The 2011 Cheltenham hero Hurricane Fly received mixed reactions from bookmakers for the Champion Hurdle after his successful reappearance at Punchestown.
Hurricane Fly made all of the running in the Morgiana Hurdle, but only after Go Native took a crashing fall at the final flight.
Paul Carberry brought Go Native to challenge the 2-5 favourite when Noel Meade’s nine-year-old came down on his first run over hurdles for 978 days.
That left the only other finisher, Captain Cee Bee, to take second spot, some 12 lengths behind the winner, who was recording his sixth course and distance triumph.
Hurricane Fly was completing a hat-trick on the day for trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh after their wins with Twinlight and Back in Focus earlier on the card.
Mullins also had a double at Cork.
“It looked like there was going to be no pace today and we felt we would have to make it (the running),” said the County Carlow handler.
“We weren’t worried about the trip or ground. All we were really worried about was facing two rivals who were race fit.
“As he gets older he seems to settle better and hopefully he’ll improve from that.
“He’s certainly a different horse to last year. I was not happy with him last season.
“We’ll look at Leopardstown at Christmas now and the plan will be that, the Irish Champion and Cheltenham as the races are well spread out.
“He’ll be entered up in everything.”