Editeur Du Gite rallied bravely to overhaul Edwardstone and spring a surprise in the Albert Bartlett Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham.
Gary Moore supplemented the 14/1 chance into the race on Monday having not originally entered him for the original contest when it was due to be staged at Ascot last weekend.
The move was richly rewarded as he ran his rivals ragged from the front and turning in he had both the runner-up and 4/9 favourite Energumene off the bridle.
The market leader made a mistake at the last to end his chance but Edwardstone picked up well up the hill, last year's Sporting Life Arkle hero going to the front and trading at 1.01 in running on Betfair.
However Editeur Du Gite was far from done and his renewed effort, which provided Niall Houlihan with a first Grade One success, gained the day by a head.
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Sky Bet eased Energumene out to 11/8 from 4/6 for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase while cutting Edwrdstone to 7/4 and Editeur Du Gite to 9/2, all non-runner/no bet.
Editeur Du Gite is 5/2 from 25s with Paddy Power and Betfair.
It was an emotional win for connections who tasted Champion Chase success with Sire De Grugy in 2014 and representing his father, Josh Moore was asked to compare Sire De Grugy to the winner.
“They are quite different sort of horses. To have a horse work as Sire De Grugy at home – I remember we used to have to get milers of the Flat to lead him in his work, because he was such a good work horse,” he said.
“It would be the same with this fellow. He works unbelievably well. He is definitely not far off him, anyway. He was there on his own merits. The good thing is Edwardstone came to him and looked like he was going to go on and win the race, but he has fought back at the end. I was a little surprised to see that, in the sense that when he was a novice he used to be a weak finisher at the end of his races and he is actually finishing his races much better as he’s got older. Perhaps he has got better stamina now. It could be a maturity thing.”
He went on: “There are three in the Champion Chase now. He definitely has the right to be in it. Not so long ago we thought we would go for the Game Spirit and then wait for the Celebration at Sandown and miss Cheltenham because the others would be targeting it. All being well, he will come back for the Champion now, I should think.”
On the winning ride of Houlihan, Moore added: “It is a big win for Niall as that is his first Grade One, and it was probably his first big winner that he rode aboard this horse at Kempton Park so it is nice for him. If I’m honest with you he is an absolute gentleman to ride in a race.
“Niall has got confidence him as well so it works out well. I remember I won a novice chase on him at Newbury and I said to dad we should go for the Red Rum at Aintree now. I know that was a handicap but he won that race well that day. I’ve always thought he is up to this level. Dad is watching at home today. He would be jumping up and down screaming, but I don’t know if he would be in tears.
“One of the owners Trevor Jacobs has been in a hospital for nearly six months so it is good for him. He is making progress which is good though.”
Houlihan said: “It is unreal really. The horse tries so hard and for you. Every time a horse came to me he stuck his neck out, especially when he got headed after the last.
“To come from behind up the hill here shows true guts. I felt about 50 yards from the line he was coming for me and trying for me and he stuck his head out. I wasn’t sure crossing the line, but thankfully they called my number.
“I’m chuffed. It is brilliant that they put the faith in me on a horse like him and to pull it off is great. You just sit on him and he does a lot for me. He jumps brilliantly and travels well. He is just a jockey’s dream really.
“I thought we are taking on the two best two-milers in the world really if you look at it. I thought if he puts up a good performance he can go for the Champion Chase, where he goes next I’m not quite sure. He has done that the hard way.”
Edwardstone's trainer Alan King said: “He was a little bit fresh. He started to tank down the hill and Tom (Cannon) said he just had to bring him back a wee bit. He probably used a bit of energy getting there and thought probably at the last, we would go away and win. But full marks to the winner.
“Listen, I’m happy. I needed to get this into him today to try to get him ready for the March meeting. He will go straight to the Festival. I didn’t want to wait for the Game Spirit, because he needed a run today and then if Newbury was abandoned I’d have been in a bit of trouble. He is perfectly fit, don’t get me wrong, but he needed this to take the edge off him.
“The Kempton race, he only got to the fifth and that did nothing for him, really. He was just a bit gassy today. I did stress to Tom beforehand that this was not the be all and end all today and I’m perfectly happy with him.”
Energumene faded into third following an error at the last, but Willie Mullins was far from despondent and hopes the defending champion can thrive once again on the big day in March.
He said: “Up to the second-last we were running a really good race. The winner won on merit and I loved the way that he won after being passed and it was a great performance from the second (Edwardstone) too.
“Hopefully that run will get him used to the new English white fences, we’ve schooled over them at home but he didn’t seem as happy over them today as he did last March. You saw what he did at the first and he was a little bit long at one or two. It’s different and I didn’t expect him to be that way as he’d done plenty of schooling, but he obviously did.
“I think the winner set the pace and won, it was a great performance and I’m not going to take anything away from him. We weren’t able to beat him on the day. We just hope that there’s a different result on the next day for us.”
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