The eight-year-old, who broke his off-foreleg at Aintree 10 months ago and still only has 70 per cent mobility in his ankle, was applauded into the parade ring, cheered as he led his three rivals past the stands on the first circuit, and mobbed when he returned with his trainer Tom Foley.
In the race, with Danoli jumping superbly, Tommy Treacy quickened what had been a slow early pace and, although Tiananmen Square closed the gap slightly off the home turn, it was only on sufferance as the 2-5 favourite quickened again and won easing down.
Danoli's only mistake came when he clipped the top of the final flight; bookmaker reaction was to clip his Champion Hurdle price, with Hills' quote of 5-1 second favourite to Alderbrook the best odds available. Ladbrokes go 7-2.
Closer to home, the Cheltenham pointers came in the novice hurdling division, with both Go-Informal and Simply Dashing bound for the Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle after victories at Newcastle and Warwick respectively. Simply Dashing, trained by Tim Easterby, was particularly impressive, shooting clear off the final bend to beat Jack Tanner ten lengths.
Two who are likely to miss the Festival are Jet Rules, impressive winner of the Persian War Premier Novices' Hurdle at Chepstow, and The Grey Monk, who barely came out of an exercise canter to notch a five-timer in the Newcastle Novices' Chase.
The latter's trainer, Gordon Richards, is not a great fan of the Sun Alliance Chase, in which his Gold Cup favourite One Man was eclipsed last year. He reported One Man in tremendous form after a strong piece of work yesterday morning and, with bad weather forecast, may have him out on the gallops again this morning.
Newcastle's Eider Handicap Chase over four miles and a furlong attracted a clutch of Grand National entries, but all were put in their place by gallant 9-1 shot Killeshin, winner of the Aintree Foxhunters over the National fences two years ago but not qualified for this year's big one. Sean Curran was punching and kicking John Manners' 10-year-old for most of the way and did well to keep him in contention, but in the end won comfortably from fast-finishing Silver Stick.