Trainer Dan Skelton and brother, jockey Harry, landed a quick-fire double to open the action at Aintree Racecourse.
Having won the opener with the impressive hurdling debutant Hear No Evil (5-2), Captain Chaos (7-2) brought up the double with an excellent victory in the Bet £10 Get £20 at 188Bet Novices’ Chase at the home of the Randox Health Grand National.
Having failed to win in four previous starts over fences, the application of blinkers and the softer ground on Merseyside helped Captain Chaos to break his duck in fine style coming home 19 lengths clear of Coastal Tiep in the four-runner three-mile Novices’ contest.
The five-year-old fell in last season’s Grade Two Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby in February, and was last of six at Chepstow on his return. But he put those previous efforts behind with a fine display of jumping at Aintree.
The Towton in the new year is likely to be main aim again.
Skelton, whose Olympic showjumping gold medal-winning father Nick was also watching on at Aintree, said: “He is a horse that has always promised a lot. He spent his novice hurdling last year sort of rated around 140 and taking on good horses. It has just taken a bit of time to come together. And a pair of blinkers has just concentrated him and a bit slower ground (helped him).
“I said to (owners) Mike and Eileen (Newbould) that something just didn’t go right at Chepstow. We put a line through it and he’s come good.
“I thought he would be competitive in last year’s Towton and he fell. He actually chipped a bone in his neck so maybe at Chepstow he just needed a clear round for confidence. This is a good stepping stone to something better now.
“What I do with him next, I’m not sure. I wouldn’t just go to Newbury at the end of the month. I would wait and find a bit softer ground. I would imagine in February we would be heading back to the Towton.”
While we are used to seeing the dark blue colours of Coolmore being carried to glory on the Flat, Hear No Evil (5-2) landed a rare winner over jumps at Aintree for John Magnier in the 188Bet EBF Stallions ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle.
On his hurdling debut, the Skelton-trained five-year-old ran out an impressive five-length winner of the opening 2m4f hurdle under the trainer’s brother Harry.
He looks a good prospect and is sure to go on from this debut success.
He was always travelling well and jumped to the front going over the final flight. He scored comfortably from Fergal O’Brien’s Imperial Eloquence (14-1). Spider’s Bite (25-1) was a further two and a half lengths further back in third, with the 9-4 favourite Delire D’Estruval a further neck back in fourth.
Trainer Skelton said: “He is a lovely horse and you can see he is a big, strong beast. He has always been a horse that we have liked at home. And the size that he is, he is always going to need time. His jumping is good and is attitude is good and I think he can take a step forward from here. It is lovely to get one on the board for him and set him up for a nice jumps career.
“You can see the size of him, he is only going to be better next year. I wouldn’t say we would take the route of least resistance, we will get a bit adventurous, because he is quite good. Winning at Aintree first time up you have got to be at a decent level.
“But at the same time we would be very mindful that he will improve.”