Nodforms Paula created a fair impression when running out an easy winner of the State Rox Off Novices' Hurdle at Doncaster today.
Trained by Paul Nicholls and owned by John Hales, the 9-4 favourite was settled in rear by Ruby Walsh as Osolomio cut out the early running.
Walsh asked his mount to take closer order as the principals swung for home, and after gaining the initiative between the last two flights, Nodforms Paula stayed on far too powerfully to score by 13 lengths from Osolomio.
Hales said: "You couldn't be disappointed with him last time as he bled. That was much better.
"Ruby thinks he'll make a three-mile chaser in time and that actually turned into a bit of a stamina test.
"He'll probably have one more run this season and then we'll put him away for the next one."
Persistence paid off for James Reveley as he and Star Beat dug deep to secure top honours in the Sands Venue Live Entertainment Handicap Hurdle.
The 7-2 chance was always prominent in the extended three-mile event but looked in trouble when eventual runner-up Leac An Scail edged into a narrow lead after the last.
However, Star Beat stuck to his guns under a determined Reveley to regain command and power on to a one-length success.
The winning jockey said: "It's a fair old way from the home bend and I just tried to save a bit for the finish.
"Thankfully he jumped the last few well and then stuck on very well for me."
Much interest in the race was focused on McKelvey, second in last year's Grand National but off the track due to injury since.
After travelling well for a long way, the nine-year-old faded into eighth but left connections more than satisfied.
Trainer Peter Bowen said: "I'm delighted with that and he would definitely have needed it.
"Ideally, I'd like to get one more run into him over hurdles in around two or two and a half weeks and then we'll be straight to the National again.
"He was a bit fresh to begin with but Tom (O'Brien, jockey) was really happy with him and said he felt fine, there were no problems with his legs.
"He would have only been about 80% fit today and his mark is high enough over hurdles so I'm really pleased, I can sleep well tonight!"
Tjade Collier, who had to settle for second aboard Leac An Scail, gained swift compensation as Ela Re showed a willing attitude to secure the State Of Dance Handicap Chase.
Sent off at 5-2, Sue Smith's gelding made much of the early running with Schinken Otto and that pair looked to have matters between them as they turned for home.
Chaninbar subsequently emerged as a big threat but crashed out at the penultimate obstacle, leaving Ela Re to come home five lengths to the good.
Winning owner Keith Nicholson said: "Harvey (Smith) bought him for me from a seller and he was very fiery when they first had him so they deserve a lot of the accolades.
"I really fancied him today and he was well on top at the line.
"I don't back them but I do run a tipping line and I put him up as a maximum bet, so that's even better than backing him."
Cloudy Lane (100-30) cemented his claims for the John Smith's Grand National with an impressive victory in the Coolfun Ltd Grimthorpe Chase.
Cloudy Lane, trained by Donald McCain Jnr, jumped into the lead at the second last and powered away to win by seven lengths from Ungaro.
The eight-year-old was cut to 6-1 favourite from 9-1 with VC Bet for the Aintree showpiece next month.
Mr Pointment was a big disappointment, fading from the fourth last after making the early running.