Melodic Rendezvous pipped Zarkandar in a thrilling finish to the Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.
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Nick Scholfied's mount (Evens favourite) looked in trouble turning for home but the Jeremy Scott-trained gelding responded well to his jockey's urgings.
He still had a length to find with rival Zarkandar (11/10) jumping the last but surged up the inside of the runner-up, the pair bumping in the process, and recorded a narrow half-length success.
The front-running Notarfbad, a stablemate of the winner, faded in the home straight, but there was definite promise from Alan King's Grumeti who held every chance at the second-last but couldn't match the first two close home.
"They ignored the pacemaker, which I feared they might and it turned into a bit of a sprint off the bend," said Scott.
"I thought he was beat and the ground is as bad as it gets along the back, but when he found some better ground he picked up
"I'm pleased how he battled back. As long as the ground is okay, he'll go to Cheltenham.
"I suppose the Aintree Hurdle would be the easier race for him but the owners are very keen to go to Cheltenham and, as long as he's healthy, I'm sure he will."
Sky Bet trimmed the winner to 20/1 (from 25s) for the Stan James Champion Hurdle, with the firm offering non-runner no-bet and best odds guaranteed.
Spokesman Michael Shinners said: "Melodic Rendezvous showed a really likeable attitude to win once again at his beloved Wincanton.
"It was a performance which puts him in the Champion Hurdle picture, especially if the ground comes up soft, and a more strongly-run race there would suit him well."