Kings Palace is ante-post favourite for the Albert Bartlett Novices' HurdlePICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Kings Palace 6-1 for festival after easy win
Report: Cheltenham, Saturday
Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Registered as the Bristol Novices' Hurdle) (Grade 2) 4yo+, 3m
KINGS PALACE won by a wide margin for the second race in a row, maintaining his unbeaten record this season with a mightily impressive round of hurdling.
The David Pipe-trained winner came into the race with some tremendous form already in the book, namely a crushing 18-length win over subsequent Grade 2 winner Creepy and Friday's Grade 3 chase winner Monbeg Dude, and he proved that was no fluke with a majestic performance around Prestbury Park that sent bookmakers running for cover.
Paddy Power cut Kings Palace to 6-1 favourite (from 12) for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, while William Hill and BetVictor went 5-1 (from 14 and 12) for the same race.
Jumping fluently at the front under Tom Scudamore, Kings Palace had just 25-1 shot Masters Hill for company by the time he straightened up for home, and went 14 lengths clear of that rival as he came home full of running.
Paul Nicholls' Saint Roque was battling for third when he stumbled on landing at the final hurdle and came down.
Pipe said of the winner: "He has a great cruising speed. He is best when you sit on him and let him do what he wants at his hurdles. Tom's done that and given him a great ride.
"He was always being pestered by the second horse but always had enough in reserve. He doesn't have to make it but he enjoys racing prominently. He is getting stronger all the time. You would imagine he will go for the Albert Bartlett."
Also on Saturday:
Osborne House Relkeel Hurdle (Grade 2) 4yo+, 2m4½f
MORE OF THAT retained his unbeaten record under a masterful Tony McCoy.
Daryl Jacob on Salubrious went seven or eight lengths clear in the countryside in a bid to tame his rivals, but as the race approached the business end McCoy edged closer and closer on More Of That.
The two went nose-to-nose on the run-in but while Jacob was a flurry of activity McCoy simply rode out his mount, never resorting to the whip, and gradually pulled away from his rival to secure a two-and-a-quarter-length win.
The winning trainer Jonjo O'Neill, celebrating his century for the season, said: "That's a good way to get the 100.
"We've just been trying to get experience into the horse more than anything and as I thought this wouldn't have a big field and as it's just down the road it looked a nice option.
"He'll make a lovely chaser and I hadn't even thought about the World Hurdle until now. We won't rush him but the Cleeve could be a good plan next."
Betfred are biggest at 14-1 about the winner for the World Hurdle, while sponsors Ladbrokes offer just 8-1.
Highly-rated French raider Gemix struggled and was well adrift by the last half mile and his trainer said he would not be back.
Nicolas Bertran de Balanda said: "It was obviously disappointing. He pulled early in the race and the course is very different to Auteuil, as was the pace of the race.
"We have tried but we won't come back. We'll stay at Auteuil."