A final-fence blunder by Nicanor handed the most interesting race of the day at Fairyhouse yesterday to his rival Kempes.
The pair both boasted seriously good hurdles form but had failed to get their heads in front over fences, hence their presence in the www.fairyhouseracecourse.ie Beginners Chase.
The 8/11 favourite Nicanor, who beat Denman at the Cheltenham Festival in 2006 before being sidelined for almost three years, appeared to be travelling better under Paul Carberry but got in far too close to the last.
This left the race at the mercy of Kempes and Ruby Walsh, who had four lengths in hand of his rival by the post.
Kempes has an entry in the Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy but trainer Willie Mullins said: "Kempes may have been a bit fortunate at the final fence but his performance was more encouraging, despite the ground not being to his liking.
"Kempes has more respect for chase fences than hurdles and I'm hoping for further improvement when the ground is better. He's entered for Cheltenham but I'd imagine he'll stay at home."
Emulous in Classic tilt
Dermot Weld ranks Emulous at the top of his potential Classic contenders this season.
The daughter of Dansili won her only start in a maiden at the Curragh last October.
"She is a very smart filly and could be my best three-year-old filly," the trainer said.
"She will run in one of the Irish Classic trials and we will see how she gets on.
"At the moment I see her more as an Irish Guineas filly, but she will certainly run in some of the early Classic trials in the spring and she could well be an English Guineas filly."