Ridden by Tom O’Brien, the race favourite was made to work hard for his success having been pushed all the way by eventual runner-up Ramses De Teillee. Yala Enki finished third in the 20-strong field, with Rons Dream coming in fourth.
The victory also provided trainer Colin Tizzard with his second success in the race in three years following on from Native River’s triumph in 2016.
Ridden prominently from the outset in behind a fast pace set by Vieux Lion Rouge and Yala Enki, Elegant Escape looked dangerous entering the home straight as just four horses from the starting field of 20 held strong chances of taking the honours.
Hitting the front alongside David Pipe’s grey Ramses De Teilee three from home, Elegant Escape shot two lengths clear of his main rival, only to be challenged strongly on the run-in as Ramses De Teillee was able to respond under David Noonan. The pair threatened to haul back Elegant Escape down the home straight, but O’Brien asked for one more effort from his mount who responded magnificently to win by a length and a quarter.
Yala Enki stayed on well to take third for trainer Venetia Williams, while Peter Bowen’s Rons Dream finished fourth.
Trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Sam Twiston-Davies combined to record a double on the card at Chepstow.
The first came in a thrilling finish to the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle as Quel Destin came in a neck’s distance ahead of favourite Adjali in second; that leading pair a clear 22 lengths clear of third place Arverne in third.
The double was completed in the final race of the day, the two mile open flat chase, and in some style by Ask For Glory. Twiston-Davies led his mount to a 13 length success, ahead of Imperial Esprit in second and Financier in third.
At Kempton Park, Altior made it 16 wins out of 16 over obstacles with a comfortable victory in the Desert Orchid Chase.
The race favourite was never troubled and never looked likely to lose its unbeaten tag, particularly once the horse took the lead under Nico de Boinville on the approach to the second-last. The eight-year-old was initially settled in third behind the front-running Special Tiara and loomed upsides the 2017 Champion Chase hero before striding away up the home straight for a massive 19-length success. Diego Du Charmil finished a long way off in second ahead of Special Tiara in third.
After their victory in Boxing Day’s King George VI Chase at Kempton, trainer Paul Nicolls and jockey Harry Cobden enjoyed more success with a double on Thursday’s card.
The first came in the two mile Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase with Dynamite Dollars who negotiated the two mile challenge well to beat race favourite Kalashnikov by a length and a quarter. The leading pair were no match for the other three contenders; Highway One O One taking third a full 28 lengths behind.
The double was completed in the three mile Handicap Chase as Cobden steered Adrien Du Pont to a three and a half-length verdict over Just A Sting in second and Wandrin Star a close third.