Nube Negra inflicted an emphatic defeat on Altior in the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.
Nicky Henderson’s dual Champion Chase victor Altior, who was a late absentee from the Tingle Creek earlier in the season, ran in snatches throughout for Nico de Boinville, but ultimately had no answer to Dan Skelton’s impressive winner.
On the bridle throughout, Harry Skelton was at pains not to hit the front too soon on Nube Negra, who had not been seen since finishing second in the Kingmaker at Warwick in February.
Altior showed guts to keep in contention in the home straight and it briefly looked as if his famous turbo was going to kick in, but Nube Negra had plenty in reserve and was heavily eased, crossing the line three and a half lengths to the good.
The 20-1 winner was continuing a golden spell for the Skeltons, who have won Grade Ones with Allmankind and Shan Blue this season.
With Willie Mullins’ Chacun Pour Soi impressing at Leopardstown, he is now 11-8 favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Altior out to 12-1 with Betfair. Nube Negra is also a 12-1 chance.
Harry Skelton told ITV Racing: “He was brilliant, he travelled and jumped with a lot of zest which is what he’s always been good at.
“I was always in a canter to be honest, on ground that was probably slow enough for him.
“We wanted to run him at Aintree last season but didn’t get the chance, but all that time that he’s had has probably done him the world of good. He’s still only six and was very impressive today.
“We’ve always thought a lot of him. He used to travel to two out and not finish his race as he was weak, but he strengthened up and it’s great for his owner Terry Spraggett.”
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