Energumene set up a mouthwatering clash with Shishkin at Cheltenham next month with a brilliant front-running display in the Patrick Ward & Company Solicitors Irish Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
The seven-year-old had looked a natural in winning his first two starts over fences – and with trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Paul Townend having already landed the first two Grade Ones of the afternoon, Energumene was the 5-6 favourite to follow suit.
Sent straight to the lead, the Tony Bloom-owned gelding fenced fluently throughout the two-mile-one-furlong contest to keep the pressure on his chasing rivals, with the fall of nearest pursuer Captain Guinness at the second-last leaving the market leader with a clear advantage.
His stable companions Franco De Port and Blackbow attempted to bridge the gap from the home turn, but Energumene was in a class of his own as he passed the post with 10 lengths in hand.
Franco De Port pipped Blackbow to the runner-up spot to make it a Mullins one-two-three.
Coral make Energumene a 5-2 chance for the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham, with Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin remaining at the head of the market at 8-11.