Nube Negra inflicted an emphatic defeat on Altior in the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.

Nicky Henderson's dual Champion Chase victor Altior, who was a late absentee from the Tingle Creek earlier in the season, ran in snatches throughout for Nico de Boinville, but ultimately had no answer to Dan Skelton’s impressive winner.

On the bridle throughout, Harry Skelton was at pains not to hit the front too soon on Nube Negra, who had not been seen since finishing second in the Kingmaker at Warwick in February.

Altior showed guts to keep in contention in the home straight and it briefly looked as if his famous turbo was going to kick in, but Nube Negra had plenty in reserve and was heavily eased, crossing the line three and a half lengths to the good.

The 20-1 winner was continuing a golden spell for the Skeltons, who have won Grade Ones with Allmankind and Shan Blue this season.

Willie Mullins’ Chacun Pour Soi impressed at Leopardstown and is now no bigger than 6-4 favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, with Altior out to 12-1 with a number of firms. Nube Negra is 14-1 in a place. 

Harry Skelton told ITV Racing: "He was brilliant, he travelled and jumped with a lot of zest which is what he's always been good at.

"I was always in a canter to be honest, on ground that was probably slow enough for him.

"We wanted to run him at Aintree last season but didn’t get the chance, but all that time that he’s had has probably done him the world of good. He’s still only six and was very impressive today.

"We’ve always thought a lot of him. He used to travel to two out and not finish his race as he was weak, but he strengthened up and it’s great for his owner Terry Spraggett."

Henderson dismissed talk of retirement for Altior, who suffered only his second loss in 22 jumps outings.

The trainer said: "To be fair, he was never really taking him (De Boinville) where he wanted to go.

"If Paul's (Nicholls) horse (Duc De Genievres) might have won, it might have had a bit more rhythm to the race and a bit of class to it. That is not the old Altior, I’m the first to confess, and it was hard work.

"He always seemed to be in top gear. Jumping-wise he wasn’t as electric as he usually is at home. You could say he was rusty, but it wasn’t like he blew up, so I’m not going to blame it on that.

"We’ve just got to see how he is and how he comes out of it. He was tired, but he puts a lot into it. If he puts a lot into it, he ought to be finishing a long way in front of them to be fair.

"Unless he definitely tells us enough is enough, we’ve not discussed it (retirement) and that’s the last thing on my mind that we would retire him."

Henderson had earlier seen his Shishkin continue his winning run in the Ladbrokes Wayward Lad Novices' Chase.

The six-year-old, who overcame a troubled passage to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March, made a faultless chasing debut at this track last month.

Stepped up in class for this Grade Two event, Shishkin faced decent rivals in Gumball, Tamaroc Du Mathan and Elusive Belle, with the first-named runner setting a strong gallop at the head of affairs.

Nico de Boinville briefly appeared to be pushing on Shishkin at one point, but he really stamped his authority on the contest on the turn for home.

Tamaroc Du Mathan still appeared to be travelling well, but in a matter of strides the race was over and Shishkin was spring-heeled at second-last fence.

The 1-3 favourite ran out a 13-length winner, with Shishkin now an odds-on shot with some bookmakers for the Arkle at Cheltenham in March.

De Boinville said: "Dicky (Richard Johnson on Gumball) has gone a right gallop from the start and I was just quite happy to sit off that and get him jumping.

"It was a solid Grade One/Two pace, so it was going to find out any horse that wasn’t up to that standard. It was definitely (an improved performance) as we were going a stride quicker.

"He was a lot sharper coming into today as well, the team at home had him in great shape. The ground was testing enough today, whereas last time he was here it was good ground, so he is versatile ground-wise.

"Like all horses, he is probably better on a slightly better surface, but I think we can come away from that with the dream still alive.

"If something came to challenge me I would have probably found a few more gears, but that was great the way he did it today. I was just checking (between the last two) where they all were as I didn’t want to get caught on the line and look an idiot.

"He got me out of trouble at the last fence down the back as the sun was very low and we couldn’t see an awful lot."