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."
23 November 2014Croco in frame for Topham
Belle set for hurdling campaign
Deputy in Kempton firing line
McBratney banks on Boy progress
Silvi scraps to Betfair glory
Bally sparkles on Mullins' big day
Kelly's a Fixed Brush hero
Faugheen turns on the style
Fenton banned for three years
Amlin double for fab Ferof
New One excels in Haydock romp
Flyer grounds Ascot rivals
Vasco a cut above opposition
22 November 2014Conti strikes Betfair Chase gold
Taken seeking Listed gold
Mogol facing Monksfield test
Vautour makes chasing bow
Gordon enjoys Dundalk spin
McCoy: Landmark swayed judgment
Jacob warms up with brace
Hill peaking for Troytown return
Billy back on winning track
Walsh back for Ferof ride
New ready for Haydock Rush
Cheltenham is Big aim
Mullins eager for Faugheen run
Cue primed for Betfair defence
21 November 2014Geraghty snapped up for Seuil
Volnay aiming for quick repeat
Argocat camp play it cool
Leading Light retired
Frankel filly breaks Irish record
Linton loses Listed place
Doubles for Pipe and Scudamore
Nasty spill for Insole
McCoy targets midweek return
Farm comes Home to roost at Thurles
Flemenstar future dictated by scan
Cue lined up for Haydock return
20 November 2014McNamara joy at turning pro
Volnay seeking Mersey paradise
Sloane Avenue books Dubai date
Spencer reveals Qatar riding snub
Doyle ready for Godolphin challenge
Good news at Huntingdon
BHA hear Linton case
Avenue shows winning way
Grugy diagnosed with hip issue
Meade plots Monksland comeback
Ptit secures swift double
Shanes shines in hurdles win
Mullins' stars set for weekend runs
Haydock aim for Aurore
Medermit in Betfair contention