Lac Fontana gives emotional Daryl Jacob a deserved success in the County
Jacob produced Lac Fontana (11-1) with a perfectly-timed run on the nearside rail to collar Arctic Fire up the hill and land the spoils by half a length.
Montbazon, who led over the final flight, was a length back in third with Diakali fourth.
Jacob, who had no luck at all in the Triumph Hurdle on the well-fancied Calipto and was visibly deflated afterwards, as he was when just touched off on Wednesday, said: "It's been a very testing week for us all.
"It's a good team effort from everyone and at the end of the day there can only be one winner. You can only keep looking forward.
"We're all thinking about the guys that are injured, like Jason (Maguire), Bryan (Cooper), now Ruby (Walsh) and of course JP (McNamara) but this is the place we all want to win."
He added of the winner: "He's very, very tough and he kept finding all the way."
Nicholls said: "It's been so frustrating (trying to get a winner during the week). Daryl probably needed that more than anyone really, he was on a real down and that will be just what he wanted.
"I told him to just get out there, put everything behind him and that this will win, you have to be positive.
"I told him he'll stay on up the hill and he gave him a peach.
"He's quite an emotional guy and you need a bit of luck, he'll be a different rider now.
"That was magic, just what we wanted."