MISTER Whitaker followed a tried and tested path to the Cheltenham winner’s enclosure when triumphing for Mick Channon’s West Ilsley stables.

The six-year-old gelding was bought by Henrietta Knight for owner Tim Radford from Tim Costello, the same vendor who sold her Best Mate, the winner of three Cheltenham Gold Cups when she trained at West Lockinge.

After Adrian Heskin drove Mister Whitaker home by a length and three-quarters in the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase over two miles and five furlongs, Knight said: “I was so struck by his jumping – he stood out.

“I have always loved this horse. He is such a good jumper and a smashing horse.”

Mister Whitaker is to return to Cheltenham for the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Festival on March 13.

Channon, who completed a 30-1 across-the-card double with Helvetian scoring at Kempton, said of Mister Whitaker: “Hen is thrilled because she bought him and schooled him.

“It’s very rewarding when something comes together like that.”

Meanwhile, Coneygree, from Mark Bradstock’s Letcombe Bassett stables, is on course to run in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury on February 10.

The 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner had previously bypassed the Betbright Trial Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham because of the testing ground.

Bradstock’s wife, Sara, said: “It was always going to be tight after the wind op and especially with the way the ground is, so we decided we’ll wait for Newbury.”

Blewbury trainer Noel Williams ended a spell of more than two months without a winner when Sensulano gained a first career success in a mares’ novices’ hurdle at Warwick under Wayne Hutchinson.

“I needed that,” said Williams.

“It’s not that they’ve not been running well, but it is a while since I’ve had a winner.”

Sparsholt trainer Harry Whittington is enjoying his best season yet, and he unveiled another potentially smart prospect when Anemoi made a winning debut in a Huntingdon National Hunt Flat Race, with Aidan Coleman on board.

On the Flat, King Of Nepal followed up Boxing Day’s Wolverhampton win for Wantage trainer Henry Candy with a nose success in a seven-furlong handicap at Kempton under Fran Berry.

And Island Brave, from Heather Main’s Kingston Lisle stables, made it three wins from his last four starts with an eight-length romp in a mile-and-a-half handicap at Wolverhampton in the hands of PJ McDonald.