Trainer Evan Williams declared himself “disappointed but not downhearted” after Cappa Bleu finished last of the three finishers on his first start of the season at Aintree yesterday.
The Cheltenham Foxhunter winner has moved to the Welsh trainer after a fine spell point-to-pointing with Sheila Crow and the Halloween At Matalan Novices' Chase was expected to be an aperitif before an attempt at next month's Hennessy Gold Cup.
But while the famous Newbury handicap could still be on the agenda, he lacked the speed over two and a half miles as he finished over 20 lengths behind Door Boy (9-2) and Little Josh.
Williams said of the 5-4 favourite: “He's three-and-a-quarter-mile horse really and you have to say he has been beaten by two very good horses.
“To be honest, we found out quick enough where we were today and he's had a big blow turning in.
“I'm disappointed but not downhearted and we'll get him back first before making plans.
“He might be interesting for the Hennessy off 10st 3lb or 4lb, so we'll see. He can't run in another novice chase but there's certainly a little prize in him.”
It should not detract from Door Boy's achievement, as he was lucky to stay on his feet after a mistake at the fourth last. Howard Johnson's charge repelled Little Josh by four lengths.
Owner Graham Wylie said: “He just raced at the one fence, he was novicey, but apart from that he jumped great. He might have won a bit further if it wasn't for that.”
Wylie's rider Denis O'Regan was then one of two jockeys in the wars on an eventful afternoon.
Most sickening was an incident at the second-last flight that marred the Liverpool Volkswagen Handicap Hurdle.
Campbell Gillies was in with a fighting chance aboard Lie Forrit but the saddle slipped before the hurdle. He got up quickly and walked across towards the rails but Risk Runner crashed into the young jockey and was brought down himself.
Gillies, a conditional with Lucinda Russell, was taken to hospital and Russell reported: “He has got broken ribs and will be a bit concussed but his internal organs are OK.” The race went to John Quinn's Spring Breeze (15-2).
Meanwhile, Monet’s Garden rolled back the years with a perfect round of precision jumping to win the Grade Two totetentofollow Old Roan Chase for the second time in three years at Aintree.
The grey, who beat Kauto Star in this race in 2007 before getting bogged down in very soft ground 12 months ago, made every yard of the running for jockey Barry Geraghty, who said: “He has jumped as good as you could ever wish a horse to jump.
“I couldn't be more delighted with him.
“He has won brilliantly.”
It certainly was impressive stuff from the 12-1 chance, who was taken on early by last year's winner Knowhere but then quickly put a gap between himself and the rest that never looked likely to be breached.