Tingle Creek Chase: Altior maintains 100% record over jumps
Nicky Henderson's all-conquering Altior made it 15 wins from 15 runs over jumps after a thrilling Grade One Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
The one mile seven-and-a-half furlong race began in torrential rain, and 2016 winner Un De Sceaux, ridden by Ruby Walsh, set the pace on heavy ground.
In his first race since April at the same venue, eight-year-old Altior took the lead approaching the final fence.
The 8-13 favourite surged up the hill to win by four lengths.
Altior made two slight errors, with too big a jump at the open ditch early on and going slightly tight at the final fence, which allowed Walsh to gain a length. But his phenomenal surge for the line ensured there was no chance for the opposition.
"He is a magnificent animal and aren't we lucky to have him," jockey Nico de Boinville said.
"He gave me a bit of a fright at the open ditch, somehow he always does something there, but I think we'll just put it down to being first time up this season and being fresh and well."
Asked about the deluge that descended upon the Surrey course at the start of the race, he said: "We were more concerned about getting cold. Ruby made it an out-and-out test in that ground and it set up a proper race.
"He's just so relaxed and you just have to wind him up a bit and then he goes. That gallop was championship pace - on heavy ground."
One For Arthur unseats rider on return
Earlier at Sandown in the Henry VIII Novices Chase, the Paul Nicholls-trained Dynamite Dollars avenged defeat against Lalor last month.
Lalor, trained by Kayley Woollacott, had won by seven lengths on his chasing debut at Cheltenham last month but never looked completely happy on much softer ground and going right-handed, finishing a distant third.
Jumping the last, it looked as if Henry de Bromhead's Ornua may hold on, but jockey Harry Cobden persevered on 9-2 shot Dynamite Dollars and he stayed on strongly up the hill to win by a length and three-quarters.
Meanwhile at Aintree, Robert Walford's 10-1 chance Walk in the Mill won the Becher Handicap Chase by four and a half lengths from Vieux Lion Rouge, with last year's winner Blaklion, the nine-year-old 9-2 favourite, back in 11th.
In the Many Clouds Chase, 2017 Grand National winner One For Arthur, in his first run since that famous victory at the same venue 609 days ago, unseated jockey Tom Scudamore at the third fence as Brian Ellison's Definitely Red, ridden by Danny Cook, went on to beat Double Shuffle by four and a half lengths.
The Betway Grand Sefton Handicap Chase was won by Warriors Tale, who pulled up at this year's Grand National and was fourth, also at Aintree, over two miles and four furlongs last month.
The Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old shrugged off a stopping weight of 11st 12lb to win by a length and a half from long-time leader Brandon Hill.
Cornelius Lysaght, BBC horse racing correspondent:
For a stride or two at a couple of times during the race, it was possible to wonder if Altior's increasingly brilliant unbeaten record over obstacles might soon end.
The horse didn't always necessarily look his usual majestic self on the severely rain-softened going. Of course, Un De Sceaux is a bit of a legend in his own right - a couple of his jumps gave me goose bumps - and he didn't go down without a fight.
But it was great stuff to see Altior sweep clear soon after the last. In drier conditions at Cheltenham, the 'Ferrari-horse' should purr through the gears.