Darlan is Christmas star

Darlan (3/1) gave Nicky Henderson a fifth win in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, producing a dazzling display under Tony McCoy.

Connections had been concerned about the testing ground for the JP McManus-owned gelding but he was always travelling strongly in a tactical affair and showed a blistering turn of foot to settle matters in a couple of strides after the second last.

From then on it was only a matter of how far Tony McCoy wanted to win by and at the line he had four-and-a-half lengths in hand of nearest pursuer Raya Star (8/1).

There seemed no excuses for last year's leading novice hurdlers Countrywide Flame and Cinders And Ashes, Darlan comprehensively reversing Supreme form with the latter.

He is Sky Bet's new favourite for the Stan James Champion Hurdle, 4/1 from 9/1.