A round-up of the rest of the action from Sandown as Dynamite Dollars claimed a seventh Henry VIII Novices' Chase for Paul Nicholls.
Dollars claims the cash for Nicholls
Dynamite Dollars turned the form from his previous race on its head to win the randoxhealth.com Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown, with Lalor only third.
Lalor had looked so impressive at Cheltenham when winning on his chasing debut with Dynamite Dollars seven lengths back in second - but Paul Nicholls has not been a multiple champion trainer by shying away from a challenge and took him on again.
Unfortunately for favourite-backers, Lalor never looked completely happy on much softer ground and going right-handed, as Diakali and Irish raider Ornua set a searching early pace.
When Diakali dropped away, Ornua was left in front under young Dylan Robinson, but Dynamite Dollars (9/2) was stalking and Lalor struggling on back in third.
Jumping the last it looked as if Ornua may hold on, but Harry Cobden persevered on the 9-2 chance and he stayed on strongly up the hill to win by a length and three-quarters in a stirring finish to the Grade One affair.
Nicholls said: "It was impressive. It's amazing how five-year-olds improve. Last season he was a fairly ordinary novice hurdler and he has physically improved.
"When I saw him in the paddock at Cheltenham, I thought he didn't look that great, but today I said to Tom Malone, who brought Lalor up in the box, don't count him out, as he looks so much different today than he was the last time.
"He has just improved. He gallops, he stays, he's a proper horse. He jumps and stays, a real tough horse."
The winner was handed a 14/1 quote for the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham by Sky Bet.
Rider Richard Johnson felt the tacky ground was against the Kayley Woollacott-trained Lalor: "He just laboured in the ground. I have only ridden him a couple of times before, but that is the worst ground I've ridden him on.
"They were concerned about it, but thought we had to run. He has this run under his belt now and they can wait now and find some nicer ground, and maybe have one more run before Cheltenham.
"He seems to have come out of the race well and that is just a bit more experience. I'm still looking forward to Cheltenham."
John Phelan, owner of Ornua, was delighted with second place for Henry de Bromhead's charge: "We were hoping he would run really well, but this was beyond our expectations.
"We always thought he was underrated and this shows what a good horse he is. He was travelling so well. I thought we had it at the last, but he just got run out of it. But he has run a tremendous race.
"He is in at Leopardstown on December 26 and then he will have a rest. We were not planning on Cheltenham - we were planning to rest him for Aintree and Punchestown, but I will have to talk to Henry now.
"He will definitely have a rest after Punchestown, if he goes to Punchestown."
Can-do attitude from I Can't Explain
Nicky Henderson got Tingle Creek Chase day off to the perfect start with victory in the Core Spreads "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle.
I Can't Explain arrived with a tall reputation and was sent off the 11/8 market leader under Nico De Boinville, who had the five-year-old well placed throughout on the shoulder of the leader.
He sent him after turning into the home straight and the response was really impressive, I Can't Explain powering up the hill and jumping the last with plenty left in the tank.
Phoenix Way (8/1) showed up extremely well in second, especially considering Barry Geraghty was also thrown from the saddle as Harry Fry's horse made a mistake down the side of the course, but the winner had five lengths in hand at the line.
Third went to the running-on 16/1 chance Holt The Note.
Henderson said: "We use the race quite a lot, I think, don't we? This is a nice place to start them off and when you have a nice horse, it is always good to start them off at a nice place.
"He handled the ground well, but it was quite hard work. But that is why you'd run him over two miles in that ground, as he would probably run over two-five on anything quicker than that.
"You wouldn't mind seeing him doing it again, as he has only had one point-to-point, so I would not like to jump into too deep a pond, too soon.
"He is only five and he has always been pretty professional. He is very straightforward. At the moment, there are no quirks or foibles hiding there. He seems to just get on with his job."
Sky Bet introduced the winner into their antepost markets for the Cheltenham Festival in March, the horse available at 25/1 for the Sky Bet Supreme and 20/1 for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle over the longer distance of two miles, five furlongs.
Sky Bet's Michael Shinners said: "The word was out for I Can't Explain and he delivered under a pretty uncomplicated ride. The Sky Bet Supreme market has yet to fully catch fire but we were impressed and make him 25s for the Festival curtain-raiser.
"He could end up wanting further as the season goes on so we decided to go 20/1 for the Ballymore. Either way, hopefully he's a name we'll be hearing a lot more of this year and beyond."
