Richard Patrick had to survive a few anxious moments before celebrating a second Cheltenham victory aboard Storm Control in the Unibet Handicap Chase.
Having ridden out his claim on the Kerry Lee-trained gelding at the track last month, Patrick made it two wins from as many outings on the seven-year-old in the Grade Three.
The 5-1 shot, having jumped the last in front, attempted to stop half-way up the run-in, only to pick up again once joined by eventual second Potters Legend and favourite Court Maid, eventually prevailing by a length.
Patrick said: “I panicked a little bit, but once he heard them come behind him, he picked up again and he was good and brave, but it was a long half-furlong!
“I don’t think he was emptying. He was just waiting for something to come to him and, to be fair, he did it last time and he just half waited for them. He was in front where we needed him to be.
“He had gone a long way out in front and he was just getting a bit lonely and I’m sure if there was a fence between the last and the line, it would have helped him out.
“It is only the second time I’ve ridden him, but he means a lot to me.”
Tom Buckley heaped praise on Breffniboy (15-2) following the Catesby Handicap Hurdle, with the Johnny Farrelly-trained six-year-old completing a four-timer as he gave the rider his first win at the track.
Buckley said: “I lost my 7lb claim on him at Kempton and it is another achievement to have my first winner around here on him.
“After the last I thought I might get second, but the further he went, the more chance I thought I had of winning. He has come to the best track of all and come up against some good horses and he has done it nicely.”
After 32 failed attempts, Alan Johns finally celebrated a winner at the track courtesy of 33-1 shot Madera Mist in the CF Roberts Electrical & Mechanical Services Mares’ Handicap Chase.
Johns said: “It’s been a long road, but I’m delighted. It’s job done now. We all want to win here, so it doesn’t matter if it’s empty or full, it’s just nice to have a winner here.”
Of the Tim Vaughan-trained winner, he added: “We have been making the running with her, she just does too much, but she switched off behind and that is what has worked.”
Tom George may no longer be able to call on Noel Fehily’s services in the saddle, but the pair celebrated another victory together as Come On Teddy (11-2) stormed to victory by five and a half lengths in the Citipost Handicap Hurdle.
George said: “It is lovely to get a winner for Noel Fehily’s racing syndicate as we had some big days together down the years, as you know.
“I bumped into Noel in the summer and said ‘you have all these horses with other trainers, but not me’ and he said I hadn’t offered him one and the only one I had was this one.
“He is a progressive horse and it was a novelty to have one at the right end of the weights.”
Happygolucky (13-8 favourite) showed stamina is his forte as he returned to winning ways in the International Decorative Surfaces Novices’ Chase.
Moving into a decisive advantage between the last two fences, Kim Bailey’s charge kept on gamely to hold the fast-finishing The Mighty Don by three and three-quarter lengths.
Bailey said: “I’m very pleased as he jumped very well. He is a proper trainer’s horse as he is not very big, but just a very athletic individual.
“He got there far too soon. He got a long one at the third last and landed in front, which he shouldn’t have done. He was committed really and he got lonely in front. He has done well.
“I’d certainly like to be here back in March (at the Festival), but what in I don’t know. He would stay as long as you want probably. A lot will depend on what the ground is like.”
Make Me A Believer (16-5) demonstrated a tenacious attitude on his first start since undergoing a wind operation to deny the hat-trick seeking Any News by a length in the British EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
Trainer David Pipe said: “What I liked today was that he looked beat, but he fought back. I would imagine he would probably be going back up in trip. He has got a nice bit of ability and he looks to have a good attitude there.
“He will be back at the Festival one year, whether it is next year I don’t know.”