Does He Know defied a penalty and some sloppy jumping to land the Grade Two Bateaux London Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot for David Bass and Kim Bailey.
The seven-year-old gelding made two jumping blunders down the back straight but had the class to accelerate clear of his rivals in the testing ground, with Doyen Breed finishing 14 lengths back in second and early pacemaker Annual Invictus in third.
Corach Rambler was sent off favourite after being well-backed throughout the afternoon but fell down the back straight after travelling well in behind for Derek Fox.
Does He Know was cut into 8/1 from 20/1 for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after victory, but could also line up in the Ultima Handicap Chase if entered.
After the race, jockey David Bass said: “He’s got a touch of class and I think that shone through at the end.
“I was happy early but he’s a funny horse – unless he’s on a good stride he can just pitch in.
“I thought maybe he’d lost his confidence a bit but then up the hill, we went on a stride and he started jumping well again.
“He’s a quirky one but a good one so we’ll let him off. I’d rather they were straightforward!”
Cheltenham Festival hope Skytastic remains unbeaten after landing the opening Join Kim Bailey Racing Novices’ Hurdle for the Sam Thomas team, outbattling Scarface for Colin Tizzard in a stirring finish despite the tough conditions.
Brendan Powell looked to be getting the better of the favourite on Scarface coming into the straight, but in-form jockey Charlie Deutsch managed to galvanise his mount in the final half-furlong to get up a neck.
Skytastic remained 20/1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle but was cut into 20/1 for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, whilst Scarface remained 100/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Jockey Charlie Deutsch said after the opening race success: “I knew something was coming and I felt something on my left and my right but I wasn’t sure where they were really.
“Actually, they’ve come to me and it’s helped me on the run-in and he’s dug it out well really.
“He’s the sort of horse who just gets the job done really.”
Sam Thomas was cool on his Festival prospects after the race, suggesting that his horse is more likely to show up at Aintree in April.