Briareus overcame a near two-year absence to deny the Paul Nicholls-trained I’msingingtheblues in the kempton.co.uk Graduation Chase.
Andrew Balding only has a handful of jumps horses but clearly has them in great heart as Briareus formed the second leg of a 54-1 double on the Kempton card.
Having been sidelined with leg problems since December 2006, the eight-year-old found a second wind to deny Nicholls’ 4-5 market leader by a length.
Balding’s chestnut was on an upward curve before injury intervened, but returned to the track as good as ever to provide Paddy Brennan with his 50th winner of the campaign.
The Kingsclere handler said of the 4-1 scorer: “His owners have been so patient after his problems and it would have been easy to give up.
“He wants a flat track and likes his races spaced out, so we will look at the King George next.
“I think he is ready for a step up in distance.
“The Queen Mother is an unlikely target and he would be more likely to wait for Aintree.”
Coral trimmed the winner into 25-1 from 50s for the King George, while William Hill were unmoved at 50s.
Balding earlier chalked up his second win of the 2008 National Hunt season as Show Winner (10-1) collected in the Book Kempton Tickets On 0844 5793008 Novices’ Hurdle.
Darren O’Dwyer kicked for home rounding the final bend on the 10-1 shot, who held the challenge of 5-4 favourite Michael Flips by two lengths.
Balding said: “It was a hot race he ran in first time at Cheltenham.
“But he stayed on and jumped well so I was reasonably confident we could take the race to them.
“A flat track and a good gallop suits him down to the ground, and hopefully he can win a nice handicap at some point.”
Shalone completed a three-timer in less fortunate circumstances than last time out at Exeter as he got the better of 4-7 favourite Tataniano in the Book Now For Boxing Day “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
Alan King’s four-year-old was booked for second on his most recent visit to the racecourse, only to be gifted the race when a Nicholls runner took a dive on the run-in.
King again got the better of his great rival, with Christian Williams urging his 5-2 shot past Nicholls’ Tataniano on the run-in for a length-and-a-quarter call.
King said: “He had good bumper form and I have been happy with his work, but he was fortunate at Exeter to beat Paul’s horse.
“He came on for that and Christian said he will come on again.”
Nicholls was also out of luck in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle as Nakai (11-4) finished over three lengths adrift of Nicky Henderson’s 5-2 favourite Duc De Regniere.
Henderson said: “He had a wonderful summer and came back in looking fantastic.
“It was a difficult decision to start back over hurdles but it is more difficult deciding where to go next.
“He ought to be back over fences and he has the talent to jump fences, but is a touch fragile structurally.”
Trainer Suzy Smith and jockey Wayne Kavanagh enjoyed their first wins for 129 and 172 days respectively as the former Henry Daly-trained Royal Kicks (5-1) put his sound jumping to good use in the Panoramic Bar & Restaurant Novices’ Handicap Chase.
Smith said: “He was travelling so well last week that it was unfortunate he fell.
“He handled this ground but softer ground would suit him better.”
Not many got into the closing exchanges of the three-mile TFM Networks Handicap Chase, with 8-1 chance Ashwell running out a 29-length winner.