Lance Bombardier Jody Sole needed a little help from champion trainer Paul Nicholls finally to get his hands on Sandown's Royal Artillery Gold Cup.
Dating back to 1863, the prize is one of the oldest events in the calendar and raises the curtain for a small series of races at the Esher course restricted to amateur riders from the Armed Services.
Nicholls was happy to engage active point-to-point jockey Sole for Gwanako as he had won the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Memorial Hunters' Chase aboard the gelding last season.
Gwanako has found things tough in regulation handicap chases, but Nicholls has collected the race four times previously with similar individuals and the 7-4 favourite was produced late on the scene to draw eight lengths clear of Fine Parchment.
Sole said: "I've been second in it a few times, including last year and the year before. I've won the Grand Military Gold Cup and the Queen Mother Memorial, but being an ex-King's Troop, Royal Artillery man, it means a lot to finally win it. It's different riding a 130-rated chaser, but I'll be back to maiden points on Sunday."
Nicholls' Bold Edition (2-1) was later a facile winner of the CGA Hunters' Chase.
Former Northumberland Plate winner Tominator (9-4) has made a stuttering start to life with Jonjo O'Neill, who kept plans close to his chest after Tony McCoy galvanised the grey past Leviathan in the Reclaims UK Helping Soldiers Novices' Hurdle.
"We've got the novice route and we might put him in some (Cheltenham) handicaps to have a look, but I'm worried he hasn't had enough experience," the trainer said.
Pistol is making steady progress, even if he only just scrambled home ahead of Sash Of Honour in a rematch from a recent Newbury meeting in the London Southend Airport Juvenile Hurdle.
Trainer Philip Hobbs said of his 11-10 favourite: "The obvious race would be the Fred Winter at Cheltenham - he hasn't won by far so you wouldn't think the handicapper will do much to him after that."
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