Nelson River maintained his unbeaten record since switching codes after staying on powerfully to take the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Having hit a flat-spot in the two-mile-one-furlong prize, Tony Carroll’s charge picked up both long time leader Katpoli and Fanfan Du Seuil up the run in before defeating the later by a length to add to his victory at Bangor last month.
Following the race, the winner was introduced at 40-1 for the Triumph Hurdle with Sky Bet.
Carroll said of the 6-1 victor: “It was not a surprise as he is a nice horse. He stays well and he has taken to jumping. He is a young horse and really he has had not much racing.
“I think the horse is still learning. He is a horse that is moving forward and has a bright future.
“Of course they would like to come back for the Festival. Today was a day to see where we were. We’ve always liked him. He is a lovely horse but they’ve still got to do it on the track.
“It was tough out there for juveniles and he has done it really well.”
Drovers Lane earned a step up in class after giving weight and a beating to his rivals to make it three wins from four starts over fences in the Ryman Novices’ Chase.
After also carrying top weight to victory at Market Rasen last time out, the Rebecca Curtis-trained six-year-old followed up when holding on the running on Le Breuil by a length and a half.
Curtis said of the 3-1 winner: “We always thought he was a good horse. Until you come here and take on the better ones, you never know what you’ve got. He proved it today that he is very nice.
“Sean (Bowen) said he will get further, but he said they went a good gallop there.
“I think he will probably have a little break now and we will definitely be thinking of something at the Festival for him.
“We tried to be careful before as we thought the 0-145 novice here would be ideal, but he is going to go up for that. We will have a look at the Graded races.
“I think we will look at both the two-and-a-half and three-mile ones. Neither will be weak, but we will go for the easier one.”
Ozzie The Oscar gained his just reward for several creditable efforts in defeat when giving trainer Philip Hobbs his 60th winner of the season in the Cheltenham Club Handicap Chase.
The Philip Hobbs-trained seven-year-old, who finished second in last month’s Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter, battled back bravely after being headed late on by Bun Doran, before pulling out more to score by three and a half lengths.
Hobbs said of the 11-4 winner: “He ran very well at Ascot last time and in the Haldon Gold Cup. Last time they probably went a bit too quick.
“He was very good today. He made that mistake at the top of the hill and I think most horses would have stopped. He is a star really.
“There is a decent two-mile handicap at Doncaster at the end of January. Whether we do that or give him a break, we will see.”
Rockpoint secured the first win of his career when giving trainer Colin Tizzard back-to-back victories in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
After landing the Grade Two prize with Kilbricken Storm 12 months ago, the Milborne Port handler claimed it once again after the five-year-old hit the target on his 11th start.
Prominent throughout the 11-2 shot, who is a half-brother to Grade One winner Santini, found plenty under pressure to defeat Lisnagar Oscar by two and three quarter lengths.
Tizzard said: “It’s amazing really. All last season we went two and a half miles and it was just a question of whether he was going through with it.
“John Snook (owner) rang me up before the entries closed saying are you entering him for this race today.
“We saw something two weeks ago in a handicap on his first start over three miles. He looked more at ease with himself. Today he never missed a beat.
“He stayed on up the run in like a proper horse. You never know where they will stop once they start improving.
“We thought when we won with Kilbricken Storm that was as good as we were going to get, then he went on.
“No doubt we will come back here for the Albert Bartlett in March. He will definitely have another one or two more runs as you can see he is not out on his legs today.”
Barry Geraghty turned into the super-sub after galvanising the Noel Williams-trained Sensulano to glory in the OLBG.com Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.
Deputising for the injured Leighton Aspell, Geraghty steered the 4-1 chance home by two lengths from Oscar Rose.
Williams said: “She is so tough. I thought turning in we were in a bit of trouble down the hill as she was being squeezed along. The further she went, the stronger she got.
“After Ascot, I said we would take in one more handicap then try to get a bit more black type on her page.”