Melodic Rendezvous ran out a taking winner of the totepool Enter The Ten To Follow Elite Hurdle at Wincanton on his first run for nine months and probably earned himself another season over timber in the process.
Trainer Jeremy Scott said beforehand how the gelding performed in this would determine which discipline he competed in for the rest of the campaign, and he stayed on powerfully to beat last season's Triumph Hurdle runner-up Far West by a length and three-quarters.
With Scott at Sandown, jockey Nick Scholfield said: "I was going well following Sam (Twiston-Davies) when he slipped turning in, then he missed two out. If those things hadn't happened, he would have scored more convincingly.
"He'd had considerable time off but I imagine Jeremy will now look at the Gerry Feilden or the Fighting Fifth. Jeremy said he would come on for this. He travelled and gave me the feel of a Champion Hurdle horse, that is for sure."
Standing Ovation extended his winning sequence to four and made it three straight triumphs at the course with a resounding success for David Pipe and Conor O'Farrell in the Badger Ales Trophy.
The well-backed 5-2 favourite obviously loves it at the Somerset venue, but he may have to turn out elsewhere next weekend.
O'Farrell bided his time before sending the six-year-old to the front with almost a circuit to run.
Standing Ovation was a couple of lengths up turning for home, but then extended his advantage with the long run from two out as the last fence was omitted.
He had five lengths to spare over Alfie Spinner at the line, with Court By Surprise another three and a quarter lengths away in third.
Not surprisingly, connections may look to strike while the iron is hot at Cheltenham on Friday.
Pipe said: "Not that long ago we were thinking of getting rid of him. He couldn't adapt to our work schedule and basically was a bit soft, but then all of a sudden he's grown up, worked well and hasn't looked back.
"If he comes out of it OK, we could take our chance in an amateur riders' race at Cheltenham on Friday, for which he gets a 7lb penalty."