Nicky Henderson trains Captain Conan
©Healy Racing Photos
Captain Conan (11-10 fav) lived up to his billing in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday.
The excitement had been building ahead of the chasing debut of the well built five year old who had landed the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle on his British debut back in January.
The Nicky Henderson trained winner didn't disappoint as he produced an exemplary display in the two mile contest registered as the November Novices' Chase.
The pace was only steady and the field were still tightly grouped as Barry Geraghty took up the running approaching the third last where a mistake from His Excellency - who had raced a little keenly early - put paid to his chances.
The long-time leader Rebel Rebellion tried to rally having become outpaced while Sire De Grugy moved ominously well in Geraghty's slipstream.
Both horses jumped the last two obstacles well but Captain Conan proved the stronger on the climb to the line, winning by two lengths with Third Intention back in third.
Henderson said: "It's hard work in this ground, but I wouldn't be too worried about him in it.
"I think he's a two-miler - he's got a lot of speed. It was a very pleasing start and I'm delighted."
Henderson added: "I don't think he touched a twig but I would have been disappointed if he had.
"I looked after him last season and we didn't take him to Cheltenham (in March) because this is what we had been waiting for.
"We've got Simonsig to come and those are the two (Arkle horses)."
Sky Bet cut the winner to 7-1 from 9s for the Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival in March.