Ok Corral was made the 3/1 favourite by Sky Bet for the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham following a convincing success in the McCoy Contractors 2019 Construction News Awards Finalist Hampton Novices' Chase at Warwick on Saturday.
With amateur rider Derek O'Connor coming over for the mount, with a view to riding this horse in the four-miler at Cheltenham, intentions from connections were clear.
He was uneasy in the market, though, drifting from morning quotes of 6/4 to 11/4 on the off, as support flooded in for Kim Bailey's Rocky's Treasure, who was sent off the 6/5 favourite.
David Bass made the running on the market leader, but as he applied the pressure rounding the turn for home Ok Corral was tanking under O'Connor in behind.
Secret Investor was also going better than Rocky's Treaure by this point and he took things up before the final two fences in the straight, but Ok Corral loomed up jumping the second last and there was only going to be one winner from there.
Pushed out to win by six lengths, it was no surprise to see Nicky Henderson's winner shortened into favouritism for the amateur riders' race at the Festival.
Speaking from Kempton, Henderson said: "It was only his second run over fences after going round Plumpton on his own three weeks ago.
"I was delighted with the way he jumped today and he won it because he was quicker than the others were. That is the interesting bit - that he did them for toe rather than gallop them into the ground.
"He's a nine-year-old running in novice chases as he had so many problems as a youngster, but we're on the road now.
"As you can guess, the point of Derek O'Connor coming to ride him was that we were thinking about the four miler, and I would think we still are.
"It didn't look like he was crying out for four miles, but I expect Derek to say we should stick to the plan.
"I would imagine he'll have one more run (before Cheltenham)."
Beakstown romps home in Leamington
Dan Skelton is not committing to a trip to Cheltenham for Beakstown despite his impressive success in the Ballymore Leamington Novices' Hurdle.
The Irish point-to-point graduate made a successful hurdling debut at Uttoxeter in November, but suffered a short-priced defeat on his latest outing at Newcastle.
He was a 6-1 shot stepping up to Grade Two level and there was plenty to like about the way he went about his business, ultimately coming home three and three-quarter lengths clear of Stoney Mountain under the trainer's brother, Harry.
"He was impressive and fair play to the lads in Ireland who had this horse as they really buzzed him up and talked a lot about him," the winning trainer told Racing TV.
"He beat a good horse at Uttoxeter and I had him down as a Challow Hurdle horse. I knew I had to get a second run into him before the Challow, but I ran him back too quickly at Newcastle. That was my fault.
"He's still green, but he's always looked like a good horse. He's only half the finished article and we've got to look after him.
"Cheltenham has got to be highly considered and I'd imagine he'll be entered for the Ballymore and the Albert Bartlett
"But you can see how big he is and this is really a chaser, so we've got to bear that in mind."
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