Bravemansgame made an impressive debut over fences with an all-the-way triumph in the Aubrey Loze Memorial Intermediate Chase at Newton Abbot.
Given a positive ride by Harry Cobden, the Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old ran his rivals into submission with a superb round of jumping.
The Big Breakaway tried to launch a challenge, but was up against it when he came down at the final fence. That left Fusil Raffles, a three-time novice chase winner last term, to pick up second place – five lengths behind the 4-6 favourite.
“That was a fantastic performance. We knew he jumped well and he was absolutely brilliant out there. I said to Harry ‘you’ve got no weight, so if you want to bowl along do so’,” Nicholls told Sky Sports Racing.
“He did that nicely and he’s not filly wound up yet. We were originally going to go straight to Wincanton for the Rising Stars, but when it rained we thought he’d have some education here in a race instead of schooling him at home and that’s why we brought him here.
“And we’ve won it before with a novice, Black Corton. With 10st 8lb because they’re a novice they get the allowances and it’s useful to use. There’d have been nowhere to go before Wincanton. This is perfect.
“He’s not that robust and he doesn’t need a lot work. He ran at Cheltenham and Aintree last season and had hard races, but he’s had a nice summer. We’ve just ticked him along nicely.
“The Rising Stars next and I’m not totally convinced he needs to go three miles yet. We’ll just make a plan with him as the season goes along and mind him.”
Nicholls’ gelding was third to Bob Olinger at Cheltenham, and could meet Henry de Bromhead’s star again at some stage as he too is going chasing.
Reflecting on the Festival run, Ditcheat trainer added: “Harry said to me he couldn’t believe going to the second-last someone was at his shoulder – he (Bob Olinger) must be a very smart horse, hopefully he stays in Ireland and they don’t meet too soon!”
Nicholls and Cobden were completing a quick double after Skatman (6-4 favourite) took the British Stallion Studs EBF ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle.