Delire D'Estruval produced a battling display to see off all comers in the Read Paul Nicholls Exclusively At Betfair Newton Novices' Hurdle, the opening race on Haydock's biggest day of the jumps campaign.
Trainer Ben Pauling's French recruit was beaten into fourth place when favourite for his British debut at Aintree a fortnight ago and was a 12-1 shot for the Listed opener on Merseyside.
Daryl Jacob set out to make all the running aboard the four-year-old, closely pursued by 13-8 favourite Dynamite Dollars, as well as Midnight Shadow.
The latter emerged as the biggest threat and even poked his head in front after the final flight, but Delire D'Estruval fought back bravely to prevail by a neck.
Anthony Bromley, racing manager for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, said: "We were throwing him in at the deep end a little bit, but having come from Guillaume Macaire's stable and run around Auteuil, when the ground came up heavy we decided to give it a go.
"Daryl decided to make the running to try to draw the speed out of the others. He's a gutsy horse and battled back.
"We've not made any big plans for him. We took a bit of a chance running him today, but it worked out well."
Jacobs said: "The horse improved for that run at Aintree."
Hainan, sent off at odds of 13-2, jumped and galloped his rivals into the ground in the Betfair Each Way Edge Handicap Chase.
With a shade over three and a half miles and ultra-testing conditions facing the eight runners, it was not for the faint-hearted.
Hainan appeared to relish the test, however, negotiating his obstacles with aplomb and devouring the ground in front on his way to a 12-length success.
Winning trainer Sue Smith said: "This is obviously what he's been waiting for - three and a half miles on heavy ground.
"They're stiff fences here, but he jumped great and handled the ground well.
"We'll stick to these long-distance chases on this sort of ground on these sort of tracks."
Paul Nicholls made it a remarkable six wins in a row in the same race when Clan Des Obeaux was a runaway victor of the Cash Out In-Play Betfair Graduation Steeplechase in the hands of 19-year-old jockey Harry Cobden.
The five-year-old was beaten just half a length by Whisper in a two-runner race at Kempton less than a fortnight ago and was the 3-1 joint-favourite to go one better.
Clan Des Obeaux tracked fellow market leader Vintage Clouds into the home straight, with his young rider confident in the saddle, and he eventually powered seven lengths clear.
Nicholls' assistant Harry Derham said: "Paul always likes to support these graduation chases and it's great to win this race again.
"Two and a half miles in soft ground suits this horse well. Harry (Cobden) felt it suited him being held up, rather than making the running as he had to at Kempton last time.
"The plan after Kempton was to go for the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham, but then this race came up and traditionally there aren't many runners, so he came here.
"We'll get him home and see how he is. Nothing is set in stone.
"He's only a five-year-old and hopefully he'll keep progressing."
Limited Reserve was a clear-cut winner of the Betfair Exchange Handicap Hurdle.
The Christian Williams-trained five-year-old was runner-up to subsequent Greatwood Hurdle hero Elgin on his latest appearance at Ascot and confirmed that promise with a comfortable eight-length success under leading conditional James Bowen.
Williams said: "I think stepping up to two-mile-three helped him as he's been running over two miles on good ground and always been in full gear.
"I think his rating has gone up after his last six runs and he's been a great horse for us, running on Saturdays.
"I'd rather use his mark for a race like this than go and win by 10 lengths at Ludlow."