Captain Conan made a good start to life over fences with victory in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase at Cheltenham.
The Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-old (11-10 favourite), winner of the Tolworth Hurdle last season, jumped smoothly from the outset for Barry Geraghty, but found Sire De Grugy a willing foe.
There was little in it as the pair jumped the last in unison, but Captain Conan's bigger engine gave him a two-length advantage at the line.
Henderson said: "It's hard work in this ground, but I wouldn't be too worried about him in it. I think he's a two-miler - he's got a lot of speed. It was a very pleasing start and I'm delighted.
"I don't think he touched a twig but I would have been disappointed if he had. I looked after him last season and we didn't take him to Cheltenham (in March) because this is what we had been waiting for. We've got Simonsig to come and those are the two (Arkle horses)."
Jamie Moore, rider of Sire De Grugy for his father, Gary, said: "I was delighted with the way he ran, but he wasn't good enough and there are no excuses."
Anonis (25-1) claimed a keynote victory for Ireland in the Listed Cheltenham Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race. Trained by Mags Mullins, the six-year-old overcame a 605-day absence to defeat The Liquidator by five lengths under the County Kilkenny handler's son, Danny.
The winning handler said: "He's a good horse. I think a lot of him. He's a powerful galloper and has done everything I've asked from him at home. We might go for one more bumper, but it's up to Barry (Connell, owner) what we do next. It's great for Irish racing."
Double Ross (14-1) put his rivals to sleep from the front in the Paddy Power Intermediate Handicap Hurdle. The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained six-year-old made virtually every yard of the running under the Naunton handler's son, Sam, and continued to maintain a feisty gallop to the winning post.
Twiston-Davies snr said: "He was always in control - amazing, really. He'll go back novice chasing very soon but that was a hell of a consolation. We knew he'd love the ground."
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