WATCH: Next Destination enhances his reputation with Grade One success at Naas
Next Destination kept his unbeaten record over jumps intact with a workmanlike victory in the Lawlor's of Naas Novice Hurdle.
Fourth in last season's Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, the Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old made a sparkling debut over hurdles at this venue in November and followed up in similarly impressive style in the Grade Two Navan Novice Hurdle last month.
He was a prohibitively priced 8-15 favourite to complete his hat-trick in a Grade One contest his trainer had won five times in the last eight renewals, and while it was not as straightforward as many were expecting, he got the job done in the hands of Paul Townend.
Townend said: "From the day he won his maiden here he was exciting and thankfully he's gone and done it again.
"It's tough work out there and it was a messy enough race. I'd say his ability got him home.
"I thought we'd go a bit quicker, to be honest, and I just wanted to keep it as simple as I could.
"He jumped electric and was tough when I needed him.
"He seems to be improving and growing up. Hopefully it's onward and upwards."
Next Destination was always well positioned, tracking the pacesetting Jetz for much of the two-and-a-half-mile journey before taking over the lead early in the home straight.
Cracking Smart, runner-up to Next Destination at Navan, finished strongly after the final flight to grab second once more and there was only a length between them at the line.
The eyecatcher of the race was the winner's stablemate Duc Des Genievres.
A winner on his only previous start in France, the 25-1 shot travelled strongly for a long way and was not beaten far into third place.
Mullins said: "He's improving all the time. It was a very slow-run race and, tactically, it was a lot different than we thought it would be.
"His jumping held up under pressure over the last two and he was in front far enough to withstand the late challenge of the second horse.
"I'd imagine we'll find a race at the Dublin Festival at Leopardstown (February 3-4) if it's not too soon.
"He looks like a Ballymore or an Albert Bartlett horse (at the Cheltenham Festival).
"I think he can settle well enough. Today he didn't because it was such a slow pace but I think in a Cheltenham-style race he'll settle and he could run in either of those two races.
"The Ballymore would be the one you would think of immediately. He looks a real chaser but he's well able to hurdle this year anyway."
Of Duc Des Genievres, Mullins said: "He ran a cracker for only his second run of his life.
"He looks a real nice type. He'll certainly get a Cheltenham entry."