Morny Wing a National treasure
Morney Wing (12/1) proved another gallant winner, knuckling down to record a hard-fought length success over Red Infantry in the Betfair London National in the hands of 7lb claimer Rex Dingle.
Racing from 11lb out of the handicap, the nine-year-old gained a seventh chasing success.
Trainer Charlie Mann said: "We took the decision to take 7lb off and that has helped. He has given him a great ride. He loves this heavy ground and we were badly handicapped last year.
"We will likely look for similar races such as this, the Sussex Nationals and the like. As long as he gets his ground, he'll keep giving his best. I'm delighted with him and delighted for the syndicate, who have had a lot of success with him."
Dingle added: "I dreamed it would pan out like that and I'm overwhelmed that I have won it. He just kept popping away. It is fantastic."
Papa shows true grit
Papagana (11/2) looks a mare with promise after she took the Elmbridge Mares' Handicap Hurdle in good fashion, staying on nicely up the hill under Aidan Coleman.
One of the least exposed in the line-up, the Oliver Sherwood-trained five-year-old had left her bumper efforts behind when she scooted in at Ffos Las in May - but had blotted her copybook with a tame effort at Market Rasen five months later.
However, on vastly different ground, she made smooth progress down the far side and stayed on strongly to win in the end, answering every question to score by two-and-three-quarter lengths from Jubilympics, who rallied to claim second from the one-paced Secret Door.
Coleman said: "I only rode her at Ffos Las before and she won that day. She is a very straightforward filly and a very good jumper.
"I was always quite happy she would finish, as I wanted to fill her up turning in on this soft ground. When I got running between two out and the last, she was always going to finish strong.
"The old adage is: she'll be better over fences as well!"
Poet in full flow
The Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle always looked likely to prove a war of attrition in the testing conditions, and so it proved, as the Venetia Williams-trained Eminent Poet (14/1) stuck on dourly to score by six lengths from Another Emotion.
Eminent Poet had scored when the mud was flying at Haydock and Wetherby last winter and relished the conditions on his seasonal debut, taking it up two out after stalking long-time leader Loose Chips, who eventually finished a further four lengths back in third.
While it proved hard work up the hill, jockey Hugh Nugent always looked to have a bit left in the tank and the 7lb claimer was delighted with the way the seven-year-old kept finding more.
Nugent said: "This was my first ride here. I had a quick walk around and asked the other lads what they thought of the ground. It has gone well for me - I like it now. I was a bit worried they had not gone quick enough, even on that ground, because he is a stayer.
"But he is so tough, it doesn't really matter with him, because he just ploughs through it, no matter how heavy. That was my only ride today, so one ride and one win - I'll take that.
"That is my second win of the season in my first year as a professional. I turned professional last year after having 12 winners as an amateur and I am now with Venetia. It is going well so far."
Man finds plenty for pressure
Man Of Plenty invariably gives his best and his consistency has been his downfall in recent times, but he defied the handicapper in game fashion to land the Jumeriah Hotels and Resorts December Handicap Hurdle.
It was just the third success of the Sophie Leach-trained nine-year-old's career, yet it was not unexpected, as he had been well supported, into 8/1 from 16s.
He picked up the bridle turning in and got the better of Nelson's Touch to draw away for a seven-length success in the Listed contest.
Winning jockey Sean Houlihan, who claimed 5lb, said: "He was very good - he always has been, though. He has just been running in very competitive races for the last 16 months or so.
"He does stay further, which probably helped him (coming back in trip today). He's a hardened handicapper and it is just great to get his head in front."
My Stable - Horse Tracking Made Simple
It’s that time of the year when jump season takes centre stage. With thousands of horses, hundreds of jockeys and plenty of trainers performing across the UK & Ireland in multiple meetings every single day, it can be tough to keep track of all that catches your eye.
But not any longer. Our My Stable service is the simple and perfect way to stay on top (and ahead) of the game. You can easily follow the progress of your favourite horses, jockeys and trainers across six months of pure racing theatre by adding them to My Stable.
It’s your own personal space on your free Sporting Life account where you can create a yard full of talent that means something to you. That way, you can develop your racing knowledge and build a better picture of the races to come. Plus, you also get notifications when anyone in My Stable is due to perform so you never miss a jump – or an opportunity to profit.