Champion Bumper winner Relegate was made to work hard in getting off the mark over timber at the second time of asking in the Clinton Higgins Chartered Accountants Mares Maiden Hurdle at Naas.

Willie Mullins' mare subsequently disappointed at Punchestown after her Cheltenham heroics and was hampered when narrowly beaten on her hurdling debut last month.

Three mares came clear of the big field on this occasion, with Caravation and Barrington Court keeping Relegate and Ruby Walsh company in the straight.

Relegate (4-5 favourite) kicked the final two hurdles out of the ground, but her guts and class enabled her to battle back bravely for a narrow victory.

The winning margin was half a length from Caravation second, with Barrington Court two and a half lengths away in third.

"That was good and I thought Ruby was very good on her," said Mullins.

"She didn't help him much over the last two. She was probably just going a bit too fast and I'd imagine from now on we'll go way out in trip with her.

"Unless there was something at two and a quarter (miles), but I'd be looking at two and a half. To win a two-mile hurdle was good. I think she'll jump a lot better when she goes out in trip.

"I'd be looking for mares' races or novice races, I doubt she'd come back here for the Grade One. I'll just step her up the ladder quietly."

RaceBets quoted the winner at 8-1 for the Mares' Novices' Hurdle and 22-1 for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

Mullins added: "The (mares') race at Cheltenham is two-mile-one-furlong. I'd imagine I'll be trying to go out in trip with her all the time."