Champion Chase favourite El Fabiolo cruised to a commanding victory on his reappearance in the Grade 2 Bar One Racing Hilly Way Chase at Cork.
The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old, who was ridden by Paul Townend, was making his first start since his wide-margin success in the Grade 1 Barberstown Castle Novice Chase at Punchestown in April.
El Fabiolo jumped cleanly and travelled well to score by four and three-quarter lengths from the Gordon Elliott-trained Fil Dor.
Mullins said on Racing TV: "He got the job done, but he wasn't flashy. I think he'll improve hugely. He ran too free early on but once he turned down the back Paul led him on and he relaxed a bit more.
"He got a breather then and he needed that because Jack Kennedy was behind him and ready to test him."
He remains the evens favourite for the Champion Chase with Coral, with the Nicky Henderson-trained Jonbon 5-4 second favourite after his Tingle Creek success at Sandown on Saturday.
El Fabiolo's comfortable win continued Mullins' impressive run in the Grade 2 as he recorded his record-extending 15th victory in the race. He has now won the race for five consecutive seasons and in ten of the past 11 runnings.
Mullins may opt to wait until the new year before running El Fabiolo again. He said: "It's very close to Christmas and we might just go to Ascot like we've done previously and for the Clarence House."
El Fabiolo makes a winning return in the Hilly Way at @corkracecourse— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 10, 2023
🏇 10 runs
🥇 Seven wins
🏆 G1 Arkle
🏆 G1 Irish Arkle
🏆 G1 Barberstown Arkle Novice Chase
🏆 G2 @BarOneRacing Hilly Way Chase@WillieMullinsNH | @PTownend | @simon_munir pic.twitter.com/W1TY7C4cZ1