Andy Dufresne got back to winning ways with a workmanlike success in the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle, but was given a real fright by runner-up Captain Guinness who emerged from the Grade 2 contest with as much credit as the winner, writes Justin O'Hanlon.
The winner travelled well for most of the way for Mark Walsh, but had to dig pretty deep to head the runner-up coming to the last, and in the end his three-parts-of-a-length success was at least partly due to the untidy jump at the final flight of Captain Guinness.
Winning trainer Gordon Elliott commented: “He was beaten by a good horse at Navan last time but I thought that was more like it today.
"Mark thought that the inside track today over this trip was just a bit tight for him and he took a bit of organising. He's a nice horse, we've won three-parts of a length and has galloped to the line.”
He added: “It's good to get that out of the way. I still don't think that 2m4f will be a problem to him. He stays well and it just didn't happen for him the last day, and hand on heart, I think he's going to be more suited by better ground with the way he moves.
"I'll have to have a chat with the owners now to see what way we'll go and whether we go straight to Cheltenham.”
The likes of Vautour and Douvan have won this race in recent years en route to victory in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
In many ways, runner-up Captain Guinness was as much the story of the race as the winner.
He took Rachael Blackmore to the front before the fourth flight, raced with the choke out, but despite that he found plenty from the front and had every chance at the last before an awkward jump at that flight possibly cost him victory.
Trainer Henry De Bromhead said: “It didn't quite work out for him, he was a little bit headstrong but he just seemed to gallop away after that.
"He ran really well for a horse just having his second run over hurdles. He was probably bound to get found out a little bit and the mistake at the last didn't help but that was a really positive run against a good horse.”
He added: “I would ideally like to get another run into him if we were going to Cheltenham, although I would probably be happy enough to go straight there and take our chance, but we'll discuss that.”