Back On The Lash stayed on strongly up the hill to win a thrilling race for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.
After 32 fences and three and three-quarter miles, it was the Martin Keighley-trained seven-year-old who got up in the final half-furlong to land the spoils in the hands of Sean Bowen.
Back On The Lash, who was backed down to 4-1 favourite, was never too far off the pace set by Potters Corner and Alpha Des Obeaux – but he was only fourth jumping the second-last fence.
Diesel D’Allier, the winner in 2019, led at that point and looked like landing the honours for a second time, only to give way in the closing stages.
The race developed into a duel on the climb home between Back On The Lash and Singing Banjo, with the former prevailing by a neck.
Diesel D’Allier was a length and a half back in third followed by the Henry de Bromhead-trained pair of Plan Of Attack and Balko Des Flos.
“He’s just a novice chaser, but we took him schooling a few times around Cheltenham and he just seemed to absolutely love it,” Keighley said.
“We thought we’d give it a go and Sean’s ride was just outstanding.
“I thought it was a really good performance, the trip was a big question mark but he made it really well.
“He’s so tough, his jumping for a novice was perfect. We’re very, very pleased.
“He’ll be aimed at coming back here (Cheltenham) for the cross country at the December meeting, definitely.”