Coeur De Lion booked his ticket to the Cheltenham Festival by winning the feature race on the all-weather at Southwell.
Alan King’s dual purpose performer finished seventh in the Triumph Hurdle last March and is likely to try his luck in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle this time around.
Second to stablemate Who Dares Wins in the Cesarewitch Trial at Newmarket, he has cut little ice in two runs over timber in decent company this season.
Ridden by Hollie Doyle in the Betway Handicap, he made good ground from the rear to beat the game Mixboy by a length as the 13-8 favourite.
“He didn’t look as if he enjoyed the kickback, but he won well,” said King.
“We just wanted to give him a run before Cheltenham. The plan would be to go for the Martin Pipe and I might give him an entry in the Coral Cup, but I don’t think he’ll get in that.
“It was ideal today. Basically he’s better handicapped on the Flat and it was a nice prize today.
“We just thought it was a better prep than trying to run him over hurdles as at the minute he’s not handicapped to win over hurdles.
“I just thought we’d go down this route and hopefully win one on the way to Cheltenham and give the owners a bit of fun.”
Volatile (11-8 favourite) was another winner for Jamie Osborne, Dougie Costello and owners Melbourne 10 Racing in the Betway Novice Stakes, following up a win at Chelmsford.
Star Ascending (11-4) and Mister Music (9-2) were other winning favourites while Hughie Morrison’s 11-year-old Cousin Khee (5-1) provided youngster Theodore Ladd with a welcome winner.