Alex Hales was thrilled to see stable star For Pleasure open his account over fences with a dominant front-running display at Plumpton.
The six-year-old won four times over hurdles last year – including a Grade Two triumph at Cheltenham – before going on to finish third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival.
The Excelebration gelding fell on his chasing debut and seasonal reappearance at Warwick, but put in a clear round to place third behind subsequent Grade One winner Edwardstone at the same track last month.
With Kid Commando coming to grief at the fifth obstacle, the BetGoodwin Novices’ Chase was a straight shootout between 5-2 chance For Pleasure and even-money favourite Nassalam.
It was a clear a long way from home that the market leader was struggling to keep up with For Pleasure, who passed the post with 37 lengths in hand under Harry Bannister.
Hales said: “I’m delighted – it was a wonderful performance. I thought he was electric and the track really played to his strengths.
“He’s always been good (jumping-wise) from the first day we schooled him over fences. He’s learnt plenty from Warwick and I thought he was very clever with his front feet and knew what to do today.”
The two-mile-one-furlong contest is one of four novice chases run at Plumpton this year which offers the winner a £50,000 bonus if they are able to follow up at the Cheltenham Festival.
For Pleasure has the option of running in either to the Arkle or the Grand Annual at Prestbury Park in March, with a decision on which race he will contest likely to be made much nearer the time.
“He really ought to go to Aintree, but it’s a big bonus, so it will take some thinking about,” Hales added.
“There’s plenty of water to go under the bridge before then. I’m not sure where we’ll go next as we are slightly hindered by the fact he has to go left-handed.
“He’s not easy to place until the spring because of that really. The two obvious races are the Kingmaker at Warwick and you’ve got the Grade Two at Doncaster (Lightning Novices’ Chase).”