Captain Teague made a successful debut over obstacles when galloping on well to land the Grade Two Unibet Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow.
Last season’s Champion Bumper third was not always fluent in the jumping department but got it right when it mattered most with fine leaps at the final two flights.
That allowed Harry Cobden to take control of proceedings and the 5-6 favourite kept on strongly to come home nine and a half lengths clear of Resplendent, giving Paul Nicholls a ninth win in the race.
“He hasn’t schooled on grass so first time out over hurdles, he was good – I’m impressed,” Cobden told Sky Sports Racing.
“He had a right old blow between the second last and the last and I probably underestimated how soft the ground was, because they went a good gallop and it was pretty soft.
“When he’s actually got to the front, he’s not done a great deal but it’s a good start and he’s a proper horse – he’s one of our best ones.”
Nicholls added: “There’s so much to come from him mentally and physically and when he learns his job.
“It was a nice race to start with and obviously we were confident of a good run because he’s shown a high level of form, but he can only progress from there.
“We’ll just go quietly, quietly with him; there’s always a good novice hurdle at the Newbury Coral Gold Cup meeting, there’s the Winter Hurdle at Sandown that’s quite a nice race and I’d probably like one run somewhere and then go for the Challow (at Newbury).
“He’s a gorgeous horse and it’s all about learning in these novice hurdles and he can only go one way.”
Captain Teague was cut to as short as 8-1 with Coral for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and is 12-1 with Betfair and Paddy Power for the same contest.
There was late drama in the opening Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase when well-backed 9-4 favourite Good Boy Bobby rallied to overhaul Aye Right in the closing stages.
Aye Right had looked all over the winner when powering clear between the final two fences but the leader faltered after the last and that inspired Sam Twiston-Davies to rejuvenate his mount and secure a 1,400th British success.
Twiston-Davies said: “I thought we got racing a hellish long way out and while we might improve for the run, Aye Right has got tired late on.
“Thankfully, my lad’s got a great constitution, he’s a lot better handicapped than he was going into last season and hopefully he’s now a perfect type for these veteran races. The final at Sandown will suit him.”
Donnacha (11-2) benefitted from a bold ride by David Noonan when holding off the late challenge of Artistic Endeavour in the Chepstow Plant International Novices’ Hurdle.
“It’s a long way up that straight to be out on your own but I just tried to use his experience,” said the jockey. “Every run, he’s been getting better and I’d like to think he’s still on an upward curve.”
Kim Bailey’s Chianti Classico made light of worsening weather and ground conditions when jumping superbly up the home straight for a smooth success in the Tom Malone Bloodstock Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.
Jockey David Bass said of the 5-2 joint-favourite: “He’s a smashing horse. The most important thing today was to get him relaxed, because he can be enthusiastic and jump big and waste a lot of energy.
“He has been more relaxed at home this year but we just had to make sure he switched off and didn’t launch himself at fences. He was a bit novicey at the first two but after that he was very good.”
Alfie’s Princess (7-2) avoided getting any mud kicked in her face by making all to claim the Chepstow Construction Equipment EBF Mares’ National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle in convincing fashion under Twiston-Davies for Sam Thomas.