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."
24 April 2014War saunters to easy success
Quevega five-timer still on course
Wylie trio go for Gold
Cyclone blows into Punchestown
Rain set to help Punchestown
Rifles aimed at York
Dante considered for Arod
Carpenter faces stamina question
Tonto strives for Sandown scalp
Telescope sights fixed on Sandown
Prize lined up for Greffulhe raid
Celebration time for super Sire
Taghrooda swerves Sandown heat
Concorde checks in for Punchestown
No Sandown run for Oscar
Un De Sceaux to skip Punchestown
Treve among stellar Ascot entries
Charline still in Guineas mix
Big guns remain in Guineas frame
Prince in Punchestown frame
Sparrow set for Punchestown spin
Balder to take novice test
Connell eager for Tank chase run
23 April 2014Telescope tops Richards runners
No rush for Annie target
Cosgrave appeal set for Monday
Hughes set for Sandown return
France adds flair to Guineas
Mullins drops Vautour Champion hint
Exciting Bunker given Dante date
Culloty keen on Gold run for Heeled
Hannon triple-handed in Guineas
Resurge revived for Epsom return
Sandown option for Battalion
Johnston pair clash in Derby Trial
Reckless Abandon returns to track
22 April 2014Rizeena delights in Guineas workout
Carberry targets swift return
Williamson escapes serious injury
Rizeena thrills Brittain on gallops
Door bags National glory
Twiston-Davies hits four-timer
Joe suffers shock defeat
Scudamore hits century mark
Ivan lands Fairyhouse prize
Thousand shows star quality
Cirrus set for Treve clash
Houblon heads Gold contenders
Guineas still on Berkshire radar
21 April 2014Door bags National glory
Wilson passes away
Ivan lands Fairyhouse prize
Stepper set for trip drop
Richards in Telescope sights
Ladies geared for Summer repeat
Hill out of Irish National
No Dundeel at Royal Ascot
Clowance up for the Cup
Garner hit with lengthy ban
Memories in Final flourish
Fitz powers home at Fairyhouse
Toner hits target for Elliott
Joe ready for Cork outing
Lennon looking to call tune
Ground holds key to Tonto show
Lucky escape for Cook
Mind called up for National service