Harambe bounced back to form with a game display to land the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Having disappointed on his seasonal debut five weeks ago, Alan King’s six-year-old was sent off a 16-1 chance for this valuable contest under Tom Bellamy – and those who kept the faith were rewarded.
Lizzie Kelly attempted to make all the running on Monsieur Lecoq and did not give up the lead without a fight.
Gumball and Quoi De Neuf joined in as four horses battled it out, but it was Harambe, who crossed the line a neck to the good.
Gumball was second, with Monsieur Lecoq a neck away in third and Quoi De Neuf a further length and a quarter back in fourth.
Joint-owner Niall Farrell said: “He had a bit of blip last week and we took our time with him. He did a bit of work during the week and we took our chance. He is a lovely horse that we brought through from the stores.
“We’ve had him since a baby and brought him through bumpers, novice hurdles and handicaps. We thought it would be a nice opportunity and we hoped we would get here. It was going well until last week, but I couldn’t be happier.
“It’s a bit like everything else, time and patience with a good team behind him and they have done a super job. It will be interesting when he goes over a fence.”
He added: “This is huge. Coming here and having a runner is brilliant. To have a winner in the Greatwood, which is a huge race, is brilliant.
“I’ve been with Alan nearly 15 years now and that’s his 98th winner for me.”
Bellamy said: “I’m absolutely chuffed for the horse as much as anything. We’ve always known he had plenty of ability, but we were just waiting for it to come right on the day and it has today.
“It’s massive. I had a winner at the last Cheltenham meeting in October and that meant a lot, but a big race like today, a Grade Three, is great.
“It was his first big handicap, and I thought, ‘ride him to run well and anything else is a bonus’. He was running well and the bonus happened.
“Today was a big step forwards for him, so hopefully it is onwards and upwards.”