Champion chaser Sizing Europe wins Tingle Creek at Sandown
Champion chaser Sizing Europe justified his 11-8 favouritism by comfortably winning the Tingle Creek at Sandown.
The nine-year-old, trained in Ireland by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by Andrew Lynch, was locked in a battle with Kauto Stone when turning for home.
But he produced another couple of huge leaps at the last two fences to seal an eight-length triumph.
West End Rocker easily won the Becher Chase over the Grand National fences at Aintree despite the testing conditions.
Alan King's nine-year-old beat the Paul Nicholls-trained Niche Market by 22 lengths with Ballyvesey third.
Arkle Trophy and Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Sizing Europe was coming back to two miles after being narrowly beaten in testing ground over three miles at Down Royal last month and he looked much more comfortable in the hands of Lynch.
Jumping with the verve that was the highlight of his two notable Cheltenham victories, he flew the Railway Fences and was vying for the lead soon before the turn for home.
Kauto Stone, a half-brother to dual Tingle Creek winner Kauto Star and another coming back in distance, also travelled easily and was the only one able to stick with Sizing Europe when the pace quickened.
But De Bromhead's stable star got the better of the argument coming towards the second last and pulled away to win comfortably.
Lynch said: "They went a good gallop and he got into a nice rhythm. He travelled well and jumped super.
"He's a horse who can run over any trip and he will run his heart out, but two miles is probably his ideal trip."
De Bromhead said: "The plan was always to bring him here for his Christmas run and then take him back to Cheltenham to try to win the Queen Mother again."
Becher Chase winner West End Rocker had been brought down at the sixth fence in the National itself in April.
But he stayed out of trouble this time and jumped accurately throughout, taking the lead at the fence before turning for home and never looking like losing it.
Winning jockey Wayne Hutchinson said: "He was absolutely awesome. He usually takes a bit of time to get into his rhythm but after we crossed the Melling Road, he travelled lovely.
"His jumping took him to the front and you could jump a house on him."
The trial was the first race to be held over the National obstacles since changes were made to the course after two horses died in April's running.
The drops on the landing side of the first fence jumped in the National (17th on the second circuit) and Becher's Brook (sixth and 22nd) had been reduced, and the height of the fourth obstacle (20th, second time around) cut.
On the changes, Hutchinson said: "You could definitely tell the fence that will be the first in the Grand National had been levelled out a bit.
"There's still a big drop on Becher's Brook, but racing over those fences is what it is all about."
Last year's Becher Chase winner Hello Bud unseated rider Sam Twiston-Davies at the Canal Turn when going well in the lead.