Cheltenham Festival runner-up Style De Garde made an impressive start over fences as he coasted to a seven-length victory at Hereford.
Second in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle in March, he was pulled up on his final start of the last campaign at Aintree but returned suitably refreshed in the Cotswold Hereford Beginners’ Chase.
Sent off the 1-2 favourite for Nicky Henderson, Style De Garde turned in an accomplished round of jumping to see off his two rivals with the minimum of fuss.
Harry Herbert, managing director of owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, was thrilled to see the Kapgarde gelding make a successful chase debut – but is not getting too carried away just yet.
He said: “He looks very exciting. He was a bit fresh and keen, but he was very impressive and jumped well.
“Nicky was very pleased with him and the way he had schooled, so that was the reason we decided to send him straight over fences this season.
“It was only a three-runner race, but he jumped beautifully and certainly wasn’t stopping at the end.”
He added: “The dream is always to be at Cheltenham in March, he ran very well there last year and the dream is still alive!
“I’ll have to speak to Nicky now. We’ve got some lovely jumpers at Highclere to look forward to.”
Alan King and Wayne Hutchinson were in double form on the card, sending out Giving Glances (30-100 favourite) to win the Westons Cider Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle, while 11-8 market leader William H Bonney was on the mark in the attheraces.com Handicap Hurdle.
Renwick (4-6 favourite) was a six-length winner of the Cotswold Mini Maiden Hurdle for Dan and Harry Skelton, with the Johnny Farrelly-trained Love The Leader another for favourite-backers at odds of 4-5 in the Major Bar Handicap Chase.