Silviniaco Conti continued his rapid progression up the ranks when outpointing Long Run in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.
Just as his Paul Nicholls-trained stablemate Kauto Star did 12 months ago, the six-year-old made all the running in the hands of Ruby Walsh.
Silviniaco Conti (7-4) jumped well throughout and had too many guns for Long Run, the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
Nicholls said: "He is a really decent horse. He's only six, he jumps, he stays - he jumped brilliantly today. We had a chat before the race and I said if they go quick get a lead, if they don't then bowl along. He jumps and gallops.
"There's no better man to ride in front than Ruby. I'm not going to rush him and I might go straight to the Gold Cup with him.
"He wants to be fresh and I'm not going to run him through the winter in the mud. He could be really interesting, come Cheltenham.
"I thought he didn't get the credit he deserved at Wetherby (winning Charlie Hall). Long Run is a very good horse but for a six-year-old it was a good performance."
Walsh said: "The Gold Cup looks the logical step. You win the Charlie Hall, you win the Betfair, it's the obvious target for him.
"He's a good stayer, he's not slow. I'd love to ride another Gold Cup winner.
"We felt the King George would be more of a speed race this year with two-mile and two-and-a-half milers in there."
25 January 2015Lingfield jumps card under threat
Saphir sparkles in Cleeve
Chao springs Neptune surprise
Donny glory never In Doubt
Tango hot to trot at Donny
Apache claims Blaklion scalp
Day disappointment as Anna shines
Clouds claims Cup glory
McCoy rules on Kingdoms
Peace takes Triumph Trial
24 January 2015More injury woe for Carberry
Tiger ready to Roll
Surrey National target for Itoldyou
Sire thrills Moore in Saturday spin
Walsh braced for Sceaux thriller
Festival dream alive for Desilvano
Martello on the march
Snowden excited by View return
Cole chasing Cleeve glory
Green light for Uttoxeter
Easter to swerve Skybet Chase
Pauling lands Town Moor double
Anna aiming for Trophy triumph
Blaklion on prowl at Doncaster
Sceaux primed for Arkle test
Geraghty hoping Co call pays off
Sherwood's head not in the Clouds
Jezki has Fly in sights again
Ground 'not ideal' for Fly
23 January 2015Greatrex plotting Aintree route
Fulton outlines Easter worry
Dunshea handed BHA role
Mullins mapping out bumper plans
Kalkir to Spring into action
Uttoxeter call morning check
Doncaster gets green light
Weather beats Fontwell
Frost claims Huntingdon card
Frost claims Huntingdon card
Williams On alert for Cheltenham
Safety first for Godolphin
Djak is six of the best for Mullins
Dicosimo delivers at Gowran
Last-gasp Dedigout takes Galmoy
Zig to tackle JLT prep in Pendil
Palace and Poli star in RSA field
Mullins luminaries in Arkle frame
Fishers Cross to swerve Cleeve
22 January 2015Teaforthree forced out of Warwick
Aubusson jousts for Pertemps prize
Veteran Victory set Lingfield date
Cloonacool to vie for Imperial rule
Assembly out for the season
Captain at ease
Checks at Doncaster and Huntingdon
Warwick defeats the elements
Fakenham ready to roll
Wet Festival would suit Gamble team
All systems go for Cheltenham
Monksland continues comeback
Grate effort sparks Aintree dreams
Pendil plan for Rendezvous
Swan on Track for second Thyestes
Another landmark day for Chelmsford
Moore admits Sire fitness worry
Calipto stands firm in Betfair