Does He Know could bid to give trainer Kim Bailey his first Grade One winner in 25 years after continuing his flying start to the season with victory in the feature prize at Cheltenham on Friday.
The five-year-old took another step forward to claim the Grade Two Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle by three lengths under David Bass.
An outing in next month’s Challow Hurdle at Newbury is now under consideration for Does He Know, according to Bailey – whose last top-level triumph came with Master Oats in the 1995 Gold Cup.
Bailey said of the 11-8 shot: “David said afterwards he thought it was a better performance than last time.
“He is a bit buzzy and a bit of an old fruitcake walking around the paddock and it is probably quite a good thing we haven’t got big crowds here at the moment.
“He was very settled in the race and buzzy when he came back in again. He is an extraordinary horse. He is a very athletic and likeable horse.
“We will possibly aim at something like the Challow Hurdle later on.”
Dan Skelton will continue to adopt a patient approach with Protektorat, who maintained his unbeaten record over fences when running out a 17-length winner of the SSS Super Alloys Supports Racing Welfare Novices’ Chase.
The Alcester handler said of the 6-5 scorer: “You can’t take anything away from his jumping and performance on the day. He has proven himself around Cheltenham now which is a big test for any horse.
“We have taken our time with him so far and it would be foolish to rip the protective layer off now.”
Equally delighted with the performance of Protektorat, who was introduced at 16-1 for the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Festival in March with Coral and 25-1 for the same race by Betfair, was part-owner John Hales.
“That was class,” said Hales.
“We can look forward to bigger things one day, but not too soon. He has all the stamina in the world – and speed – and if you have got those two you can’t get better than that.”
Paul Nicholls plans to step Magic Saint (100-30) back up in class after laying his Cheltenham ghost to rest at the fourth attempt in the Mucking Brilliant Paddy Power Handicap Chase.
The Ditcheat handler said: “That was just the job. I’d imagine he will have to step up in grade now.
“Two miles obviously suits him well and he puts winning a race around Cheltenham to bed.
“We could look at something like the Desert Orchid at Kempton, but we haven’t really got a set plan.”
There was a sting in the tail for winning jockey Bryan Carver who picked up a two-day whip ban.
Paul O’Brien celebrated his first Cheltenham winner aboard the Charlie Longsdon-trained Castle Robin (13-2), who prevailed by a length and a half in the Markel Insurance Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
Longsdon said: “Paul said he was almost crying. He deserved it. He rides a lot of our horses. He is a good lad who puts the hours in to get results like today.
“After he won at Carlisle we hoped 119 was quite a generous mark as we thought he was a better horse than that.
“He is only a novice still and he has a long way to go before we have some smart targets.”