Zanahiyr took his unbeaten jumping record to three when landing Grade Two honours in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown.
A maiden winner on the Flat when with Michael Halford, the son of Nathaniel has done little wrong over the smaller obstacles since joining Gordon Elliott and boosted his claims for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham with an authoritative success.
Carrying a 3lb penalty for a Grade Three victory at Fairyhouse, the 1-2 favourite justified his prohibitive odds in the manner his supporters would have hoped.
Joseph O'Brien’s pair of Druid’s Altar and Busselton made the early running and while the former started to weaken, Busselton made a brave effort to go with Zanahiyr, who had made smooth progress under Jack Kennedy to come into contention and ultimately swept the O’Brien newcomer aside to score by three and three-quarter lengths.
"That was a great performance," said Kennedy.
"It was a complete opposite sort of race than the last day. We went very steady and he still won, so it just shows that he can do it any way.
"He only did what he had to. Quilixios (unbeaten stablemate) is very good as well, but I think he might edge him."
Here's how Zanahiyr (1-2F) justified favouritism in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown. pic.twitter.com/l4aGvh6gjv— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) December 26, 2020
The victory completed a quick double for Elliott and Kennedy after Wide Receiver’s (3-1) win in the preceding Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle.
El Barra set the early pace, but when he was headed before the third-last it looked a match between Wide Receiver and Decimation, both wearing the colours of Gigginstown House Stud.
Wide Receiver proved the stronger and a fine jump at the final flight secured victory for Elliott's charge.
The five-year-old went on to score by a length and a half. Snake Oil was eight lengths away in third place.
Kennedy said of the winner: "He did it well and I think riding him more forward today really suited him.
"He had some nice runs under his belt so it was great to get his head in front."
Elliott was not at Leopardstown, as he revealed he was self isolating after testing positive for Covid-19.
In a statement read out by Brian Gleeson on RTÉ Racing, Elliott said: "As part of the recommended return from travel Day 5 test, I have tested positive for the coronavirus. It's come as a big surprise as I’ve been asymptomatic, and I will now continue to self-isolate for a further 10 days.
"Since the test result has come back, we have had all the staff here at Cullentra tested, and thankfully all tests have come back negative."
Get My Drift (9-2) got off the mark at the third attempt with a ready success in the 'Join the tote.ie With A 10 Euro Risk Free Bet' Maiden Hurdle.
Third in his first two races over jumps, the Mouse Morris-trained four-year-old went two places better as he saw off 18 rivals in promising fashion.
Micro Manage, the even-money favourite, made the running to the second-last flight where Hurricane Cliff and Get My Drift looked serious challengers.
Jody McGarvey asked Get My Drift for his effort and between the last two hurdles and soon put the race to bed.
Gee Rex made good late headway to claim second place, two and a half lengths behind the winner. Micro Manage was three and three-quarter lengths away in third.
"He’s a nice horse and he jumps well. The better ground was a help to him," said Morris.
"I was expecting to be second, but we’ll take everything. He ran well on bottomless ground last time.
"We’ll look for a winners of one now. He’ll be better with another year under his belt.
"That’s a nice Christmas present."