Viconte Du Noyer stays well for Cheltenham honours
Viconte Du Noyer (20-1) won a dramatic race for Cheltenham's BetVictor Handicap Chase
Viconte Du Noyer (20-1) won a dramatic race for Cheltenham's BetVictor Handicap Chase to complete a quick double for the Colin Tizzard stable.
Le Reve, who unseated Nico de Boinville at the second when sharing the lead with Shotgun Paddy, caused mayhem at the fence in front of the stands on the second circuit.
He went straight across the obstacle, causing a pile-up with the well-fancied Cogry, Racing Pulse and Midnight Prayer the casualties. All horses and riders appeared to have escaped serious injury.
Shotgun Paddy and Any Currency carried on with pacemaking duties but the three-mile-three-and-a-half-furlong distance took some getting.
Sausalito Sunrise made a game bid to repeat last year's victory but had nothing left from two out.
Harry Cobden brought Viconte Du Noyer with a strong run to claim the spoils in a hard-fought finish. Warrantor was a length away in second, with Minella Rocco a head back in third and Fourth Act was fourth.
Tizzard, who also struck with his Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack, said: "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 (Potts) 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."
Viconte Du Noyer was quoted at 40-1 with Paddy Power for the Grand National.
Anteros sprang a 20-1 surprise as he claimed the Regulatory Finance Solutions Handicap Hurdle for trainer Sophie Leech and jockey Paul Townend.
Corrin Wood put in a brave effort in trying to make all and was still in front coming to the last flight in the Listed heat, but Anteros was cantering for Townend having made stealthy progress from well off the pace.
He put in an excellent leap at the last and accelerated away up the hill to win by seven lengths.
Leech said: "I always thought he could win a nice handicap like this as he's always been a nice horse.
"There's so much work that goes into him as he's never been easy to train. He was very keen as a young horse and he's just very late maturing. Every summer on his back he's done better physcially and matured mentally.
"He just needs to be produced at the right moment as he doesn't find much off the bridle, but it worked out great today."
Clondaw Cian (12-1) ran out a game winner of the Martin & Co Jewellers Intermediate Handicap Hurdle.
Trained by Suzy Smith and ridden by Sean Bowen, Clondaw Cian was another to make decisive late progress, only really moving into contention at the top of the straight.
Returning from his summer break, Clondaw Cian found plenty in the finish to see off Solatentif by three and a half lengths, with Millanisi Boy a further three-quarters of a length back in third.
Smith said: "We did think a lot of him last year and he's been working really nicely. I ran him a in a Grade Two novice hurdle at Sandown last year which he came fourth in, but it just took a toll on him.
"He'd come back fresh and well and he's back to the horse he was before. I asked Sean if he thought we should try to qualify for the Pertemps (Final at the Festival) as he'll come into his own over further."
Irish Roe and My Khaleesi fought out a thrilling finish to the concluding High Sheriff Of Gloucestershire's Mares' Standard Open NH Flat Race with the pair dead-heating for first.
The Alan King-trained My Khaleesi (14-1) looked to have stolen the advantage when Wayne Hutchinson kicked for home some way out but Graham Lee, the former jump jockey who has been plying his trade on the Flat for the last couple of seasons, delivered Irish Roe (5-1) to challenge around a furlong from home.
The pair battled all the way up the hill and flashed past the post as one, with the judge unable to separate them as they pulled well clear of third-placed Naranja.
Lee, who enjoyed World Hurdle glory with Inglis Drever at the 2005 Festival, said: "It was really close and I suppose everyone is a winner, so it's a good result. She's game and she's a good filly. They both wanted this so a dead-heat is fair result."
When asked what it was like to return to the Cheltenham winner's enclosure, Lee added: "It's different gravy, just a different class."
Irish Roe's trainer Peter Atkinson only has two horses in his care and was thrilled to see the Vinnie Roe mare hit the target.
He said: "She was very good and we came here today to try to get some black type for her. The wife (Lucinda) has bought her and done all the work with her.
"She's just a bit green and she'll be better on a sounder surface. She will have a rest now and maybe go to Aintree for the bumper there.
"It's my first ever runner here and she only cost 2,000 euros. I've just got the two horses, I'm a permit holder and a pig farmer by day. We enjoy doing it like this."
King had suffered plenty of ill fortune earlier in the day with a number of his runners coming to grief and he thought his luck was out again.
He said: "I thought I was beat so we will take a dead-heat. I've had some strange days in racing but none like this. I thought this would go against me so we'll take a dead-heat."
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Source: At The Races