Jacob and Obeaux in Challow tune
Messire Des Obeaux ran out a taking winner of the Grade One Betfred Challow Novices' Hurdle at Newbury.
Daryl Jacob riding Messire Des Obeaux (R) clear the last to win the Betfred Challow Novices' Hurdle at Newbury
Alan King's Sandown Grade Two winner took the step up in class in his stride with a two-length victory under Daryl Jacob, who had last tasted Challow success aboard Reve De Sivola in 2009.
The 100/30 winner overcame a mistake at the final flight of hurdles to win well from Gordon Elliott's challenger Balthazar D'Allier (9/2), with Ami Desbois staying on to fill out the places at 14/1, just ahead of Elegant Escape.
The race had been run at a furious pace from the start with Major Mac and Adrian Heskin thrilling his long-odds supporters for a long way before giving way in the home straight.
There was disappointment, however, for favourite-backers as the heavily supported Aintree maiden scorer Robin Roe took a crashing fall at the first hurdle in the straight, taking off a stride soon and giving Harry Skelton no chance of rescuing the situation.
Winning trainer King told Racing UK: "He travelled really well. That was probably the first time he's had to battle so he should have learnt a great deal from it. I was hopefuly he'd run well but I wasn't confident he'd win so I'm delighted.
"In terms of staying novice hurdlers he's up there with the best we've got."
Messire Des Obeaux was cut to 10/1 from 16/1 by Sky Bet for the Neptune Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and 12/1 from 20s for the three-mile Albert Bartlett after his Newbury victory and representative Michael Shinners: "There's loads to like about this horse, who seems to be getting better and better with experience.
"He travels and clearly stays well so the King team have a lot to look forward to and the difficulty for bookmakers and punters alike is trying to pinpoint at this stage which race he may end up contesting at the Festival."
Asked about a likely Cheltenham Festival target, King politely but firmly said he'd "like to enjoy today first" which seemed fair enough. After all, this was a second Grade One victory of the season and, more remarkably, a win which took him past last season's tally of 68 victories and firmly on track for his best season since an impressive 138 winners in 2008/9.
King has always preferred to look to the future rather than dwell too much on the past and has never made any secret of the hopes he holds for this horse as a potential steeplechaser.
"It will be up to the owners, Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, and their racing manager Anthony Bromley, who is never short of an opinion, but I imagine the plan will be to have another run before Cheltenham and then we will have a clearer idea as to when he might go over fences," he said.
"However good he proves to be over hurdles, however, I think he could be better as a chaser."