Captain Conan and Barry Geraghty jump well at Cheltenham on SundayPICTURE: Getty Images
Captain in charge in Racing Post Arkle Trial
Report: Cheltenham, Sunday
Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase (Grade 2) 2m, 4yo+
CAPTAIN CONAN put in a measured and assured round of jumping on his chasing debut under jockey Barry Geraghty to give trainer Nicky Henderson his first winner of the Paddy Power Open meeting.
The 11-10 favourite hardly put a foot wrong for Geraghty and quickly dismissed his closest pursuer Sire De Grugy after jumping the final fence.
Captain Conan was a Grade 1 winner over hurdles on his debut for Henderson and the trainer was happy to pitch him in again at Graded level on his first run over fences and it was easy to see why.
He was sharp and accurate over his fences and tanked past the weakening leader Rebel Rebellion coming to the third-last fence, his ears flicking to and fro as he cruised along.
Now in front, Captain Conan had challengers lining up behind him with Sire De Grugy travelling well and Rebel Rebellion running on under strong pressure from Daryl Jacob.
But the winner had too much class for his rivals and two good leaps at the second last and the last set up victory before he powered up the hill.
Geraghty said: "He makes a great shape over his fences. He was very bold at the last. He's very talented. I didn't want to be in front at three out but he just took me there."
Henderson added: "His schooling has been very good at home. It was a very nice round of clean, accurate jumping. I wasn't worried about the soft ground for this one. I think he's a two miler."
Henderson sent out Sprinter Sacre to claim the Racing Post Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival last season and Paddy Power cut Captain Conan to 7-1 (from 10) to give the trainer a second successive win in the race. Boylesports clipped him to 10-1 (from 12).
Connections of runner-up Sire De Grugy were delighted with the run, and jockey Jamie Moore said: "He's ran well but just wasn't good enough. He launched himself at the first four but jumped well from there."
Colin Tizzard was similarly pleased with Third Intention. He said: "He's finished in the right place. He didn't run quite as keen in the early stages which is unlike him but he still had a chance three out and has run well."