Vision Des Flos finally gained the big-race victory he has long threatened when claiming the NetBet Casino National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell Park.
Having finished in the frame in four of his six starts this season, including when chasing home dual Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D’Air at Sandown, the six-year-old opened his account when seeing out the two-mile-three-furlong trip best of all in the Grade Two contest.
Travelling well throughout, the Colin Tizzard-trained gelding, who was appearing for the third time this month, took matters up from the back of the second-last from 2016 winner Lil Rockerfeller, before holding favourite If The Cap Fits by a length and a half.
The winner was cut to 16-1 for the Coral Cup by the race sponsors, while Paddy Power trimmed him to 14-1 for the same race.
Tizzard, who won the Fontwell feature with Third Intention in 2012, said of the 7-2 scorer: “Two miles was a bit sharp around Wincanton for him last time. We’ve run him three times this month, only because his wind is not very good. The fitter he is, the better he will get.
“He stayed on well there. He travelled really well. He is in the Champion Hurdle and the Coral Cup, and on that running I’d say he would go for the handicap. You never know, if there is not many in the Champion Hurdle we might go there yet.”
As for the runner-up, trainer Harry Fry remains keen on stepping him back up to Grade One level at Aintree, despite being disappointed with his effort.
He said: “Noel (Fehily) said he never really travelled. It was frustrating we couldn’t run in the Kingwell last week. He wasn’t good enough today and Noel did well to finish second the way he was travelling.
“We vaccinated him last week, which was not the plan to do so in such close proximity to a race. Hopefully the run was just down to that.
“He is not entered at Cheltenham and we have six weeks until Aintree and we still plan to go there. He was beaten a length and a half giving the winner 4lb.
“If he had travelled well he would have won.”