V for victory for Henderson
Britain's two top jump trainers were head-to-head once again at Sandown with Nicky Henderson ahead of Paul Nicholls in the David Johnson National Hunt Novices' Hurdle.
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Nicholls' Vibrato Valtat was the 6/4 favourite after Rules experience and travelled smoothly into the lead but Henderson's ex-Irish pointer Vaniteux (7/2) had the greater speed on the run-in and scored by a length and a half.
"Barry (Geraghty, jockey) sat on him in Ireland and liked him," said Henderson. "He was running in points and not getting home and you can see why, he's all speed and a two-miler."
Nicholls, however, went on to complete a treble on the card while saddling five winners in total countrywide.
Hinterland advertised his Arkle credentials in the King Henry VIII Chase by which time Saphir Du Rheu had already obliged.
He was given a quick turnaround by Nicholls and emerged a wide-margin winner of the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.
Still only four, the youngest in the field, the 8/1 chance had finished fourth at Newbury last weekend.
Saphir Du Rheu was absolutely cruising for Daryl Jacob and left Home Run, who had also looked to be going well, trailing by eight lengths.
Nicholls said: "He was unlucky last week, if he'd gone another way around he would have won and wouldn't be running here. He only went up a couple of pounds so it was worth a go. I don't have a plan, but he'll be a lovely chaser next season."
There's No Panic (9/1) rounded off a terrific day for the Ditcheat team in the LDS Leak Detection Specialists London National.
The trainer said: "His main plan will be the old Whitbread back here in the spring."
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The Nick Williams stable is also firing at the moment and Benefique Royale (12/1) followed up the success of The Italian Yob on Friday's card in the "Hutch" Anniversary Anne Boleyn Mares' Handicap Hurdle.
Brought through smoothly by Brendan Powell, the chestnut was neck-and-neck with Teochew at the final flight but they were divided by two and a quarter lengths at the line.
"It's just nice to get some weight," said Williams. "Every time we run in a mares' race we're top weight. She stays well and will just continue in these sort of races."
Leighton Aspell performed arguably the escape act of the season as Deep Trouble lived up to his name jumping the last in the Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts December Handicap Hurdle.
The Ben Case-trained 7/1 chance dived dramatically to his right at the final flight, with Aspell doing amazingly well to keep the partnership intact.
Not only did he do that but also managed to keep the forward momentum going and had enough left to see off Urbain De Sivola by a length.
Aspell said: "When I got to the front I thought I was going to be a good winner, but he pricked his ears then.
"Because the hurdles are on the left today there's not a lot of room on the right, so when I jumped it I was still going left. I got across to the rail and got my feet out and luckily had enough energy to hold on."
Case said: "Leighton has maybe ridden for me once before, I wanted someone who would be cool on the horse and he did a job."