Australian jumper Big Blue has failed to finish the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton with the race won by Epatante.
Trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace have taken the Galleywood Hurdle winner to England hoping to qualify him for the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Big Blue was in touch early but made a mistake at the fifth obstacle and was losing ground when he was pulled up with two jumps to go in Thursday’s race.
The winner made no mistakes under Barry Geraghty and bookmakers reacted swiftly to her impressive display to make her the 7-2 favourite for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Epatantes gave trainer Nicky Henderson a ninth victory in the race, beating Silver Streak by five lengths.
“We’ve come straight from the Gerry Feilden at Newbury, which was a handicap. I wanted to go to Ascot last weekend, but (owner) JP McManus wanted to come here and he was absolutely dead right,” Henderson said.
“Going into Cheltenham last season I thought she was our best chance in the mares’ novice, but she didn’t run her race. She had done everything right up until then and has done everything right since.
“She is lovely and has a great temperament with a lovely attitude and she is a great jumper. I saw Barry for 30 seconds after the race and I said, ‘what next?’. He said ‘win the Champion Hurdle’, so I suppose that is what I better do!”