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."
13 May 2013Fabre confirms Ocovango for Epsom
Aspect on route to big things
Room at the top for Cityscape
Freedom steps into chasing ranks
Lucky thirteen in line for Lockinge
Galway beckons for Swinton hero
Sajjhaa set for late return
Cadeaux thriving in Singapore
Pink primed for Duke Of York
Liber takes aim at Musidora
Battle won for O'Brien
Pretending the real deal
Duntle back to winning ways
Classic glory for Flotilla
Style wins the day in Paris
Highclere double-handed for Dante
Cornerstone plans up in the air
Beckett planning Gesture workout
12 May 2013No hurry for Jammy plans
Guest in hunt for more Ascot glory
Vow set for Goodwood return
Gold-en boy Anodin in Classic hunt
Buick aiming for French strike
Angel flies home to land Chartwell
Barizan bounces back in style
Queally lights up Ascot meeting
Ektihaam storms to Buckhounds win
Nevis takes depleted Trial contest
Hard-fought battle won at Haydock
Secret impresses in Oaks Trial
Ascot drama for Fanning
11 May 2013Felix foot-perfect on fencing debut
Cavalryman leads Cup charge
Ramsa ready to stand Trial
Duntle out to dazzle in Amethyst
Swift return doesn't bother Moran
Garman gives Bolger hope
Henderson: Ground vital for Voice
McMahon sweet on Tart Ascot claims
Murphy to move to France
Athos flies to Ormonde glory
Dee day for impressive Magician
Kingdom confirmed for Queen Anne
Secret's out for Lingfield glory
Lambe expects good run from Hall
Marengo ready to do battle
Greatwood on trial at Lingfield
Barizan sneaks into Swinton
Jamesie gunning for Vic-tory
10 May 2013Telescope focus is on Dante
Blinkers considered for Guarantee#
Bonfire camp bemoan Huxley flop
Moohaajim has six appeal
Ascot welcomes a couple of Guests