Landmark victory for Fry
It took Harry Fry only five attempts to come up with his first winner as Highland Retreat got the better of Alberobello at Exeter.
Although credited with the success of Rock On Ruby in last season's Champion Hurdle, Fry was then only an assistant trainer overseeing Paul Nicholls' satellite stable at Seaborough in Dorset, which became his own place this autumn.
Rock On Ruby remains in his care, along with the likes of King Of The Night and Robinson Collonges.
Highland Retreat (10-1) had fallen on her previous start in the point-to-point field and was always in contention under Jack Barber, passing the line just a head in front of Alberobello with the pair battling together down the home straight.
"To get the first winner on the board is a relief, to say the least, said Fry.
"To go and do it with a horse owned by Richard Barber - who is my landlord and a man I owe everything to - and for it to be ridden by his grandson Jack is a fairy story.
"I thought she would stay and Jack rode her very well. I don't think it was the strongest race but we'll look for another mares race now."
It was clearly a day of new beginnings for the Westcountry fraternity up on a foggy Haldon Hill, with Nicholls saddling his first winner for powerful new owner JP McManus.
Mr Mole could be a future star in the green and gold silks after taking what looked a high-quality renewal of the Barclays 40 Years of Wedded Bliss Novices' Hurdle.
Snapped up after a debut bumper victory at Hereford in the spring, the 6-4 chance fluffed the first flight but Tony McCoy remained unruffled even with 6-5 favourite Melodic Rendezvous, who was second to Champagne Fever in the Punchestown Champion Bumper, looming alongside.
The champion pushed Mr Mole a length and a half clear of Jeremy Scott's runner by the post.
"It was our first runner for JP and it was the right result, so we're very pleased," Nicholls told Racing UK.
"He is very green, he was green in the bumper last season and he was again today. He's done loads of schooling but I think he just finds everything so easy. If we look after him he ought to be a nice horse."
McCoy and Nicholls were on opposing sides in the Betfred Best Mate Beginners' Chase, and the trainer came out ahead in an exciting finish.
Ruby Walsh was in the plate to make much of the running on Nicholls' Rebel Rebellion (7-2), who had been patchy over hurdles and was back out after almost exactly a year off.
McCoy was claimed for McManus' Bold Henry, a facile winner on his previous start in a hurdle at the Devon track last May, and he moved the 9-4 joint-favourite to the front at the second-last, only for Rebel Rebellion to battle back on the run-in and prevail by two and a quarter lengths.
Tim Vaughan produced an impressive training performance to bring Wings Of Smoke (11-1) back from a gap since the end of January in the "Robert Barclay Seniority Stakes" Handicap Hurdle.
The top-weight seemed to have lost his way and looked to be a second string on jockey bookings and in the betting behind the disappointing Geminus.
However, Michael Murphy was swinging along at the second last and only needed to get busy in the closing stages to get Wings Of Smoke up a length ahead of Swift Chap.
Liam Treadwell and James Payne's Knapp Bridge Boy (25-1) picked off the front-running 2-1 favourite Sophonie and ran out a comfortable winner of the Haldon Handicap Chase.
Kim Bailey's Harry Topper (11-4) rallied to snatch the Betfred "The Bonus King" Beginners' Chase from the even-money Nicholls favourite Rocky Creek while Richard Johnson and Garde La Victoire (7-2) picked up best off a dawdling pace in the Connolly's Red Mills junior bumper.