CHELTENHAM Festival winner First Lieutenant made the perfect start to his new career over fences with a fine display in the Like A Butterfly Novice Chase at Tipperary.
The Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle scorer was making his first competitive appearance since placing a creditable third at the Punchestown Festival in May, and was the 4-7 favourite to make a winning return.
Facing four rivals, the Mouse Morris-trained six-year-old jumped accurately throughout the Grade Three contest and cruised into the straight with his rivals in trouble.
Slieveardagh responded to pressure and kept First Lieutenant honest, but the market leader was always doing enough and had a length and three-quarters in hand at the finish under Davy Russell.
Morris said: “I'm relieved and very satisfied. He got a bit tired but that's to be expected against race-fit horses.
“He could do no more. I want to get some experience into him but I've no real plans.”
Russell added: “He did it well. He'll learn a lot from the experience and I'd say he'd prefer a bigger track.”