Willie Mullins and Paul Townend secured a Grade 2 double at Thurles with victories for Allaho and Colreevy.
Third in the RSA at Cheltenham in March, Allaho had reappeared in the John Durkan Memorial at Punchestown before finishing fourth to A Plus Tard in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Sent off the 10/11 favourite for the Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase (registered as the Kinloch Brae), the Cheveley Park Stud-owned seven-year-old took the field along under Townend before being pressed by Mark Walsh-ridden stablemate Elimay.
The latter briefly looked like being a major threat, but the market leader was quick to assert on jumping the last and came home three lengths to the good.
A crack at the Ryanair Chase looks like being on the agenda for Allaho at this year’s Festival.
Winning trainer Mullins said: “I think he was idling in front all the time, and that (two and a half miles) might be more his trip. I was a little worried when Elimay got to him, but when he saw her he picked up and went away again like a decent horse.
“Elimay ran a fantastic race as well, and she will go for the Opera Hat Chase in Naas next and maybe on to the mares’ chase in Cheltenham after that.
“Allaho is a huge horse, and I thought he was a three-miler, but maybe he is better off coming back to two-four or two-five – I am thinking about the Ryanair for him.
“He is making progress, and I think he will improve into the spring – which is the time of year you want to improve in. I’m looking forward to his next run, and he’ll probably go straight to Cheltenham.”
Colreevy (4/5 favourite) took her record over fences to three from three in the Coolmore N.H. Sires Kew Gardens Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase.
Like Allaho she was in front from the outset, although Scarlet And Dove was giving her a race before crashing out at the second-last.
Mullins said: “She jumps very well and takes it all in her stride. Paul was very happy with her, and how she did everything for him with no fuss about her.
“There’s a Grade T2 chase at Limerick in March that we’re looking at next – but whether or not she has higher expectations, I don’t know. I’ll chat with the owners – but they were hoping, coming here today, to hopefully win and then go on to Limerick."
Mullins added: “We might revise plans, but we’ll see – whether or not she has enough experience over fences to go to Cheltenham is another day’s work. Certainly what she has done at Limerick over Christmas and today would lead you to think she might have as good a chance as anything over there.”
WILLIE MULLINS & GORDON ELLIOTT REVEAL THEIR DUBLIN RACING FESTIVAL PLANS IN THE IRISH FIELD NEXT WEEKEND