Hurricane stars again
Hurricane Fly saw off Our Conor to secure his fourth successive victory in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.
The Willie Mullins-trained 10-year-old was the 4-7 favourite to secure his 19th Grade One triumph and travelled with his usual zest in the hands of Ruby Walsh.
He quickened up to lead approaching the final flight, but Our Conor threw down a serious challenge.
The two fought out a pulsating finish, but Hurricane Fly was going away again in the closing strides under a jubilant Walsh.
Hurricane Fly had comfortably beaten Our Conor and Jezki in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown's Christmas Festival, but connections of the latter pair had reasons to believe they could bridge the gap this time.
As he had done last month, admirable veteran Captain Cee Bee took the four runners along, with Hurricane Fly his closest pursuer, ahead of Our Conor and the free-going Jezki.
Jezki was the first of the three main protagonists to come under pressure in the hands of Tony McCoy, but Walsh and Our Conor's rider Danny Mullins appeared confident as they straightened up for home.
There was little to choose between the duo jumping the final flight and just for a moment it looked like Our Conor might be getting on top.
But Hurricane Fly, who suffered an injury scare earlier in the week with a bruised foot, roared back and was a length and a half to the good at the line - even though he did not jump the last cleanly.
Captain Cee Bee stuck to his guns to ensure fellow JP McManus-owned runner Jezki finished last of the four, albeit beaten little over three lengths.
It was an eighth victory from as many starts at Leopardstown for Hurricane Fly, who was also matching Istabraq, the only previous four-times winner of this race.
Walsh said: "I just rode the race as I found it. "In fairness to Hurricane, he quickened up well. He wasn't great at the last, but when I got serious with him he found plenty.
"Stamina was never going to be an issue with him."