Ferdy Murphy's L'Antartique is set for a step up in class after making a successful seasonal debut under Graham Lee in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase.
The 11-4 shot tended to jump left-handed but he travelled well and after heading 8-11 favourite Ungaro at the final fence, he kept on to pass the post with one and a quarter lengths to spare.
Murphy said: “We needed to get a run into him and blow the cobwebs away. Graham said he had strengthened up and went to post better than he had at any time last season.
“A faster run race would have suited him and Graham said the ground was quite dead but we have two weeks now before the Paddy Power Gold Cup and Cheltenham will suit him better – he won the Jewson at the Festival in March.”
The West Witton trainer added: “I think the form of the race today is a bit false, the favourite may not have really liked the ground.
“But it was a good start and we just want some rain now. We worked 80 horses on Tuesday, they have all been schooled and Graham said they are ready to run.”