Hurricane Fly has taken his Grade One tally to 19 with a thrilling win in the Irish Champion Hurdle, his fourth win in the Leopardstown feature.
Willie Mullins' remarkable 10-year-old was 4-7 favourite to emulate the great Istabraq, the only previous four-time winner of the prestigious event, despite the Irish champion trainer admitting his pride and joy had produced "his worst bit of work ever" only a few days ago.
A bruised foot was quickly blamed for that disappointing gallop, but there were still some concerns as he lined up on Sunday for a second clash with up-and-coming pair Our Conor and Jezki.
Hurricane Fly had beaten the two young guns in the Ryanair Hurdle almost a month ago, but with Our Conor expected to improve for the run and Jezki slightly unlucky that day, both camps fancied their chances of closing the gap.
There was little to choose between Our Conor and Hurricane Fly at the final flight and, just for a moment, it looked like Dessie Hughes' charge might be getting on top.
But Hurricane Fly roared back and was a length and a half to the good at the line, despite a less-than-fluent leap at the last, with Captain Cee Bee and Jezki third and fourth respectively.
"That was a huge relief. I have huge respect for the horse to do what he did, coming off the bit of work he did during the week," Mullins said.
"If he had been an ordinary horse he wouldn't have run. It was his worst bit of work ever.
"I was so disappointed coming off the gallops. I was saying to myself, 'Is the dream over with him and has he had enough?'.
"Thankfully we found he had a bruised foot. He seemed fine the next morning and he's been fine since.
"For the horse to come here with a bad prep and win that I'm very happy with where I'm at with him."
Hurricane Fly is at 2-1 with the sponsors Stan James for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.