Dynamite Dollars confirmed his Cheltenham Festival credentials with an all-the-way win in Doncaster’s Napoleons Casino & Restaurant Owlerton Sheffield Lightning Novices’ Chase.
Paul Nicholls’ Arkle contender was sent off a 1-4 favourite in the Grade Two on Town Moor, after victories at this level last time out in Kempton’s Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase and previously Sandown’s Grade One Henry VIII.
The hat-trick was never in serious doubt as Dynamite Dollars and Harry Cobden held a narrow advantage throughout, from just three rivals, and quickened when challenged over the last two fences by Ballywood.
Alan King’s five-year-old runner-up had also won his last two races, handicap chases at Taunton and here over Christmas.
But, in receipt of 8lb, he could not match the finishing kick of the year older Dynamite Dollars – who had a comfortable three and a half lengths to spare at the line.
Assistant trainer Harry Derham said: “It was a case of job done. It wasn’t ideal he had to make his own running, but Harry (Cobden) said no one was going to.
“It didn’t suit him, because he is better off having a strongly-run race – but it looked fairly straightforward in the end.
“It was a fair horse behind him, and he’s not had a hard race. There were just a couple of nervy moments, because you just knew he wasn’t as focused as he might have been as he was out in front.”
Plans remain fluid as to whether Dynamite Dollars will need another race before heading to the two-mile novice championship in March.
Derham added: “He’s got loads there. It’s just that when he’s in front he’s not certain to show it.
“We’ll see how he comes out of this. I don’t think Paul has ruled out either having another run or going straight to Cheltenham.
“Obviously, all roads lead to March. He wasn’t by any means tuned up for today. We’ll work towards March.”
Nicholls, speaking from Cheltenham, is in no mood to draw significant conclusions from Dynamite Dollars’ latest win – although suggested another prep run may be in order before the Arkle.
“That was no trial for anything, and it was a bit of a joke,” he said.
“We knew he was probably going to be in front. He had a good look at the fences and he has just had a canter round and won – it doesn’t tell you anything about anything.
“I might give him one more run, because it won’t do him any harm.
“He has done no more today than school round. He had been let down a bit, so it is almost like his first run of the season. He will get sharper and better.
“He has run well when he has run in proper races. He wants a fast-run race, with a lead like we have seen on his last two starts. He has just shown his well being, and nothing more, but it is a nice prize to win.”