After losing his unbeaten record over hurdles with an odds-on defeat behind House Island at Ludlow, the five-year-old resumed his progression as he exacted revenge on his last-time-out conqueror in the Grade Two feature.
The 10-1 shot was produced to hit the front going over the last in the two-and-a-half-mile prize by Harry Cobden, before digging deep to hold the rallying House Island by three-quarters of a length.
Nicholls said: “He was a massive price. Something upset him at Ludlow. He got in a bit of a fight with Bryony (Frost) there – whether something in his mouth was pinching him that day, I don’t know, but he got in a fight with her and literally hung off the course.
“I felt if he hadn’t run at Ludlow he would have been favourite on his Wincanton run. I think he is really good. I did say you could put a line through his last run and today he has shown what a really smart horse he is. He gallops and stays, but he is still as green as grass.
“He will be a super chaser in a year’s time. He is well capable of winning a good race in the spring. I won’t ruin him by going to Cheltenham if I think it is too soon. He is a proper horse with a proper engine.
“I’ve always loved him.”