Catch Me and Made In Taipan enhanced their standing as consistent money-spinners on an upward curve with high-profile trips to England beckoning when stylishly landing Grade Two contests at Navan yesterday.
Odds-on to follow up his initial success over three miles at Leopardstown after Christmas, Tralee businessman James O'Shea's Catch Me moved smoothly for Andrew McNamara to challenge and soon master the flattering Aitmatov between the final two flights in the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle.
Unless there's an emphasis on stamina in next month's Smurtfit Kappa Champion Hurdle, Catch Me could swerve both that Tuesday feature at Cheltenham and the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
A creditable sixth to Katchit in last year's 'Champion', Edward O'Grady's German-bred multiple scorer has prospered to such an extent that he's undefeated in four outings in the current campaign.
"I'd love to go to Cheltenham and if it was soft to heavy in the Champion Hurdle, he could run in it again,” said O’Grady, who could indeed end up challenging for the
Aintree Hurdle on Grand National day.
“I don't know how bullish I am about the Stayers Hurdle and there's always Liverpool.
"That was much easier and sweeter than I had anticipated and it's nice to have such a dilemma with this horse."
The Tipperary handler and his stable jockey combined again for a well-executed double when Solstice Knight, Back In Front's promising full brother, ran away with the Mirror Group Maiden Hurdle.
In contrast to McNamara's hold-up tactics aboard Catch Me, Davy Russell made all the running on Made In Taipan to land some decent wagers in the Flyingbolt Novice Chase that featured some early drama.
Majestic Concorde, Dermot Weld's second favourite, clouted the first fence and unseated Barry Geraghty. while Cuan Na Grai, Paul Nolan's chasing debutant, hit the deck at the next obstacle.
Made In Taipan, which is best suited to a left-hand track with some ease underfoot, remains a best-priced 20/1 chance with Paddy Power for that Festival event. Russell made it a brace of Grade Two victories when guiding yet another favourite, Siegemaster, to an ultimately clear-cut defeat of Equus Maximus as just four of the eight runners managed to get around.
Philip Carberry partnered Fistoulig to a snug victory over Halfback on behalf of his uncle, Arthur Moore.