Paul Nicholls claimed a first Paddy Power Gold Cup as Al Ferof defied a huge weight burden with a brilliant round of jumping at Cheltenham.
Nicholls, owner John Hales and jockey Ruby Walsh have suffered heartache in this race before with the ill-fated Granit Jack, but the 8-1 chance went a long way to exorcising those demons.
Still under a tight hold at the top of the hill, where first Hunt Ball and shortly afterwards Grands Crus had run their races, Walsh was joined by another grey, Walkon, and held just a slight advantage two out. He stamped his class on proceedings from there, and hard as the Alan King runner tried he could not reel him in up the gruelling hill, finishing three lengths adrift.
Nadiya de la Vega was third with long-time leader Casey Top running a gallant race in fourth.
Nicholls said: "He must be a good horse. He came in late because he cut himself in the field, but he had a gallop at Wincanton last weekend and went really well. The second-season chasers of ours like him are improving, I don't think the horses were right last year.
"We'll have to think about Kempton (King George) I suppose, he stayed well there and I think we'll have to look at it."
Walsh said: "You need a bit of class in this race, which is why we were keen to take a chance. In fairness to him we were forcing him at two (miles). Stepping up in trip is probably what we should be doing."
Hales said: "That was a stunning performance, as good as from any horse I have owned. The rain concerned me today, but I thought it was an outstanding run.
"I wasn't as confident when I started looking at the race yesterday - I thought it was going to be difficult to give weight away to horses like Grands Crus. I think we have decided we will go to the King George now, and he is a horse that we are going to have to look after."
David Pipe said of Grands Crus: "Tom (Scudamore) just said he wasn't really ever that happy with him, he lost a near-fore plate but no excuses, we'll get him home and see. He had his heart checked afterwards and that was fine, he's in one piece and far worse things happen. I don't think so (ground to blame), he's handled very soft ground before."
20 November 2014Leading Light retired
Frankel filly breaks Irish record
Linton loses Listed place
Doubles for Pipe and Scudamore
Nasty spill for Insole
McCoy targets midweek return
Farm comes Home to roost at Thurles
Flemenstar future dictated by scan
McNamara joy at turning pro
Volnay seeking Mersey paradise
Cue lined up for Haydock return
Sloane Avenue books Dubai date
Spencer reveals Qatar riding snub
Doyle ready for Godolphin challenge
Good news at Huntingdon
BHA hear Linton case
Avenue shows winning way
Grugy diagnosed with hip issue
Meade plots Monksland comeback
Ptit secures swift double
Shanes shines in hurdles win
Mullins' stars set for weekend runs
Haydock aim for Aurore
Medermit in Betfair contention
19 November 2014Shaneshill sparkles on hurdles bow
O'Grady keen on Becher run
High hopes for Zaidiyn
Cyclone makes Thurles return
Betfair launch National Jockey Day
Risk set for Haydock return
Murphy back at Navan for Troytown
Ground key to Aubusson Haydock bid
Knock A Hand in Troytown contention
Vautour given Navan entry
Place Hennessy bid excites King
That pleases in Newbury spin
Ascot aim for Master
Clouds primed for Hennessy bid
Challow option for Games
December aim for Berlais
Fenton facing Turf Club verdict
18 November 2014Nephew in Hennessy mix
Three runners for Sandra Hughes
Kempton first for Cladocera
Hobbs seeking Hennessy gold
Easy possible for quick return
Modest Moore strives for perfection
Driving ban for Queally
Meade bemused by Wood demise
Warrior no soft touch in Hennessy
Heron angling for Kempton honours
Able Deputy delivers at Plumpton
Mullins heavyweights in at Ascot
One and only on Mersey beat
Cue takes aim at Haydock double
Re set for second hurdles run
17 November 2014Leopardstown on Ned agenda
French raider for Hyde heat
King has Leopardstown aim
Great meeting complete for Hobbs
It's Uxizandre all the way
Chancol grinds out success
Dunraven storms to victory
Hurricane storms back in Morgiana
Henderson on the scoreboard
Scan key to Grugy Sandown bid
Tributes flow on 'a sad day'
A man who conquered on all fronts
Death of racing great Hughes