Mullins locks horns with Nicky Henderson once again today.
As Faugheen dropped back Melon slipped through and battle was engaged from over the last two flights between the Champion Hurdle's dominant powerhouses of Henderson and Mullins.
And Henderson, whose Buveur D'Air was a narrow victor of yesterday's Champion Hurdle, is more than respectful of the challenge that will be posed by the Willie Mullins-trained stablemates Douvan and Min.
The Willie Mullins-trained Next Destination (4/1) stayed on strongly to finish a further five lengths behind in third.
"While the Grand National remains the undisputed champion when it comes to bets placed on a single race, Cheltenham is the most popular four days of betting for horse racing fans". They went a good gallop throughout and Buveur D'Air and Melon were able to then keep that gallop up in the closing stages, it was a great contest to keep that up the whole way. "Two very fearless horses and two great jockeys".
Buveur D'Air had to show courage to go with his undoubted class to successfully defend his crown in the Unibet Champion Hurdle. He is a really good young horse, he did what he had to today.
McManus said: "I'm keeping up with Nicky!"
"We were anxious last week with the snow that it might even have been cancelled but I think it's going to be busier than ever", he said.
"I'm delighted for everyone, especially Barry".
Last year's Gold Cup victor, Sizing John, was ruled out of the race earlier in the season making ante post favourites for this year's Gold Cup Mite Bite, Our Duke and Native river, consecutively.
"I thought we had it all to do after the last, but I was hoping that Barry's strength might get us through".
"This hasn't been easy and yesterday was as bad as it gets", said Henderson.
Cause Of Causes has already guaranteed his place in Cheltenham folklore by winning three different races at the last three Festivals and he may not have finished yet. He dug deep and he scrapped and I think he's proved himself an even better horse.