Thedevilscoachman was delivered with a perfectly-timed run to land the Grade 2 BetVictor Boyne Hurdle at Navan.
Trained by Noel Meade and ridden by Mark Walsh, the six-year-old was returning to the smaller obstacles after running over fences twice this term, chasing home Cheltenham Festival contenders Ferny Hollow and Saint Sam.
Back over hurdles, Thedevilscoachman (4/1) travelled well throughout the two-mile-five-furlong trip for Walsh, as Ashdale Bob made a bold bid for victory from the front.
?? Lovely ride Mark Walsh— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 22, 2022
???? Fresh from Grade One glory at the weekend, it's more success for the rider & owner JP McManus with Thedevilscoachman landing the G2 @BetVictorRacing Boyne Hurdle for @tuvastables @NavanRacecourse pic.twitter.com/EykTB9i5wJ
He was briefly headed by Grand Roi, but grabbed the lead back in the straight only for Walsh to produce his mount to challenge coming to the final flight in the feature Grade 2 contest.
It looked as though Ashdale Bob might just hold on, but Thedevilscoachman was reeling him in with every stride and eventually shaded it by a head at the line.
Commander Of Fleet was a further nine and a half lengths back in third with leading Grand National contender Longhouse Poet unplaced after being sent off the 5-2 favourite.
Paddy Power make the winner an 8/1 shot from 16/1 for the Coral Cup at Cheltenham and Meade feels that would be a better option at the Festival than the shorter County Hurdle.
“He jumped so badly the last day, he wasn’t having a cut at his fences at all, and Mark thought he sort of lost his bottle a bit,” said Meade.
“We thought that it was getting so late in the season that we’d maybe go back over hurdles and see how it goes. When I schooled him at home over hurdles, he wasn’t exactly showing me an awful lot but he jumped great for him today.
“I think the ground is a big factor with him. When he won his bumper in Naas he sprouted wings in it and he did the same today when he got going. He really came home.
“I haven’t a notion where he goes next. He’s in the Coral Cup and the County Hurdle – if he goes, the Coral Cup would be the one, but it might not be easy after that.
“You’d imagine the way he did that he’d go to three miles.”