Carlito digs deep to score at Cheltenham
Gordon Elliott struck at Cheltenham when Carlito Brigante again showed his liking for the track.
The 2011 Coral Cup winner had got his chasing career started at Killarney in the spring and luck was on the Michael O'Leary-owned gelding's side in the squareintheair.com Novices' Chase with Henry de Bromhead's long-time leader Go All The Way and the smooth-travelling Kingsmere coming down at the second-last fence.
This left Paul Nicholls' Domtaline, with Ruby Walsh on board, as the one to beat but under a power-packed drive from Davy Russell, Carlito Brigante (5/1) wore him down on the run-in and finished a short-head in front, surviving a stewards' inquiry when the pair got close.
"He seems to like Cheltenham and he has to have good ground, so I expect he'll come back here next month," Elliott said.
Russell came close to completing a double in O'Leary's colours aboard Sea Of Thunder in the staying novice chase, but this time Walsh exacted revenge on the Nicholls-trained Sire Collonges, running out a two-length victor.
"He's a hard horse to get fit and he has to have his races spaced out," Nicholls said of the 4/1 winner, which earned a 20/1 quote for the RSA Chase.
Richard Hughes took some time out from running away with the Flat jockeys' title to leg Bryan Cooper up aboard his father Dessie's Action Master (20/1), which came from a long way back to strike in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle qualifier.
"We were sick of the heavy ground in Ireland," said Hughes Snr. "He could come back for the Festival."
Most impressive winner of the day came in the opening novice hurdle in which the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained The New One (evens favourite) looked like a horse that's destined to return for the Festival.