Henderson high on Hill
Newbury provided easy pickings for Nicky Henderson with Josses Hill featuring among a 10-1 treble for the champion trainer and Barry Geraghty.
Quality does not come cheap in National Hunt racing, and Alan Spence's £100,000 bought him a classic-looking chasing type who was beaten 22 lengths into second by Faugheen on his debut in a bumper at the Punchestown Festival.
Faugheen is presently tearing his way through the Irish novice scene for Willie Mullins and Josses Hill did exactly the same at Ascot last month before being sent jumping in the Tony Jones 60th Birthday Bash Maiden Hurdle.
The even-money favourite gave his hurdles plenty of air but Geraghty did not need to work too hard to win readily by three lengths.
"He's a gorgeous horse, but just a baby," said Henderson.
"He jumps his hurdles like fences. We'll mind him this season before he goes over fences next year."
Sky Bet introduced him at 33-1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle as well as the Neptune.
Hadrian's Approach (9-4) was in need of a small-field confidence-booster after losing his rider early in the Hennessy Gold Cup on the same course 18 days earlier, which Geraghty won on stablemate Triolo D'Alene.
Although always dogged by jumping issues, he was foot-perfect in the Coolmation Graduation Chase to beat another Hennessy non-completer, Super Duty, by a length and a quarter.
Henderson said: "It was a lovely race for him, and if you don't have races like this, a horse like him is never going to understand it. Another crash, bang, wallop like the Hennessy and he'd be finished.
"It would be nice to find another of these, but he could be one to save for later on now."
Triumph Hurdle quotes quickly arrived after Dawalan (4-6 favourite) built on his debut fourth in a hot event at the Hennessy meeting by coming eight lengths clear in the Blackmore Building Juvenile Hurdle.
Impressively, Dawalan is a half-brother to the brilliant pair Daylami and Dalakhani, but Henderson said: "I think he's more of a Fred Winter horse (than Triumph) at the moment, but there's not much margin for error getting into that race and you never know.
"He's come on for his first run."
The pair were denied a four-timer when Hughie Morrison's Brother Brian (7-1) came late to foil Tistory in the EBF Stallions "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle.
Paul Nicholls was astounded to see Benvolio returned the 8-1 winner of the Watch On 3 Devices racinguk.com/anywhere Novices' Limited Handicap Chase.
This second attempt over fences went far better than his previous one, when he fell at the first at Fontwell, and he refused to allow 7-4 favourite Midnight Prayer to go past, eventually scoring by two lengths after a long duel.
"When I saw his price I thought I must have missed a trick, as I thought he'd go really well," said Nicholls.
"He won twice at Wincanton last season and this was basically his first run over fences. He's a nice little horse."
Tony McCoy punished his rivals for giving him an easy lead aboard Chestnut Ben (11-2) in the Powersolve Electronics Greatwood Charity Handicap Chase.
Sharp Newmarket trainer John Butler turned to the perennial champion to do the honours on Montana Belle (5-1) in the Kentford Racing Fillies' "Junior" bumper.
Third on her debut at Warwick, she is a daughter of one Derby winner in High Chaparral, and from the family of another in Commander In Chief.
"She's a nice big filly," said Butler. "There's a winners' bumper at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, and she'll go there if she's not been sold."