Politologue put up an awesome round of jumping and dominated his three rivals with an exciting performance in the Grade 2 Mitie Noel Novices’ Chase at Ascot.
Just the four horses lined-up for a two miles, five furlongs race with a rich pedigree.
As the tapes went up Riyal Vacation set off with a narrow lead from Politologue and it was the latter, a striking grey, who out-jumped his rival at the first and moved into a clear lead.
The front two took the next fence in unison, ahead of Rock The Kasbah and Captain Chaos.
Racing down the home straight for the first time, the front three pulled clear of Captain Chaos who made a bad mistake at the fence in front of the stands.
Politologue continued to bowl along in front and pulled further clear over the first fence in the back straight, where Rock The Kasbah moved into second, ahead of Royal Vacation.
At the tenth, Politologue again put in a spectacular jump, although Rock The Kasbah closed as a gap opened up to the remaining two. However, the pursuer did his chances no favours with a bad error at the next fence.
Politologue took the third last ahead of Rock The Kasbah, who tried hard to stick to the leader, but was labouring in the wake of what appeared to be a top class horse.
Into the home straight, Politologue pulled well clear. He took the last fence well an strode home for a most impressive win. Rock the Kasbah stuck to his guns gamely for second, closing late on as the winner idled, and was clear of Captain Chaos and Royal Vacation.
This was a quite brilliant performance by the 5 year old grey, giving Paul Nicholls a treble on the card.
Owner John Hales, who has had some wonderful greys in the past, including Al Ferof, One Man, Neptune Collonges and Unioniste, said: “I said when he won at Haydock that was the finest first round of novice jumping from any that I have ever had, including One Man. This one is hopefully a bit special.”
Nicholls, who was winning the race for a third successive season, added: “Sam said he idled after the back of the last. We always knew he’d be good over fences.
“He was just a big, raw four-year-old last year, but he’s shown us plenty since he’s come back in this season and it was nice to see him do what he did at Haydock first time out.
“There’s no need to be going too far at this stage. Two-mile-four, five or six is about as far as he needs to go, as he’s got plenty of pace.
“It’s unlikely he’ll go for the RSA, but he could go for the two-and-a-half-mile race (JLT).”
The 10-times champion trainer already has one eye on the 2018 Cheltenham Festival for Capitaine following his front-running success in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle.
Pulling out plenty from the sharp end, the four-year-old claimed the Grade Two prize by three and a half lengths.
Nicholls said: “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.
“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.”
Topofthegame could prove well named after getting Nicholls and Twiston-Davies up and running for the afternoon when holding on by a short head in the Winning Post Bookmakers Bristol “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle.
Nicholls said: “He is as big a four-year-old as I’ve had for a while. He is 17 hands plus.
“He won his point-to-point beating one of Dan Skelton’s (No Hassle Hoff) and never came off the bridle.
“He sauntered to the front and just idled after the last. When Alan’s (King) horse came at him he picked up again. He could be smart.”