The New One beaten by Fishers
Tony McCoy - understandably fond of At Fishers Cross
(Healy Racing Photos)
Coneygree took the five strong field along on his drop back to an extended two and a half miles but he lacked the pace to be competitive in the closing stages as the principals eased past him.
The New One was patiently ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, taking up the running approaching the last and opening up a lead of around two lengths.
He began to tread water on the hill, however, as Tony McCoy galvanised At Fishers Cross and the pair gradually clawed back the advantage before poking their heads in front on the line to score by a neck.
Coneygree kept on at the one pace for third but Whisper failed to cut the mustard on this step up in grade as he lost his unbeaten record.
The winner was moving out of handicap company having won here over three miles last time, and McCoy said: "He's a real tough horse. I tried to get the rail, but Sam (Twiston-Davies on The New One) got away from me.
"He's got great heart. I knew the ground and conditions would suit him and Rebecca (Curtis) has done a great job with him. He may or may not have been the best horse in the race, but the way conditions were today what he had was great heart, a will to win and to stay.
"I knew that was something in his favour. He knows when he's had enough."
Winning trainer Rebecca Curtis said: "He stays very well up the hill and I think he will be better over three miles, hopefully he will go for the Albert Bartlett now.
"He seems to be progressive and the ground helped him."
Nigel Twiston-Davies said of The New One: "The winner is a stayer and our horse isn't - he's more of a speed horse. We will go for the Neptune, and the Festival is going to be run on very different ground to this."
Sky Bet make the winner a 5/1 chance for the Albert Bartlett with the runner-up the same price for glory in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
You've got to think that a lot of future winners will emerge from the Ryan's Cleaning Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown and today it was Mala Beach that was top of the pile under Davy Condon for Gordon Elliott (runner-up in the previous race, the Boylesports.com Hurdle with Rocky Wednesday).