Rachael Blackmore showed once again why she is the undisputed queen of Cheltenham after engineering a daring run up the rail on one-time potential world-beater Bob Olinger in the Relkeel Hurdle.
Wins at the track in the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup have made Blackmore a household name and she was roared home by many of the 33,000-strong crowd on the Henry de Bromhead-trained winner, who looked a horse destined for greatness when he ran away with the 2021 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle.
Since then, he has been tried over fences without the success connections might have anticipated but there was encouragement when he won Navan's Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle in November.
That performance might have been fresh in the memory of punters who sent him off the 6-4 favourite from last year's Relkeel winner Marie's Rock, who was getting 7lb from her big rival.
Going well, Bob Olinger, who is owned by Brian Acheson, made headway two out, but his team might have become anxious when Blackmore spied a route against the rail, but was, briefly, short of room.
Whatever worries that existed were soon extinguished as the son of Sholokhov found space and shot clear, strolling home from Marie's Rock by seven commanding lengths.
Bob Olinger and Rachael Blackmore return after winning the Relkeel HurdleCredit: Edward Whitaker
"We love you Rachael," screamed one racegoer as Blackmore said: "That's the best he's ever jumped. He carried me into the race beautifully and rode like the horse he was. He obviously lost his way a bit last season, but it's great to get him back.
"He had to be brave to go through that gap and I could feel I had a lot of horse underneath me, which is a great feeling when you're at the bottom of the hill at Cheltenham. It was a really good performance and he's definitely taken a step forward from Navan. It's brilliant as a lot of work has gone into him from a lot of people."
Asked if the old Bob Olinger was back, Blackmore replied: "He's on the way."
The rider was soon hunted down by BHA steward Steve Drowne for an inquiry, which resulted in Brian Hughes, who was on the third-placed Brewin'upastorm, being given a two-day careless riding ban.
Representing De Bromhead was former top jockey Robbie Power, who helps the crack trainer with his race planning and thought the Aintree Hurdle would be the nine-year-old's main target.
"It was always going to be a tactical race with just four runners and it's always better to get the stands' rail," he said. "Rachael was keen to get it and no-one was going to stop her, but you need the horse.
"He came to my place in February and was there until October. He lost his way over fences and lost his confidence. There's been a lot of work from vets and physios and we have him back now, hopefully. That was a very good performance.