Paul Nicholls is 1-4 with Coral to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup with reigning champion Kauto Star or the upcoming Denman after the latter stamped his class on the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown.
The same firm quote both horses at 6-4 for the blue riband, while sponsors totesport trimmed Kauto Star into 11-10 favouritism with his rival unchanged at 2-1.
Denman had marked himself out as the main danger to his stablemate when lugging top weight to victory in the Hennessy last month and he moved up another rung with his first Grade One success outside novice company.
Sent off the 4-9 favourite, he made virtually all under Ruby Walsh and shrugged off Robert Alner’s The Listener after the second-last before cruising to a four-length success.
Mossbank stayed on to pip The Listener for second, with Beef Or Salmon taking fourth.
Nicholls said: “He is a great jumper and hacked along in front with his ears pricked.
“I was slightly worried by the lack of pace but I don’t know the track as well as Ruby, so I left it entirely to him and he was always going to gallop all the way to the line.
“The Aon (at Newbury on February 9) would be a possibility next and he will have an entry back here in the Hennessy (February 10), but nothing is set in stone.
“Hopefully he will end up at the Gold Cup and, like Kauto Star, will have one more run before.”
Grand National-winning jockey Robbie Power missed out on a Grade One success following a nasty fall on Thursday as his intended mount Notre Pere landed the Knight Frank Ganly Walters Novice Chase.
Power came a cropper from Chelsea Harbour at the first fence in the Paddy Power Chase and was stood down for the mandatory 21 days having suffered concussion.
His misfortune benefited Andrew Lynch as he took over on Jim Dreaper’s six-year-old in the three-mile test and guided the 7-2 chance home by a head.
Dreaper said: “It’s been such a long time since I had a Grade One horse that I have forgotten all of the good races so I’m not sure where he will go next!”
The Bowe family had previous tasted success in the Woodiesdiy.com Christmas Hurdle with Limestone Lad and they again captured the Grade Two event, this time with 11-10 favourite Sweet Kiln.
Tom Doyle held the eight-year-old up and allowed her to get her eager head in front swinging towards the final flight and she eased away for a two-and-a-half-length call.
“The last twice she has made the running and been pipped at the post, so we decided to change the tactics,” said trainer Michael Bowe.
“I would dearly love to try and win the new mares’ race at Cheltenham with her as she does handle good ground and she would like the track.”
Cashmans introduced Sweet Kiln at 6-1 for the David Nicholson Memorial Mares’ Hurdle on March 14.