Galopin Des Champs dispelled any stamina doubts when running away with the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup.
In doing so the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old cemented his position at the head of the betting for the blue riband at Cheltenham.
There were still plenty in with a chance half a mile out when The Big Dog departed who was in the process of running a huge race.
At that point in the race Davy Russell took it upon himself to lay down his challenge on Fury Road as he went up to challenge Stattler, but Paul Townend was stalking the pair on the 30-100 favourite.
The three got close together on the run to the last, with Fury Road was awkward at it. That left Galopin Des Champs with the initiative and while it briefly looked like it may be hard work, he soon pulled well clear.
Having his first run at three miles over fences, the extra distance at Cheltenham looks unlikely to pose a problem on this evidence as he drew away to win by eight lengths clear. Stattler ran back on to reclaim the runner-up spot.
A more mature Galopin Des Champs is now realising his huge potential and it's next stop Cheltenham for Willie Mullins' star after his win in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup. #DublinRacingFestival pic.twitter.com/6LdB5nVlz0— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) February 4, 2023
"He was very professional and Paul was happy where he was throughout the race," said Mullins.
"He was happy that he was settled coming through. He said after the race that he had plenty in the tank and he was never worried at any time during the race about where he was.
"He seemed to gallop away through the line. He looks a real good horse.
"Hopefully we can build on that now over an extra two furlongs in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
"I was amazed that the press were doubting the fact that he had never won over three miles over fences. He had won over three miles as a novice over hurdles which is way harder than doing it over fences. To me, he can go four miles.
"What I love about him now is that he's settling, he’s not keen and Paul is able to put him wherever he wants him in a race. That’s crucial for tactics going forward.
"He used to be a little keen over shorter trips, but now he just settles and he’s able to put him asleep. I think it’s just maturity, he’s matured in his mind and he’s settling into being a proper racehorse."
He went on: "We’re more relaxed training him now, we know he has gears. I was always confident that he’d stay and we probably don’t do as much speed work with him nowadays.
"We’ve had some fabulous horses win the Gold Cup here. This fella is making a name for himself, he’s still young in steeplechasing terms and where he’ll be at the end of his career, we’ll see. It’s all going forward at the moment anyway.
"A lot of people skip this race to go for Cheltenham, but for me any day you can win an Irish Gold Cup it needs to be done.
"There is a nice time frame from now until Cheltenham, we’re going to celebrate and enjoy today.
"It’s all about getting there now. I suppose Conflated didn’t appear here today, he’s going to go to Cheltenham a little bit fresher but we’re probably going to go there a little bit fitter and it’s all to play for.
"We have this in the bag and we’re very happy to have won an Irish Gold Cup with him."
He added: "The track is in excellent order and I haven’t seen Leopardstown looking as well for four or five years. They have presented it in terrific order."
On Stattler he said: "He ran a cracker, I thought he was going to fade out of it but he stayed on again to be second. I think Patrick (Mullins) has booked his ride in Cheltenham.
"Ronnie (Bartlett, owner) was very happy with that and we’re all very happy with how he ran. He was up there, jumping fantastic, and making the running. It was a hard thing to do and then stay on again to be second, it was a great run."
Watch the Dublin Racing Festival this weekend on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, with coverage from 1pm on Saturday and Sunday.