Balthazar King won the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase under Richard Johnson on day one at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday.
Always prominent, Johnson tracked Wedger Pardy who took them along around the twists and turns of the cross country track.
Last year’s winner Sizing Australia was always just behind the pair and had a chance, but it was another former winner, A New Story, who gave the winner most to do.
The 14-year-old flashed home but couldn’t quite reel in Balthazar King who won by a head in course-record time.
The favourite Scotsirish was pulled up early on and it proved to be a fatal injury, while old-favourite Garde Champetre was also euthanised.
Johnson said: “He seems to have really taken to the fences well. He ran well the last day until we got taken out.
“One thing he does is stay and he battled all the way to the winning post, so it’s very good.
“He’s a front-runner and I kept thinking we’d take it up in a minute. We went a good gallop all the way and he does stay very well which has helped him in the end.
“After last time I wondered if I should ride in it but this was great.”
Hobbs said: “If he had won last time then he would have gone up in the handicap and might not have won today.
“He had a very bad fall at the course. He broke a bone in his cheek, so we knew he would have to have some time off.
“He jumped very well and he tries hard. It’s a different race but they all count.”