Bobs Worth showed his class with a convincing victory in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.
Last season's RSA Chase hero was giving trainer Nicky Henderson his second success in the race and jockey Barry Geraghty his first.
Leading at the final fence in an incident-packed race, the 4-1 shot strode away to score from Tidal Bay, with gallant Irish raider First Lieutenant third and The Package fourth.
Henderson said: "It wasn't until I looked at him three nights ago at evening stables that I thought he was ready, it was like a rose coming out to bloom. He was always thought to be the classiest horse in the race and in a way he had to win it, but I am mighty glad that he has.
"He is so tough and he's owned by a bunch of my oldest mates, so this is for them more than anything.
"From now on it's a matter of plotting a gentle path to Cheltenham (for the Gold Cup). I don't think Kempton is his track, it's a matter of how we get there. One run would do me to be honest with you."
Paul Nicholls said of Tidal Bay: "He ran a great race and if Bobs Worth is going to be a Gold Cup horse he probably had to beat us like that.
"He's been beaten three lengths under a huge weight and we will go to the Lexus now."
Mouse Morris, trainer of First Lieutenant, said: "He's run a cracker, he's a spring horse and would have preferred better ground but I'm not using that as an excuse. He'll go for the Lexus."
6 December 2013Carberry sidelined for weekend
Sir champing at bit for Durkan date
Dunaden 'back to his best'
Glance sights fixed on Cup glory
Strawbridge coy over Cloud future
Baby on board for Becher
Sire out to profit from Sacre blow
Queen awarded ROA honour
Three-month ban for Arnold
Contrite Butler must 'rebuild life'
Nicholls watching ground for Roque
Topper tests Future waters
Murphy hit by nine-day ban
Big field for Becher
Sacre forced out of Sandown return
Cadeaux team enjoying the ride
Lantern burning bright once more
5 December 2013Rasen survives wind scare
Festival switch for Mares' race
Sacre out of Tingle Creek
No luck for Jwala in Sprint draw
Aigles well ahead of fourth Cup bid
Rasen to check on wind
Butler considers ban response
Court team eyeing Huntingdon return
Oscar on course for Cheltenham
Cantlow in Cheltenham frame
Juddmonte "not for sale"
Noseda content with Grand journey
Cloud future hinges on Mile outcome
Road charts route towards Becher
Knight backs Somersby to shine
4 December 2013Butler handed five-year ban
Rain key to Azorian Navan bid
Greatrex ponders Baby gameplan
Pipe tinkers with Crus schedule
Fahy eyes Morning glory in Topaz
Verse goes for a song at Tatts
King brings up personal milestone
King issues bleak Invictus update
Tatenen chasing December gold
Rocky revved up for Lexus
Sir and Star set for Durkan date
Sandown heat attracts novice stars
Bolster aiming for confidence boost
Hill faces Becher test
3 December 2013British pair head Power weights
Sea sidesteps Exeter date
Madison Du Berlais dies of colic
Huxley retired from the saddle
Lynam hoping for winning Power
Mullins maps Sceaux plan
Wrist injury sidelines Dalton
Bob on World trail
Sacre a doubt for Tingle Creek
Europe sets sail for Leopardstown
Mullins banks on Hurricane progress
Stellar turnout for Lexus
Wishfull heads Sefton contenders
Junior at Becher summit
Fenton big-hitters near return
Tank team consider options