Monalee advertised his Cheltenham Festival credentials with an impressive front-running victory under Rachael Blackmore in the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park on Saturday.
Landing the middle leg of a treble for Blackmore, the second of her blossoming career, Monalee never put a foot wrong when beating last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup third Anibale Fly by two lengths.
The Henry de Bromhead-trained eight-year-old was cut to a general 5-1 (from 8) for the Ryanair Chase and 20-1 (from 33) for the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, which remains an option.
De Bromhead is holding fire on Monalee's festival target and said: "I'm delighted with his performance. He jumped brilliantly and Rachael gave him a super ride. We wanted to get a run into him on easy ground and it's worked out really well.
"We're in no rush to choose which race he'll run in at Cheltenham. The ground will probably be a factor in our decision."
The task for Monalee, who was a seven-length second to Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy in the RSA Chase at last year's festival, was made easier when his Cheltenham conqueror was not declared, with Fairyhouse a possible target next week.
Anibale Fly could never land a blow on Monalee over a shorter-than-ideal trip, but stayed on steadily and his performance pleased Frank Berry, racing manager to the nine-year-old's owner JP McManus.
"He's stayed on well," said Berry. "The Gold Cup is the plan if there is some ease in the ground."
Last year's Irish Gold Cup hero Edwulf was 25 lengths back in third, with Killultagh Vic last of the four runners.