Annie Power was made to pull out all the stops to maintain her unbeaten record in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot.
Only four went to post for the Grade Two, which was realistically a match between Willie Mullins' mare and the Paul Nicholls-trained Zarkandar, winner of the Aintree Hurdle last season.
Zarkandar took over the running from Bygones Of Brid going down the back straight, with Ruby Walsh having to niggle the big mare to close the gap.
Slightly sketchy jumping prevented her from hitting the front before the last as Zarkandar battled away gamely giving 11lb to Mullins' raider, who was sent off the 8-13 favourite, but eventually stamina came to the fore and she powered away to win by five lengths.
Walsh said: "It's always hard for a horse coming out of novice company to step in against the likes of Zarkandar and the experience that he has.
"But she matched him over the last two and when I got stuck into her she rallied all the way to the line.
"She was coming to England for the first time and she'll improve for the run, she's had a race and she's knuckled down. She'll improve plenty and it's nice to come and win.
"She hasn't done anything to say you shouldn't be going that way (Champion Hurdle).
"She'll still have to improve a bit, but with her first run under her belt and a bit more experience, who knows what might happen?"