Champion trainer Paul Nicholls declared himself delighted with his stable star Big Buck's after the four times Ladbrookes World Hurdle winner delighted crowds in Exeter before yesterday's racing.
The nine-year-old took part in the course work-out under Ruby Walsh and matched strides with stablemate Cedre Bleu to get him properly fit for his first race of the new season with the ultimate aim surely a fifth crack at the Cheltenham Festival's staying hurdle showpiece in March.
Unbeaten in 17 runs, the more immediate target is as yet undecided with the possibility he may start the season in a handicap hurdle at Haydock on Betfair Chase day instead of his usual Newbury bow.
"It's just what he wanted, a lob round there for two miles," Nicholls said after the Exeter workout. "It's a day out. He'll lose a few kilos and it'll tighten him up a bit.
"We haven't done that much with him, but he looks fantastic. All the horses look brilliant at the moment, they seem to be that bit better, for some reason, than last year."
As for the racing itself, things didn't go quite so smoothly for Nicholls and his Ditcheat team with his odds on favourite Provo being beaten in the first, a novice hurdle that was won by AP McCoy on-board Cloudy Copper.
Walsh and Nicholls teamed up again on promising six–year-old Keppols Hill, who looked set for a maiden chase victory after also setting off as favourite, until unseating Walsh at the last fence when seemingly pulling clear.
Elsewhere the in-form stables of Milborne Port based Colin Tizzard and Venetia Williams scored notable further successes with Milarrow and Stars Du Granits respectively.
The next meeting at Exeter will be South West Salute Day on Sunday, November 25 when all serving military personnel will receive half price tickets.