Silviniaco Conti further cemented his position as a leading contender for Cheltenham Gold Cup honours with a straightforward success in the Denman Chase at Newbury.
Rapidly progressive this season and arriving on the back of victory in the Charlie Hall Chase and a defeat of Long Run at Haydock last time out, the seven-year-old jumped three out in unison with The Giant Bolster and Mail De Bievre, who made a bold bid from the front on his British debut.
Silviniaco Conti (8-11 favourite) asserted going to the final fence and was quickly away from it, staying on well to see off last year's Gold Cup runner-up The Giant Bolster, to whom he was giving 4lb, by seven lengths.
Winning rider Ruby Walsh said: "Through the race he travelled well and jumped well. He quickened up well and joined Paddy (Brennan, on Mail De Bievre). He did well for a horse short of full fitness on quite testing ground. Paul (Nicholls) has not got him fully wound up. He has one race in mind.
"If he improves as much from the Charlie Hall as he did to the Betfair Chase he will run a big race in the Gold Cup. He's a gem. He's got plenty of scope. There's lots to like about him."
Nicholls added: "I said he wouldn't be fully wound up today, you wouldn't expect him to be. It was just what we wanted. He galloped well and stayed on strongly. It's on to Cheltenham now.
"He's done everything right. He's won a Betfair, he's won a Charlie Hall and he's won this now. He's a young, improving horse. Let him do the talking."
David Bridgwater, trainer of The Giant Bolster, is relishing another crack at the Gold Cup, in which he was second 12 months ago to Synchronised.
He said: "I'm chuffed to bits. Cheltenham is a different track and this is the one they want to be worried about. I can guarantee I have missed more work than the other horse."
Tom George, trainer of Mail De Bievre, who was just touched off for fourth by Junior, said: "I'm very happy with him. He's very exuberant and Paddy (Brennan) said with hindsight we should have run him over two miles. He's in the Ryanair, it's something to think about."
12 December 2013Pulses set racing at Newcastle
'Nasty cut' for Alexander
Bolger back on cross-country trail
Theatre puts on Peterborough show
Artiste draws away from rivals
National hero lined up for Wetherby
Tizzard using Hennessy as a Guide
Dr Turner to leave BHA role
Whisky out for early redemption
Spirit going for golden double
Break for Balder after Sandown run
No problems at Kempton
McCoy wants rain for Fishers
McCoy mulls Gold decision
Butler appeals five-year ban
Burgoyne to take Triumph test
Fog claims Kempton card
Honeyball upbeat despite Regal loss
Byron has more targets overseas
O'Meara considers Ascot raid
Johnson excited by Captain's return
African reverts to timber
Return to Oz is Simenon's goal
11 December 2013Kempton hope for third-time lucky
McNeile leaves Cheltenham role
Kempton to inspect again
Fog claims Lingfield card
Three held over £2.4m VAT fraud
Home Farm denied Gold run
Three held in tax probe
BHA's Brickell at corruption summit
Hills has Smart purring
McCoy praise for retired Binocular
St Nick continues recovery fight
Big guns remain in Navan feature
New course key for Attaglance
Diakali team consider Relkeel run
Ruby given chase entry
Star pair head International list
10 December 2013Binocular bows out
Rock team plan positive tactics
Gold fails to sparkle
Regal takes Hexham test
Thyestes aim for Cootamundra
Walsh sweet on Arvika switch
Walters to present McNamara cheque
Aintree aim for Busy
Grand National aim for Your Busy
Walters to present McNamara cheque
Four-star Harley at Wolverhampton
Jacob all set for Al Ferof
Sprinter prospect exciting Kempton
Winner a Strongpoint for Crawford
Hurricane honoured in HRI awards
Ground key to Topper plans
African chasing Uttoxeter spoils
Prince set for Cheltenham Gold run
Betfair goal for Trouble
9 December 2013Drowne waits on X-ray news
Swan delighted with Changer
Wolverhampton to replace surface
Russell aims for Thursday return
Bright start for New Dawn
Twin lights up Hilly Way
Durkan stroll for Arvika
Unioniste has Lexus aim
New One heading to International
Drowne in hospital after fall
Baby in running for Warwick
Moore sets sights on Kempton
Cloud and Lantern sunk in Mile