Master Tommytucker secured the biggest success of his career with a fine front-running performance in the Ladbrokes Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton.
The lightly-raced 10-year-old made it three wins from five starts over fences this season by taking his form to new levels with victory in the Grade Two.
All eyes were on Imperial Aura, who was bidding for a second success at the level, but the evens favourite was an early casualty after parting company with David Bass at the second fence.
Jumping well out in front, Master Tommytucker continued to extend his advantage with his two remaining rivals hard at work in behind him entering the home straight.
Despite getting the last all wrong, the 2-1 shot was quickly gathered in by Harry Cobden before crossing the line 12 lengths clear of Clondaw Castle.
Nicholls said: “Apart from the last, he jumped great there. Harry nursed him down the back full of running. How many times do you see horses do that at the last?
“He has got a huge engine and he is definitely better on a track like this rather than Cheltenham. A small field suits him better as well.
“At Haydock he went a gallop in heavy ground – he would gallop all day. The trip is not a problem to him anywhere. I’ve got no doubt there is a Grade One in him.
“I kick myself for running him at Cheltenham (last month) as it was too soon after Haydock, but Harry got off him and said this will be the making of him.”
Although Master Tommytucker holds entries in both the Ryanair Chase and Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, the Ditcheat handler believes he would be better suited by heading to Aintree instead.
Nicholls said: “He is the Ryanair and the Gold Cup. We will have a chat with the owners and I know they will dream to run him in a race like that.
“To me he would be awesome at Aintree in that two-and-a-half-mile race around there. That would be made for him and the last day at Sandown, the two-mile-six race there would suit him well.
“I could definitely see him lining up in next year’s King George. He likes it around here and he has got huge ability.”
As for Imperial Aura’s trainer Kim Bailey, he felt a shadow in front of the fence was the reason behind the favourite’s departure.
Bailey said: “David Bass said there was a great big shadow in front of the fence and that’s his excuse. He said there was a big shadow there and he took his eye off it.
“He will go to Cheltenham now, but for what race is rather difficult to work out. I’d imagine he will go straight there.
“There is only one other race to run him in and that’s the Ascot Chase, but that’s three weeks before Cheltenham which is too soon. The lucky suit is now out of the window!”