Sprinter Sacre delivered for favourite backers when he cruised to victory in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham.
One of the bankers of the entire meeting, the 8/11 chance was handed the race on a plate when chief market rival Al Ferof blundered his chance away four fences from the finish.
Sprinter Sacre, jumping with the fluency that has made him such a fine prospect for the future, stormed into a clear lead and looked like turning the race into a procession.
But long-time leader Cue Card (13/2) rallied bravely to be just three lengths down at the final fence, but a mighty leap sealed it and jockey Barry Geraghty had plenty up his sleeve to pull away again by seven lengths at the line, with 22 lengths back to Menorah in third.
“He’s unbelievable, he has so much pace and scope – I’m not sure I’ve had the privilege to ride anything like that,” said Geraghty.
“As long as he stays in one piece, that’s the main thing.
“Moscow Flyer would always doss and might just beat an average horse a couple of lengths.
“The way he jumped the third-last he gives you some feel.
“He knew what he was doing at the third-last. If anything he was guilty of over-jumping it.”
Trainer Nicky Henderson said: “We always hoped he might be a bit special.
“He was coming here to show off and he’s done it. That’s the way he loves to do it. He is very flashy and very showy.
“That jumping was quite unreal. He was always travelling and he’s got up the hill.
“He’s got so much speed and scope, he’s just a dreadful show-off. That was really worth watching today. There was no point in Barry stopping him, they gave him a good lead and went a nice pace.
“When he’s jumping like that it’s a joy. He looked a proper horse and he was just showing off.”
Sprinter Sacre was presenting Henderson his 40th Cheltenham Festival win, which means he has now equalled the record of Fulke Walwyn.
Henderson added: “It’s nice to get it out of the way on the first day. This was a horse we hoped might do it and he could really be special.
“You wait for something to come out of the woodwork and be a real champion and it just might be him.”
Cue Card’s trainer, Colin Tizzard, said: “I think we’re all in awe of the front one really. Joe (Tizzard) said he got in his tail nearly on the bend, but then he went away again.
“It was a brilliant run by Cue Card, but we’re up against it with that other one for sure. I liked the way when he got in tight he was good today, he was accurate and he stayed on.
“We’ll have to step up in trip or we’re going to run into this chap all the time. I’m sure we could go up in trip.
“Sometimes you get disappointed when you get beat, but you can’t be disappointed with that. It was an awesome performance from the winner.”