Balder Succes got off the mark for the campaign with a smooth display in the Betfair Commits £40 Million To British Racing Hurdle at Haydock.
The four-year-old was highly regarded by trainer Alan King during his juvenile year but after winning his first three starts in Britain, he failed to complete in either the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham or at Grade One level at Punchestown.
Having made an encouraging return to action when third in Wincanton's Elite Hurdle, Balder Succes was a 1-2 favourite coming down in class and he produced a smart performance in the hands of Wayne Hutchinson.
The tough-as-teak Hollow Tree predictably set out to make all, but Balder Succes ranged up to his quarters still hard on the bridle at the top of the home straight and he pulled clear between the final two flights to score by six lengths.
King's assistant, Noel Williams, said: "It is a bit of a relief as when you're such a short price you just don't want anything to go wrong. He's a horse who made good progress last year but when he got up to Grade One level it was all happening a bit quick for him.
"He is still a big baby and very much a work in progress, but he is more mature now than he was last season. He has still got to improve to compete in the championship division, but he is certainly going the right way.
"I'm not sure where he'll go next. That will be up to Alan and the owners. Hopefully he'll do well over hurdles but he has plenty of scope about him to jump a fence one day as well."
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