No playing from Third Act
Third Act will be given the chance to emulate the first major achievement of star stablemate Cue Card after an emphatic victory at Kempton.
Trainer Colin Tizzard won the 2010 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham with the then-unknown 40/1 chance Cue Card, who has since become one of the elite chasers in the country.
Third Act, another King's Theatre gelding owned by Jean Bishop with a similarly enthusiastic racing style, was beaten in two previous outings but powered six lengths clear in the Betdaq Value You Can Bet On Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race.
"We'll go to Cheltenham now," said Tizzard of the 13/8 favourite.
"I don't know what he beat but he was impressive. Joe (Tizzard, jockey) said he had strengthened up so much since his last run in October and he has been brilliant on the gallops."
Une Artiste had to rely more heavily than expected on a huge weight allowance to justify her position as 4/9 favourite for the Betdaq 25 No Lose Mobile Bet Graduation Chase.
It looked a low-profile opportunity not to be missed for trainer Nicky Henderson, whose mare also caused a 40-1 surprise at Cheltenham, in the Fred Winter two years ago.
David Bass settled Une Artiste just behind the leader Shangani in the small field but she began to hang to the left when asked to quicken in the home straight and it was only on the run-in that she managed to pull three lengths away from her dogged opponent.
"She got all the allowances under the sun - weight, sex, and age," said Henderson.
"We took her to Ireland for a valuable race at Thurles last time, where she was beaten a nose, and there's a good programme out there.
"She'll get an entry in the novices' handicap chase at Cheltenham but I'm not sure that's the race for her."
Anthony Bromley, bloodstock adviser to owner Simon Munir, said: "There might be a Graded race in Ireland just after Cheltenham."
The most suitable of those would appear to be the ITBA Fillies Scheme EBF Dawn Run Mares Novice Chase at Limerick on March 16.
Sadly Alan King's Batonnier, who lost any winning chance with a mistake at the third-last, broke down afterwards.
Nick Scholfield fared well in what were unusually taxing conditions for this particular course.
His first mount, the Jeremy Scott-trained Boogie In The Barn (8/1), looked in danger of throwing away a Betdaq 25 No Lose Mobile Bet Novices' Hurdle which he had in full control approaching the final couple of flights.
But once joined by the earlier leader Strollawaynow, the hurdling debutant became more focussed and eventually drew three and a half lengths away.
"He looks like a chaser and I'd have liked to have started hurdling from the start of this season but he has really struggled with his jumping," said Scott. "He'll stay low-key."
He went on to double up aboard Harry's Farewell (7/1), who hardly finished as fresh as paint but was at least less tired than his rivals in the Betdaq No Premium Charge Novices' Handicap Hurdle.
Trainer Polly Gundry is due to give birth in early March and her partner Edward Walker said: "Polly went to Doncaster yesterday and I think she was a bit burnt out.
"Nick said he wasn't jumping well but he took a pull as they went off so hard they were never going to maintain it.
"He'll make a three-mile chaser."
Giles Hawkins was canny enough to steal a decisive lead aboard Chris Down's Loyaute (7/1) in the Betdaq The Sports Betting Exchange Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, with 8/11 favourite Baltimore Rock unable to catch him.
Noel Fehily had to throw the kitchen sink at Triangular (4/1) to prevail over Midnight Appeal in the Betdaq 3% Commission Handicap Chase.
Trainer Harry Fry said: "On his old form he was still well-handicapped and that was a great ride by Noel as he said he hated the ground. I'd say he'll have a bit of a break now."