Master Minded bounced back from a shock defeat at Aintree to win the Amlin 1965 Chase at Ascot for the second year running.
The dual Champion Chase hero joined Somersby before the second-last and pulled away before the final fence to win in tremendous style by three lengths.
The 2-1 joint-favourite, trained by Paul Nicholls, sauntered clear under Daryl Jacob, who was riding Clive Smith’s eight-year-old in public for the first time.
Somersby, who had made a bold bid for glory when taking over the lead from Stagecoach Pearl, was second, with Medermit third.
Kalahari King was a big disappointment, being pulled up at halfway.
Nicholls watched the race from Haydock where he confirmed the target for Master Minded was the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on December 26.
“The ground looked quick enough for him. I’m chuffed. A lot of people were quick to write him off after Aintree,” he said.
“I knew he would improve and I tried to explain to everybody he would.
“He has improved and he will still improve for Kempton where he want him at his very best.
“He wouldn’t win any King George if he was at his best the first day. He is slightly better right-handed. Daryl gave him a peach of a ride, which is as important as anything for him.
“We are back where we want to be.”
Jacob said: ``Paul, the owners and everyone at the yard has been very supportive of me and have given me every opportunity. It's nice to repay with them with a good winner like today.
“He travelled great and I thought they nearly went too slow for me all the way.
“They quickened up and I’ve got accelerating going down the hill – he jumped great and picked up well going to the second-last to go away and win the race.
“He definitely wants two and a half miles plus now. He’s got a high cruising speed and will keep going and pick up off it as well.”
Nicholls was represented at Ascot by assistant trainer Dan Skelton, who said: ``He has improved massively for the run (at Aintree), and we've still left a bit to work on for the King George.
“He’ll go straight to Kempton now and he could probably do with a bit more cut in the ground than today, which is what he should get there.
“Daryl said he settled immediately and that’s great to see because if he is going to get three miles he does need to settle.”
Henrietta Knight also has the King George in mind for Somersby, saying: “It was a good run. Three miles suits and he is definitely going for the King George.”
Asked how Kalahari King was, jockey Graham Lee said: “He’s fine, he’s OK.”