Quevega won the World Series Hurdle at Punchestown for the fourth year in a row as trainer Willie Mullins celebrated five winners in a day.
Pre-race favourite Solwhit was withdrawn before the race after bleeding from the nose.
Quevega assumed the role of 6-4 favourite and Ruby Walsh took a comfortable win after hitting the front approaching the final fence.
Reve De Sivola finished second and Zaidpour third.
Racegoers were denied the much-anticipated Grade One showdown between Solwhit and Quevega when Charles Byrne's nine-year old was dramatically pulled off the track by jockey Davy Russell after consulting with veterinary experts.
Solwhit was aiming to emulate Sprinter Sacre and Istabraq by claiming a treble of wins at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown.
But Quevega, who delivered victories at the last five Cheltenham Festivals, triumphed in the three-mile race.
"She's a brilliant little mare. It was plenty heavy enough for her but, in fairness, it was plenty heavy for any horse," said Walsh.
"She's been exceptionally well placed and trained. She has a great attitude and she's not the easiest mare to look after.
"She is so accurate in her jumping, she travels and she's honest. She's the real deal. She's won four of these and five mares' hurdles at Cheltenham.
"Solwhit didn't run, but you can only beat what is in front of you and beat them she did."
Friday's feature race, the Champion Hurdle, will feature Hurricane Fly and Rock on Ruby.
Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle result
1 Quevega (R Walsh) 6-4
2 Reve De Sivola 9-2
3 Zaidpour 16-1
4 Holywell 14-1
Also: 11-8 Fav Solwhit
Non Runner: Solwhit