Politologue staked his Queen Mother Champion Chase claims as he presented Paul Nicholls with his 10th win in the Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown.

The six-year-old finished fourth in the JLT Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last season before slipping up at the last with a Grade One seemingly in the bag at Aintree, but he righted that record here.

Politologue showed the benefit of his Haldon Gold Cup win at Exeter last month as he travelled strongly for Harry Cobden before fending off the late challenge of 8-13 favourite Fox Norton by half a length at the line.

Nicholls, who has saddled the likes of Kauto Star, Master Minded and Twist Magic to victory in this two-mile race, has no doubt all roads now lead to the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Nicholls said: "He is starting to look the proper job. I knew when he went to Exeter there would be huge improvement.

"No one ever believes you when you say they need a run, but he hadn't been back long enough really.

"I knew they would go quick and his jumping stands him in great stead. Harry said he just cruises there and ends up idling in front. The faster they go, the more he can get a tow into the race.

"John (Hales, owner) has always wanted him to be a Gold Cup horse. I just thought at Haydock last season and at Cheltenham we were riding him wrong and doing the wrong thing.

"That's why I said we will go to back to two at Aintree and we were unlucky that day.

"I suspect we will go to Ascot (for the Clarence House Chase) now at the end of January then on to Cheltenham."

Hales, who has owned other top two-milers such as One Man and Azertyuiop but never won the Tingle Creek, said: : "It is a wonderful win.

"I'm absolutely delighted so it is onwards and upwards now. He is only a six-year-old. I thought we had a chance.

"I thought if we win this today, we've beaten a really good horse. It is a pity Douvan didn't come or Altior wasn't fit because I like to compete against the best and we don't duck anybody. But he a beat a very good horse and all credit to him."

Colin Tizzard felt a couple of scruffy jumps had proved pivotal for Fox Norton and jockey Robbie Power.

He said: "As Robbie said, he missed the first a bit and was just chasing them and we never got there - it was as simple as that. I would say we will be stepping up in trip now. We've always been talking about doing it.

"Whether he is a Ryanair horse or a King George horse, that is not to think about at this minute as I don't know. He ran on and at two out, you thought he was still going to have a pretty good chance.

"I am sure if the race was run again and he pinged the first he would have been right up there. There were no excuses, he was beaten by a better horse on the day."