Capitaine put up a game performance and kept finding more as he made virtually every yard of the running to land the Grade 2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle (Registered as The Kennel Gate Hurdle) at Ascot.
A field of six went to post for a race which often has a bearing on determining the leading novice hurdlers of the season.
Capitaine went into the early lead as the field reluctantly left the starting point.
Settling down, the grey Capitaine went five lengths clear of Lough Derg Spirit at the second flight, with Keep In Line in third.
Capitaine and Sam Twiston-Davies continued to race a few lengths clear of their rivals, with Lough Derg Spirit and Keep In Line matching strides, following by Captain Forez, Blue Surf and Thomas Campbell, who were all bunched.
The lead was reduced at the third last, although the leader was still travelling well as the sextet began the turn for home.
Capitaine found a little more racing to the second last with Keep In Line the pursuer and then Captain Forez.
Racing to the last though, Capitaine again found more and this scopey gelding lengthened well on the flat for a most impressive victory with Captain Forez second and then Keep In Line.
Capitaine, still just a four year old, was shouldering top weight here against some smart older rivals. His performance suggested that he might in time get further. He was delivering a double for trainer and jockey on the card.
Winning trainer Paul Nicholls said: “I always thought he was a smart horse and he won his bumper well last year and then hosed up at Wincanton.
“I got the tactics wrong at Haydock, it was heavy ground and he was a bit keen. I told Harry Cobden to drop him in that day and he couldn’t pick up the winner on that ground, but he learnt a lot.
“I told Sam if there was no pace in the race to let him bowl along and try and dictate from the front because all he does is stay.
“If he’d not have run at Haydock he’d have been half the price today. I was deliberating that day whether to the run him, but it has not been lost on him.
“He has a hood on, just to shut the noise out and keep the lid on him. As he matures he’ll settle better. Riding him in front was ideal.”
Asked about a tilt at the Cheltenham Festival curtain-raiser, which he has won twice before with Noland (2006) and Al Ferof (2011), the Champion Trainer said: ” If he keeps going, why not?
“He’s no different to Al Ferof or Noland, he’s got plenty of speed and I can see him in the Arkle next season.”