A Different Kind is likely to have his sights raised on his next appearance after stretching his winning run to five at Catterick.
Runner-up on his sole start in the Irish point-to-point field, the five-year-old had since completed a Sedgefield hat-trick before beating a subsequent dual winner in Green Book at Haydock last month.
Donald McCain’s charge appeared to face a straightforward task in the EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle in North Yorkshire and those who got involved at cramped odds of 1-5 will have had few concerns.
Always travelling strongly in the hands of Brian Hughes, A Different Kind powered clear between the final two flights and had 11 lengths in hand at the line.
McCain is not one for getting carried away, but the fact he was at Catterick, rather than racing more locally at Bangor, is perhaps indicative of the regard in which this unbeaten youngster is held.
“He’s a lovely, switched off, likeable horse who does what he has to do and no more. Most grounds, different trips – he’s a grand horse,” the Cholmondeley handler said in typically understated fashion.
“Derek O’Connor recommended him to me and from the first day we got him we’ve loved him. He has an honest, straightforward way about him and he jumps like a buck.”
On future plans, McCain added: “We’ll have a look at Musselburgh for the Trials meeting (February 5 and 6). If we’re going there it will be over two miles, or there’s the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon.
“I train for a lot of people that prefer Aintree to Cheltenham and that has to be discussed. We’ll worry about the next step first and go from there.”
Oliver Sherwood claimed what he believes to be his first ever winner at Catterick as Guerlain De Vaux (15-8) came out on top in the Watch Racing TV Now Novices’ Hurdle under Jonathan Burke.
The recent Market Rasen scorer looked booked for second early in the straight, but a final-flight error from Gredin opened the door and Guerlain De Vaux made the most of the opportunity to prevail by a head.
Sherwood said: “I thought Brian Hughes had nicked it coming down the hill, he probably knows Catterick a bit better than Johnny. But he was very brave and very tough.
“I got Argento Luna beaten in a mares’ race at Catterick and it was the best thing she ever did because she went and won the mares’ final at Newbury – if she’d won, she’d have been put up too much!”
The Very Thing caused a huge upset in an incident-packed Millbry Hill Novices’ Handicap Chase.
In a race where four of the nine runners either fell or unseated their rider, Becky Smith kept her cool aboard Micky Hammond’s 66-1 shot – finishing with a flourish to prevail by three lengths.
“I’m delighted he’s won for Derek and Jean (Walpole, owners). He’s been a frustrating horse for all of us,” said Hammond.
“A bit of girl power worked, didn’t it? She did well there, Becky. Having a visor on the first time obviously hasn’t done him any harm.”
Jessiemac (7-2) got up in the final stride to win the racingtv.com Mares’ Handicap Hurdle by a nose for trainer Ian Duncan and 5lb claimer Thomas Willmott, while Dr Richard Newland’s Art Of Diplomacy justified 10-11 favouritism in the Every Race Live On Racing TV Handicap Hurdle.
Anyharminasking (11-8) also obliged for favourite-backers in the concluding Happy 60th Birthday Yuff Handicap Hurdle, trained by Jonjo O’Neill and ridden by his son, Jonjo Jnr.