Arvika Ligeonniere was made to pull out all the stops to maintain his unbeaten record over fences in the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
With Paul Townend deputising in the saddle for the otherwise-engaged Ruby Walsh, the 9-10 favourite adopted the front-running tactics that were so successful on his last start in the Drinmore, albeit this time not pulling quite so far clear.
He began to wind up the tempo moving down the back straight, but a mistake at the third-last gave his closest pursuers Baily Green and Oscars Well a chance. He was much better at the second-last and although he was tiring after the final obstacle, he had enough in reserve to hold off Oscars Well by two and a half lengths.
Winning trainer Willie Mullins said: "He got a bit tired but the ground is heavy. He settled well over the first and had a great jump. He jumped the second and third well and then piled on the pace.
"He missed the third-last as Paul wanted an easy one and the horse kept going. Because he's so free Paul is not inclined to pull him back and fiddle one. Paul said he was idling turning for home - I was wondering whether was he getting tired.
"He's a big strong horse and we'll look forward to the (Irish) Arkle back here in February."