Bun Doran made the leap from handicap company to Grade Two scorer as he surprised some better-fancied rivals in the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.
Trained by Tom George, Bun Doran was pitched into this two-mile affair after his recent narrow second at Newbury saw him jump up the ratings to a mark of 156.
Partnered by Jonathan Burke for the first time, Bun Doran did attract some support, being sent off a 4-1 chance, and he was on the front end throughout.
It looked as though Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres and previous Grade One scorer Sceau Royal might swallow him up with two to jump, but Bun Doran kept finding more for pressure.
Sceau Royal hardly helped his chance by stuttering into the final obstacle, but Bun Doran was just too game, holding Duc Des Genievres by a length and a half at the line, with favourite Capeland out of the frame.
Burke said: “He gave me some spin. These two-mile chasers are special. He has obviously run to a high level in handicaps. Tom said before the race the handicapper had forced us into a Grade Two.
“I was keen to make it a good test and I knew that was the way to catch out Sceau Royal and I took his speed away. He was good today and that was his Gold Cup.
“He is going to have to step into better company now. He is unbelievable (jumping) for a big horse.
“I know he stood off a few and it might have looked good on television, but he is equally good when he gets in tight. He is probably best going left handed and we probably got away with it today.
“He seems to be on the up and it is mad to think he has been around a while, but he seems to be improving.
“It is important to get these big Graded winners. Black Op got beat yesterday, but I’m delighted with this today and there will be many more to come.”
Anthony Bromley, racing manager for owners Isaac Souede and Simon Munir, was satisfied with Sceau Royal’s performance under top weight.
He said: “I thought Tom (Bellamy) gave him a lovely ride. He has got one run and he tried to hold on to him to see if he could give him one last spurt after the last, but the ground probably blunted his speed.
“I can’t wait to get him back left handed as he prefers going that way. We might just freshen him up now for the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree, as I can’t see there are many other options for him.
“I’m happy with that as he comes out quite well at the weights as he gave 6lb to the winner, beaten three lengths, and gave 3lb to the second, so we were happy with the run.”