BARRY GERAGHTY helped himself to a short-priced treble at Ascot where Nicky Henderson's big novice chase hope Simonsig proved the highlight.
Already one of the marquee names in a Henderson stable overflowing with stars, the powerful grey is favourite for next year's Arkle, although this outing will have taught him little.
It soon became a matter of Simonsig against the fences, as three of his four rivals in the Grade Two contest departed at the first two obstacles entering the final circuit, and Sulpius was soon struggling to keep pace.
This was Simonsig's first outing since Aintree in April, and last season's Cheltenham novice hurdle winner was visibly straining at the leash, so Geraghty let him loose before coasting some 49 lengths clear.
"I suppose we haven't learned much, but we know he can do this now," said Henderson of the 2/9 favourite.
Geraghty added: "That was very much mission accomplished. I wasn't bothered he was a little bit keen, that's what you want with a good horse."
Perhaps a horse to tread the same sort of future path is Puffin Billy, which is very much the apple of trainer Oliver Sherwood's eye.
Geraghty deputised for the suspended Leighton Aspell in the novices' hurdle and the step up to graded level was still not enough to take the 4/9 favourite off the bridle for the first time in four starts.
"I don't want him to have too many races on heavy ground," said Sherwood. "He'll have entries in both the two-mile (Supreme) and two-and-a-half (Neptune) at Cheltenham and it will depend on the ground."
Geraghty scored his hat-trick as Captain Cutter thwarted favourite King's Palace in the bumper, while Tony McCoy landed the novices' handicap chase with Eastlake.