Meri Devie booked her Cheltenham ticket when bouncing back to form to claim top honours in the Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown.
A smart juvenile last term, Willie Mullins' five-year-old has been a bit inconsistent this campaign and was behind the reopposing Alletrix when Jessica Harrington's charge won a handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Meri Devie was a massive 21lb better off in this Listed contest so it was no surprise that she was sent off the 5-4 favourite, and she moved ahead of long-time leader Alighting at the fourth-last.
She was headed by Alletrix two out but it was only briefly, with David Mullins asking the question shortly after, and she shot away again to pass the post five lengths to the good.
Mullins said: "I thought she was well-in there and she jumped well. She got a nice lead the whole way and when push came to shove, she produced the little bit of class that we think she might have.
"We're very happy with that and can look forward to bringing her over (to Cheltenham) for the Mares' Hurdle. Two and a half miles is no problem to her and as the season goes on, she can go up in trip."
Mullins had earlier struck with another mare when Cut The Mustard took the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle.
He said of the 3-1 chance: "The extra half-mile made a difference and it was an improved round of jumping, although her jumping is still not right. She's a nice improving mare who will be staying at home and could go to Fairyhouse."
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