Favourite Fingal Bay (9/2) produced a really gutsy display under top weight to land the Pertemps Network Final at Cheltenham.
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The cream rose to the top in the 3m handicap hurdle, as Richard Johnson got the Philip Hobbs-trained winner home by a nose after a rousing battle with second top-weight Southfield Theatre (20/1).
Cross Kennon grabbed the lead on the second circuit but Fingal Bay had travelled well throughout in fourth or fifth and went for home on the run to the final circuit.
However, Southfield Theatre had cruised up on the outside, after travelling just as easily, and he held a narrow advantage jumping the last.
The Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old maintained a small lead as the duo battled up the run-in but Fingal Bay dug deep and conjured up a late surge in the shadow of the post, the photo confirming he had prevailed by the narrowest of margins, to the despair of the runner-up's jockey Daryl Jacob.
Pineau De Re charged home to finish just a neck behind the two principals in third, with his fellow 33/1 shot Trustan Times also right on the premises in fourth.
The winner has recently returned to the track after injury and Johnson said: "He's an amazing horse, we have always thought the world of him. He's come back from an injury last year, Philip gave him every chance, and he's been well rewarded today.
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"I didn't want to be in front for too long and he's such a trier - I have good luck on my side at the moment. It's amazing for me but Daryl is devastated."
Trainer Hobbs was also very complimentary about the winner, adding: "He was very good right from the word go. He won his first ever bumper and he's one of the very few horses to have beaten Simonsig.
"He's a very tough horse. After he won at Exeter (on his return) this was the obvious race for him. We said at the start of the week we'd settle for one winner but that's two and we'll settle for that.
"Richard rode a brilliant race. He's a very, very good jockey and a very good bloke."
Nicholls admitted such a narrow defeat was tough to take.
He said: "Philip and I have just been talking about it and it was very close. I would be interested to see the photo as someone told me that he thought it was a dead-heat.
"I thought he had a good chance and he ran a good race, but it's frustrating. Whatever happens, he will go chasing next year."