Baron Alco galloped on resolutely to win an incident-packed race for the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
The seven-year-old kept out of trouble close to the front, as several horses crashed out along the way, to lift the valuable prize for trainer Gary Moore and his son, Jamie, who was a late replacement for another son, Josh, in the saddle.
Baron Alco took his turn with pacemaking duties and only Frodon stood between the Moore runner and victory at the business end, with the 8-1 chance sticking on gamely to hold the Bryony Frost-ridden runner-up by two lengths.
Guitar Pete stayed on strongly for third, with 6-1 favourite Mister Whitaker fourth.
Whoshotwho fell at the first and that led to more as the race unfolded, with the well-fancied Kalandra coming down at the fifth-last fence, while at the fourth-last, Willie Boy, Happy Diva exited. Rather Be was another leading contender to go.
Moore said: “The horse is all heart. To be quite honest I was going to take him out, as I thought the ground was quick enough. Thank goodness the owners talked me into running him.
“They (horse and winning rider) are made for each other. I couldn’t be more pleased. He picked up a suspensory injury here in 2016, but the form stacked up and it was a brilliant run that day.
“I was nervous about running today, as this is where he picked up that injury.”
Stablemate Benatar was declared a non runner on the morning of the race, and Moore added: “I feel sorry for Josh.
“He would have ridden Baron Alco if both horses had run, but he has already had a good winner this season (Traffic Fluide in the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot).”
He went on: “That (jumping) is what won him the race, they are both very bold – the jockey and horse – and they just kept out of the way.
“It’s massive for the yard. We’ve won two nice races so far this season. It has always been my ambition to get more than £1million in prize money in a season jumping and that helps towards it.
“If we get to a quarter of a million before Christmas it will be all right.
“He is all heart and just does what you want him to do. He has got a great mind as well and if you saw him standing in the saddling box he was as solid as a rock.
“He could get an entry in the Caspian Caviar (Gold Cup, at Cheltenham in December) as the entries close next week.
“That would be the obvious thing to do.”
The winning rider, who picked up a two-day suspension for his use of the whip, said: “He’s a horse I like a lot. During the week it was hard for me to choose between him and Benatar who to ride. Benatar was a non runner, so I got on him.
“Josh would have ridden him and he’d have done the same job. Josh took a fall yesterday. Hopefully he’s all right.
“He’s not very big at all. He’s better off out in front and if a horse comes to him, he’ll always rally.
“He always tries and digs very deep.”
Delighted owner John Stone said: “I’ve owned horses for 30 years and this is a real highlight.
“It really is fantastic. I kept thinking something was going to happen, because horse races aren’t won like this, are they?”
Frost, who recently lost her riding claim, said of Frodon: “It was a massive run from him. He is as brave as a lion. You can see big things coming from this little horse with how he has run today. I’m absolutely over the moon with him.
“He has got a very wise head on him for a horse that has not got many years behind him. He is just a pleasure to ride and I’m thankful the owners have let me kept the ride.”
His trainer Paul Nicholls said: “That was probably a career best. It was an awesome run. We have a dilemma now as we will probably have to step up into better races.
“Bryony said he might end up winning a Grade One this season. Last season he was just a bit below it, but he has obviously improved. The other one just got a run on him, but he was still closing all the time.
“The Peterborough Chase might be the obvious option for him. We did put him in the Sefton and we thought that might be quite a nice race, but that might be too much of an ask off top weight.
“Races in the spring like the Ascot Chase and Ryanair and those sort of races will be for him.”