Long Run got up in the final strides to collar Captain Chris and regain his crown in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton.
Captain Chris looked like going two places better than last year when he came through to head the winner of two seasons ago. However, Long Run, the 15-8 favourite trained by Nicky Henderson, rallied for amateur Sam Waley-Cohen, to get back up and score by a neck.
The winning rider said: "He was so brave. I had to keep asking him - I asked him early and maybe I asked too much as he was tired but so brave. This is his fifth year of competing at this level and he means an enormous amount to us. That was racing at it's best for me. I can't put it into words. It's an honour and a privilege."
Considering the Gold Cup, for which sponsors Betfred cut Long Run to 6-1, Waley-Cohen said: "It's going to be a different type of race at Cheltenham - I hope it's not as testing or as wet and the earlier races here have made a difference to the ground. It's hard to know if you're going to get home, but the horse is just a star."
Long Run is owned by Waley-Cohen's father Robert, who added: "He's come here four times now and won three Grade Ones and been second to Kauto Star. I wasn't absolutely sure that we had got back up but as I came down the stairs from the stand, I saw his name go up and that was fantastic."
Henderson was similarly thrilled to see his former Cheltenham Gold Cup victor return to winning form, saying: "It was a brave call to go on when he did and it was the right call to make. It was a battle out there today and not the best ground for any of them. You would have to say last year was a disappointment but he's been running good races all the time.
"We had it in our minds that Bobs Worth would run in the Cheltenham race in January (Argento Chase), leaving Long Run free to run in the Denman (Aon) Chase at Newbury, but we'll have to discuss things with connections. I'd love to see Long Run back on better ground and I'm so pleased Sam and the horse have proved a point to people today."
Richard Johnson was given a nine-day ban (January 9-17) and fined £900 by the stewards for exceeding the permitted level with the whip on Captain Chris. He said: "I thought coming to the last I was going to win, but the other horse is a proven Gold Cup winner and he's just outstayed me.
"It was a great run and I'm just looking forward to riding him on better ground."
Grands Crus travelled notably well on his return from a breathing operation and just tied up in the final stages to pass the past 14 lengths further back in third. Jockey Tom Scudamore said: "He ran a great race and I'm most pleased he looks a lot more like his old self."
8 December 2013Bright start for New Dawn
Twin lights up Hilly Way
Twin lights up Hilly Way
Durkan stroll for Arvika
Unioniste has Lexus aim
New One heading to International
Drowne in hospital after fall
Baby in running for Warwick
Moore sets sights on Kempton
Ex-Oxx ace Mofeed lifts Cup
Cloud and Lantern sunk in Mile
Kanaloa sizzles in Sprint
Dominant shocks The Fugue in Vase
Turner back in business
Faugheen in impressive strike
Flemenstar out of John Durkan
Unioniste claims Listed prize
Grugy great in Tingle Creek
V for victory for Henderson
Chance best in Becher thriller
Hinterland reigns in Henry VIII
Mullins strikes with Gitane
7 December 2013V for victory for Henderson
Twinlight out to show the Way
Wyck primed for big Aintree run
Dandino and Rock miss Vase run
Bec puzzler for Lavelle
Moore's Vino is vintage stuff
Mullins sets sights on Navan
Captain taking charge for Henderson
George plots Aintree gold rush
King out to reign in Henry VIII
Newcastle in talks over AW track
Sir champing at bit for Durkan date
Baby on board for Becher
6 December 2013Carberry sidelined for weekend
Dunaden 'back to his best'
Glance sights fixed on Cup glory
Strawbridge coy over Cloud future
Sire out to profit from Sacre blow
Queen awarded ROA honour
Three-month ban for Arnold
Contrite Butler must 'rebuild life'
Nicholls watching ground for Roque
Topper tests Future waters
Murphy hit by nine-day ban
Big field for Becher
Sacre forced out of Sandown return
Cadeaux team enjoying the ride
Lantern burning bright once more
5 December 2013Rasen survives wind scare
Festival switch for Mares' race
Sacre out of Tingle Creek
No luck for Jwala in Sprint draw
Aigles well ahead of fourth Cup bid
Rasen to check on wind
Butler considers ban response
Court team eyeing Huntingdon return
Oscar on course for Cheltenham
Cantlow in Cheltenham frame
Juddmonte "not for sale"
Noseda content with Grand journey
Cloud future hinges on Mile outcome
Road charts route towards Becher
Knight backs Somersby to shine