Cape Tribulation put himself in the Gold Cup picture with a last-gasp success in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham.
In an attritional renewal, only the winner, Hunt Ball and Imperial Commander were in contention from quite some way out as gruelling conditions took a toll, with Cape Tribulation in the slipstream of the other two under a superb waiting ride from Denis O'Regan.
Hunt Ball gave way in the straight and just as Imperial Commander, the 2010 Gold Cup winner having his first start for 680 days, looked like he had done enough, the Malcolm Jefferson-trained Cape Tribulation (7-1) dramatically got up on the line.
O'Regan said: "He jumped well, he travelled great and he enjoyed the ground. He's a different horse this year and I'm delighted.
"I missed the second-last and I had to give him a chance to get rolling again. He loves Cheltenham and he tried his heart out. He's a very tough horse when it comes down to it."
Jefferson added: "Now I think we'll probably have to come back for the Gold Cup. I'm not saying he's going to win it, but he might get placed in one, this year's especially. He's in the World Hurdle, but he is jumping so well now I think the Gold Cup is the race he'll go for.
"On his day he's a good horse. Denis was brilliant, but if a horse does everything right these are good jockeys and they know what to do. He might be better on better ground and if could get a place in the Gold Cup that might be better than running with a big weight in a handicap."
Nigel Twiston-Davies was full of praise for Imperial Commander.
He said: "You'd have to be delighted and if we'd been able to get him fit enough he probably would have won. It's been so difficult getting him back with his splint problems, but we have kept him swimming and that made all the difference.
"He kept tanking and if he had settled better he would probably have had more of a finishing kick. There are six weeks to to the Gold Cup and that is plenty of time."
23 January 2017Paul Nicholls ponders Politologue plans
Catchamat lays down Newcastle marker for the Waltons
Top Gamble back in Clarence House Chase frame at Cheltenham
More Of That given Cheltenham cross-country chase option by Jonjo O'Neill
Harry Fry gives white-hot Unowhatimeanharry Cleeve Hurdle entry
Nicky Richards set to launch dual Doncaster raid in Sky Bet Chase
Kerry Lee considers Thistlecrack Cheltenham clash with Kylemore Lough
Ladbrokes replaces Hennessy as sponsor of Gold Cup at Newbury
Briery Queen on course for Cheltenham Festival date
Nicky Henderson rules out Clarence House option for Altior
Gordon Elliott hoping for Leopardstown rain ahead of Don Poli Gold run
Leicester call early check due to frost threat
Gallant Gray Wolf River set more realistic targets for next outing
Evan Williams thinking of Aintree for Evening Hush
Ice Cold Soul bags big handicap hurdle prize at Leopardstown
A Toi Phil the latest to benefit from magic touch of Jack Kennedy
Faugheen on course to return for Irish Champion Hurdle defence
Yorkhill still unbeaten over fences after Leopardstown win
All options open for Harry Fry's Haydock hero Neon Wolf
Smart Flat mare Toe The Line off the mark over hurdles
No rush for Jessica Harrington to map out Jezki target
22 January 2017King George VI Chase move would need BHA approval, says Nick Rust
Alary's Haydock disappointment mystifying Tizzard team
Airlie Beach on course for Cheltenham Festival assignment
David Pipe planning one more run with National-bound Vieux Lion Rouge
Warren Greatrex maps out Towton target for Missed Approach
Frozen track claims Fontwell card
Bristol De Mai's day as Alary falters in Peter Marsh at Haydock
Nigel Twiston-Davies salutes The New One after Haydock triumph
Un De Sceaux to run at Cheltenham for rearranged Clarence House Chase
Neon Wolf cuts loose at Haydock to claim Supreme trial
Waiting Patiently pounces at Haydock for Malcolm Jefferson
Deepsand a shore thing at Haydock for Alexander Thorne
Classy Jezki back in business at Navan
Yorkhill faces examination of chasing credentials at Leopardstown
Heartbreak City bids to transfer top Flat form to valuable jumps prize
21 January 2017Pinzolo too sharp for Lingfield rivals
Hereford forced to abandon Sunday card
Hereford inspection brought forward
Clarence House Chase switched to Cheltenham
Sunday check for Hereford card
Fontwell team call inspection ahead of Sunday meeting
Frozen Taunton loses Saturday fixture
Dual Group One winner The Grey Gatsby joins Dermot Weld
Ascot card called off following early-morning inspection
River flows deep for Tim Vaughan at Chepstow
Project Bluebook earns Cheltenham quotes with Musselburgh success
Colin Tizzard earmarks Cleeve Hurdle charge with West Approach
Injury setback for Andrew Thornton but 'this is 100 per cent not the end'
Peter Bowen ponders hurdling return for Henri Parry Morgan
Alan King puts 'progressive' Elgin on trial at Haydock
Dashing grey Politologue takes next step up the ladder at Haydock
The New One primed for Champion Hurdle Trial hat-trick bid
Colin Tizzard wary of Alary's weighty task in Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock
20 January 2017Tom Symonds keen to test Don Bersy before Haydock date
Jezki back on road to Cheltenham with Navan return
Un De Sceaux and Ar Mad set to renew rivalry but weather threatens Ascot
Ascot 'up against it' as Clarence House Chase card in jeopardy
Partly-frozen Ascot to stage inspection before Clarence House fixture
Chepstow given go-ahead after precautionary inspection
Classic quotes for Really Special after Meydan success
Alfie proves a money-spinner for Kerry Lee at Wincanton
No place quite like Ludlow for Land Of Vic
Willie Mullins happy with progress of Faugheen and Annie Power
Ryanair Chase on the horizon for Sizing John after Kinloch Brae success
Willie Mullins mob-handed in Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival
Ballyandy heading straight to Betfair Hurdle
Faugheen and Annie Power part of 47-strong entry for Stayers' Hurdle
Un De Sceaux and Ar Mad clash in Clarence House Chase at Ascot