The usual suspects dominated at Cheltenham yesterday, when David Pipe and Paul Nicholls landed a double apiece on the opening day of a meeting they always target as the first major skirmish of the campaign. The success of Uncle Junior for Willie Mullins meanwhile testified that the most powerful stable in Ireland is also stirring from his summer repose.
The star turn was Dynaste, who continues in the hoofprints of Grands Crus, favourite for the big race today. Another grey trained by Pipe, Dynaste had likewise proved his class against Big Buck's over hurdles, and has now produced an impressive chasing debut of his own in the Steel Plate and Sections Novice Chase. He jumped well before being produced at the last and pushed out to beat Fingal Bay four and a half lengths. Coral go 6-1 from 14-1 for the RSA Chase.
Of course, Grands Crus was ultimately sent off hot favourite for that race, only to run below par. There is still a long way to go, but Pipe indicated Dynaste may continue along the path taken by his stablemate last season, to Newbury and Kempton. "We were getting weight off Fingal Bay, who might be more of a three-miler," Pipe cautioned. "But he won a bit cosily and I'm sure he'll improve."