Oscars lands top prize
Oscars Well looked a horse for the big festivals in the spring when cruising to victory in the Grade One Navan Novice Hurdle.
Jessica Harrington's five-year-old (9-4) travelled strongly throughout the two-and-a-half-mile affair in the hands of Robbie Power, and jumped with real dash.
As favourite and long-time leader Fully Funded began to weaken, Oscars Well was cantering all over his rivals with three to jump and was not at all pressed to account for Sweet Shock by eight lengths.
Harrington said: "I know Hidden Cyclone came out of the race, but my horse couldn't have done any more than he did. Robbie even said he hated the tacky ground. He travels very well in his races, but we may have to get him to switch off a little.
"He'll go for the Grade Two novice hurdle at Leopardstown at the end of January next and hopefully he'll be capable of carrying his Grade One penalty. The Neptune at Cheltenham is his long-term target."
Rigour Back Bob (7-1) stayed on best of all to take the Philips Electronics Tara Hurdle in the hands of Andrew McNamara.
Aitmatov disputed matters in the Grade Two contest for a long way with Son Amix, but dropped away tamely at the business end as Alpine Glade loomed up going seemingly best of all approaching two out.
But she was not brilliant at the last and it was the Edward O'Grady-trained Rigour Back Bob who proved strongest, despite being only third jumping the final obstacle. Stonemaster rallied to edge Alpine Glade for second close home.
John McIntyre of the winning Gaticoma Syndicate said: "Rigour Back Bob lives out in a field and today's cold weather wouldn't have bothered him!
"Edward said he couldn't believe how well he did during the summer and it took him two runs to get him back fit. The World Hurdle at Cheltenham is my favourite race at the Festival and hopefully he might be good enough to run in it some year."