Jeremy Scott will consider future plans carefully after Dashel Drasher opened his account over fences in impressive style at Haydock.
A four-time winner over hurdles, the six-year-old found only the high-class Champ too strong on his chasing debut at Newbury – but then made it only as far as the first fence when renewing rivalry with Nicky Henderson’s charge in a Grade Two event at the same track last week.
Bidding for swift compensation just five days later, Dashel Drasher was the 10-11 favourite for the Conservatory Insulations Novices’ Chase – and there was much to like about the way he dispatched Champagne Mystery by seven lengths under regular partner Matt Griffiths.
Scott said: “It was a funny race, because they went no gallop and there were a number of fences taken out.
“I don’t know how much we can read into it, but I’m delighted because he obviously jumped much better than he did at Newbury – which was great to see.
“I’m not sure where we’ll go now. There’s Cheltenham in 10 days’ time or Cheltenham on New Year’s Day for the Dipper Novices’ Chase, but that will be fiercely competitive.
“If you’re not careful you could end up having your hand forced, so we’ll have a little think about what we do now.
“I’m not sure we’ve learnt today. He looked to quicken up well there over nearly two-and-three-quarter miles, but it was a funny race.
“I think we’ll stick at this sort of trip for his next run anyway, and go from there.”
The most taking performance of the afternoon at the Merseyside venue came from Henderson’s Marie’s Rock, who maintained her unbeaten record emphatically in the Join Racing TV Now ‘Introductory’ Hurdle.
Successful on her only previous appearance in a Ffos Las bumper during the spring, the Middleham Park Racing-owned filly travelled with zest in the hands of Nico de Boinville before displaying a smart change of gear to seal a five-length success.
Middleham Park’s Tom Palin said: “I thought it was an impressive performance on just her second start. We thought it looked quite a deep race beforehand – and we’d have been happy with second or third, to be honest, so she has surprised us a bit.
“She was a little bit keen early on, but overall I thought it was quite a professional performance.
“How far she’ll go, I don’t know, but she looks one of the most exciting National Hunt horses we’ve had in recent years on the evidence of what she’s done today.
“I’ll have to run it by the syndicate and Mr Henderson, but I’d be quite keen to go for the Listed mares’ novices’ hurdle at Taunton at the end of the month.
“I think she deserves to go into that sort of race now, and we’ll find out a bit more about her.”
Trainer Jonjo O’Neill enjoyed a double on the card, with Ashfield Paddy (4-1) landing the Racing TV Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle under Edward Austin before Jonjo Jnr steered Cobolobo (9-4 favourite) to a clear-cut success in the University Of Liverpool Thoroughbred Horseracing Industries MBA Handicap Chase.