Djakadam cut in price for Cheltenham Gold Cup after out-lasting former stablemate Outlander at Punchestown
Djakadam proved too strong in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase to repeat his victory of last year.
Ruby Walsh's decision to partner Willie Mullins' dual Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up on his return to action in the Grade One, rather than head to Cork for the Hilly Way Chase ride on superstar Douvan, paid dividends with a determined success.
The 4-5 favourite tracked the front-running Sub Lieutenant until touching down over five out in a share of the lead, and little separated the pair over the next few fences.
Outlander was stalking them and emerged as the chief threat when Djakadam took it up, but the market leader's superior stamina came into play as he stretched a length and a quarter clear.
Mullins said: "I'm happy that he's learned to find a leg at last, when he made a mistake at the one going down the hill.
"We'll probably try to do what we did last year. I'm delighted that he could win that first time out, and he's making progress.
"I just wanted to get today out of the way first, and we'll see where we go from here."
RaceBets trimmed Djakadam to 9-1 from 10-1 for the Gold Cup, with Coral and Boylesports going 8-1 from 10-1 and 12-1 respectively.
Meanwhile, Douvan stretched his unbeaten run over fences to seven with a facile success in the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase at Cork.
Last season's Arkle Trophy hero got his campaign off to flying start by completely outclassing the opposition.
Understandably fresh after a break of 227 days, Douvan was sent straight to the front from flag-fall by Paul Townend and jumped well in the main, with just the odd minor error, most notably at the third-last.
Townend turned the screw on the 1-6 shot from four out and the result was never in doubt as Douvan cruised 22 lengths clear of Days Hotel.
Mozoltov fell three from home and brought down Grand National fourth Gilgamboa, while The Game Changer was pulled up.