BRIAR HILL maintained his unbeaten record on the racecourse as Cheltenham's Champion Bumper winner made it five from five under rules and three from three over hurdles when he won yesterday's Grade Two Slaney Novice Hurdle in workmanlike fashion.
Willie Mullins' dual Grade One winner faced just two rivals, with his stable companion Upazo failing to get home from the abandoned meeting at Sandown in time.
After Apache Jack had cut out the running under Bryan Cooper, Ruby Walsh had to start getting a tune out of Briar Hill as they approached the turn for home.
Despite giving 7lbs away to his rivals for his Grade One penalty, Briar Hill won the duel with Apache Jack and the 1/3 favourite recorded a two-and-a-quarter-length win with Very Wood finishing well to arrive three parts of a length behind Apache Jack at the death.
Mullins said: "He's improving all the time and it was a nice performance giving that weight away to two good horses.
"I would imagine he will have another run before Cheltenham but I have nothing in mind at the moment."
The champion trainer added: "That wouldn't be his preferred ground, he is lazy and that is his nature and a lot of his ability is that he only does enough.
"Hopefully he will keep improving. He is bred to get a trip and he will get an entry in all three races but I would imagine we will be looking at the Neptune or the Albert Bartlett. He has plenty of speed on better ground."
A step up in class is next on the agenda for the Tim Doyle-trained Mallowney who recorded his third win at Naas when landing the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase in the hands of Andrew McNamara.
Mozoltov was a notable non-runner from the two-mile contest but making every post a winning one Mallowney always looked comfortable in front and was a snug winner over Ned Buntline back in second.
"I thought that was a good performance and he jumped like a two-mile chaser," Doyle said afterwards.
"I know he likes it around here but we'll have to go somewhere else now. He is in the Arkle at Leopardstown and it will be that or the Flying Bolt. We will step him up and see what he can do, but Andrew was happy with him and felt he was up to a bit more class."
The 12-year-old Luke's Benefit gave trainer Denis Hogan another winner in the Joe Byrne Memorial Handicap Chase, while the concluding bumper went the way of Champoleon.