Alvarado came with a storming late run to land a thrilling renewal of the Murphy Group Handicap Chase at Cheltenham for Fergal O’Brien.
Paul Moloney jumped the final fence in fifth on the eight-year-old, where Monbeg Dude looked sure to score a repeat victory only to meet it all wrong.
That allowed Godsmejudge, Bradley and Knockara Beau a chance to challenge again, but it was Alvarado who quickened up best of all.
The 12-1 chance won by two lengths from Knockara Beau with Bradley, a stablemate of the winner and second last year, in third and Monbeg Dude fourth.
“It was great to see Bradley coming back as we thought he’d lost his form, but Alvarado is a good horse – he’s quirky, but I said to Paul that he was as good as I can get him at home,” said O’Brien.
“Paul did great, he left him alone, and we got the right result. I wanted to go to the Becher Chase but the owners didn’t want to because of his jumping, so I’ll wait for the instructions from a higher authority. I’d like to go to the Becher with Bradley.”
Michael Scudamore said of Monbeg Dude: “I’m really proud of him, he galloped all the way to the line and we’ll look towards the Welsh National again.”
Return Spring came from the clouds to deny Paul Nicholls a one-two in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Hurdle.
All the way up the home straight the Nicholls duo of Salubrious and Southfield Theatre were going at it hammer and tongs, with the Festival winner Salubrious just getting the upper hand. However, after jumping the last Return Spring sprouted wings under James Best and Philip Hobbs’ six-year-old got up in the final stride to spring a 20-1 surprise.
An emotional Best said: “This means so much. I’ve been at Mr Hobbs’ six years now and I must thank him and the owner Mr Jones for letting me ride. Mr Hobbs has been so good to me. I thought I was beat.”
Sarah Hobbs, wife of the winning trainer, added: “I’m thrilled for James, nobody works harder than him.
“We had three in it and they were all in a line at the second-last and we didn’t know which one to cheer. Return Spring only just got in the handicap and it was a last-minute thing whether he even ran. The owner’s thrilled to bits, he had �5 each-way on!”
The six-year-old runs in the colours of David Jones, the father of actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.Read the rest of the story British Horseracing Authority News Headlines