There were no shocks in the opening race at Haydock Park as 2-11 chance Neptune Collonges obliged for those tempted to lay the odds.
However, the Paul Nicholls-trained grey was made to fight hard in the Brit Insurance Prestige Novices’ Hurdle as he was strongly pressed by Five Colours over the last two flights.
But he appears to have bottomless reserves of stamina and galloping on resolutely on the heavy going, he held on by a length under Christian Williams.
Neptune Collonges could now head for the Brit Insurance Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival if he gets his favoured soft ground, but it is a “big if” according to owner John Hales.
He said: “I had a quick word with Christian and he said he just did enough but he had to make all and it’s difficult on that ground.
“I’m happy with that as it’s very difficult from the front in those conditions Hopefully he’ll go to Cheltenham in three weeks. If he goes there – and it is a big if – he’ll go in the three-mile novices’ hurdle.”