Cobden shows class aboard Noyer
Colin Tizzard was in the winner's enclosure again after Harry Cobden steered 20/1 chance Viconte Du Noyer home in an uncomfortably dramatic renewal of the BetVictor Handicap Chase Cheltenham.
Colin Tizzard, double at Cheltenham.
Successful 35 minutes earlier with Thistlecrack, Tizzard was sending the grey winner out for the first time from his yard, the grey having been one of the horses owned by Alan and Ann Potts transferred to him from Henry De Bromhead's yard in the summer.
Sent of a 20/1 chance under this season's leading conditional rider Cobden, he made stealthy progress on the run to two out to overhaul frontrunning pair Shotgun Paddy and Sausalito Sunrise.
Warrantor was the first to throw down a challenge, but a sound jump at the final fence kept Viconte Du Noyer firmly in front and they maintained the advantage all the way to the winning post, scoring by a length from Warrantor (14/1) with the well-supported Minella Rocco (11/2 favourite) just a head further back in third after a series of jumping errors. Fourth Act (12/1) was a close-up fourth.
There was an ugly incident halfway through the race when the riderless Le Reve refused to jump the second-last fence with a circuit to go, causing a pile-up which saw Cogry, Racing Pulse and Midnight Prayer exiting the race through no fault of their own. Happily it was reported that no horses or jockeys were believed to have been badly injured in the melee.
"All of his good runs previously had been over two miles and Mr Tizzard put him over three miles, three today, but he jumped great and travelled brilliant," said Cobden.
"He wasn't stopping up the hill so I can't see why he can't get even further."
Tizzard admitted: "Running him in this race was quite brave. Tom Scudamore rode him work a few days ago and said he was a two-miler, so we thought we may have him in the wrong race.
"I said halfway round 'If he stays, he wins'.
"We were lucky we missed the carnage. Things like that happen.
"Every winner is important. Ann and Alan have spent a fortune on horses. They want Cheltenham horses and that's why we entered a lot here this weekend and they were fit and ready to run.
"He might be a Grand National horse, but at this stage he might be anything."