Dan Skelton was delighted with Crucial Role as the six-year-old opened his account over fences in the Dove Valley Marquees Beginners’ Chase at Uttoxeter.
Always close to the pace in the hands of the trainer’s brother Harry, Crucial Role (12-1) hit the front three out.
He shrugged aside his only serious rival in the straight, Now McGinty, to win by nine lengths and strike at the second attempt over the bigger obstacles.
Nicky Henderson’s Chef Des Obeaux, the 13-8 favourite, was a never-nearer third, six lengths away.
“I was impressed with Crucial Role. It was a very deep beginners’ chase,” said Skelton.
“I’m very happy with him. We’ll give him three or four weeks and look again.”
Antunes had initiated a brace for the Skelton team with a cosy success in the Chenet Ice Handicap Hurdle.
The evens favourite was never out of second gear as he led two out to coast home by an eased down five lengths from Georgian Firebird.
“I don’t think that was a great race really. He did it well though,” said the Alcester trainer.
The Evan Williams-trained Esprit Du Large created a decent impression when winning the Calvet Classic Maiden Hurdle.
Sent off at 12-1 after finishing mid-division in a Chepstow bumper last month, Aidan Coleman was motionless as he cruised to the front.
He only had to be pushed out to score by 11 lengths from the favourite Eur Gone West
Colin Tizzard’s Sizing Cusimano (3-1) got up in the dying strides to beat Volcano in the Lilquest Asbestos Handicap Hurdle while Harry Fry’s Get In The Queue (9-2) looked a nice prospect in the bumper.