Nicky Henderson’s six-year-old, named by owner JP Mcmanus in honour of record-breaking rider Sir AP McCoy, had to defy a muddling pace in a tactical contest.
But there was no mistaking his superiority under Barry Geraghty as they took a narrow lead in the sprint to the last and then stayed on decisively two-and-a-half lengths in front of Paul Nicholls’s Getaway Trump.
“I was nervous,” said Henderson. “I was impressed with him.
“Whereas last time he took off with Aidan (Coleman) halfway down the back, he was trying to take off with Barry off a slow pace.
“I love the turn of foot he had at the end of the day, given the fact he pulled pretty hard the whole way.”
As ever, Henderson has an abundance of emerging talent in his stable, but he acknowledges Champ is among this season’s best.
““He has got an amazing name – I’d say JP was sitting on this name for a few years, and it was a question of which horse got the name,” said Henderson.
“He has got a wonderful pedigree and is a lovely horse. He has got a name he has got to live up to, but we took a big step towards it (in the Challow Hurdle).”