Sanctuaire returned to winning ways with an excellent round of jumping in the williamhill.com Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.
Having been put well in his place by Sprinter Sacre in the Tingle Creek, the Paul Nicholls-trained Sanctuaire was ridden with a bit more restraint in front by Ruby Walsh on this occasion. He was even headed turning into the straight by Wishfull Thinking and looked to be treading water.
Wishfull Thinking soon began to stop in front, however, and with Sanctuaire deciding to put his best foot forward, he regained the lead and powered clear for a 13-length win as the 11-8 favourite from Kumbeshwar.
Nicholls said: "He started to pull himself up on the back straight and I thought that was it, but when the others had gone past him he took off. He is quirky and silly, but you can ride him accordingly. If we can ride him with more restraint he could be interesting.
"We are going to have to take on Sprinter Sacre at Cheltenham, so I probably won't take him to Ascot first, we could maybe go to the Game Spirit, Cheltenham and then Sandown at the end of the season."
Nicholls already has a leading Triumph Hurdle contender in Far West, but he can be joined by Irish Saint after he skipped 18 lengths clear in the William Hill - iPad App Now Available Juvenile Hurdle. Sent off the 10-11 favourite after taking his debut in France, Irish Saint is 14-1 across the board for the Festival itself.
"He's a horse I want to look after as we view him as a chaser but he deserves a chance to go for something better now. I suppose he could come out again at the end of January at either Cheltenham or Haydock," said Nicholls.
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