Midnight Shadow benefited from the late fall of odds-on favourite Champ to claim the Paddy Power Broken Resolutions Already Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.
Winner of the Relkeel Hurdle on the card 12 months ago, the classy seven-year-old was winning for the first time over fences at the fourth attempt.
Champ appeared to have matters under control for Barry Geraghty, albeit he had put in a few less than perfect jumps on the way round.
Running down to the second last, Champ had a five-length advantage with those in behind hard at work, but it all went wrong as he put in a short stride and Geraghty was fired into the turf.
That left Midnight Shadow to pick up the pieces, but he jumped the last awkwardly and idled up the hill despite Danny Cook’s best efforts, allowing Paint The Dream to close to within a length and a quarter.
Cook told ITV Racing: “It looked like Barry had the race sewn up, but my lad was brilliant today.
“He relaxed really nicely, jumped from fence to fence, but just idled a bit after the last.
“We probably would have been a good second, but he was pulling himself up on the run-in.”
Geraghty said: “He was brilliant through the race, but running to the second last he was looking around a bit and met it wrong.
“It was a novicey fall. He seemed to get up OK, so hopefully he’s fine.”
Nicky Henderson said of Champ: “Barry said he was having a lovely time and then he just took his eye of the ball. You come off that bend and there are a lot of things to look at and he had been in front long enough.
“We felt we needed to make the race a bit more honest for him today as he does stay and you didn’t want a sprint. He was enjoying himself and he jumped beautifully. I thought he jumped the best he has done this season.
“He had it totally under control and he said he was full of petrol. They catch them at the end and take them to the stable, but I’ve been told he is fine.
“We’ve got to re-school him, but I was not planning on running him again after today (until Cheltenham) and just stepping him up to three miles, which is what he wants. Whether we go and run him over three miles, I don’t know (before Cheltenham), we will just have to see as there are places we can go.
“(The) Reynoldstown (at Ascot) and things like that could come into the equation. You hardly want to come into it (RSA) on the back of that, but there are a million ways of skinning the cat and we will just have to decide how to skin this one.
“It’s just annoying more than anything else, but as long as he is all right, which we think he is, and Barry is all right we will have to put it down to the new year!”
Sue Smith was delighted with the winner, nonetheless.
She said: “I think they were all starting to tire a little bit. The other horse (Champ) was a confirmed three-miler and ours isn’t at this minute in time and the ground was pretty testing out there.
“You can’t ask for more from him, but you would like one or two more like him.
“We will probably speak to the owner first, as the horse will take a bit of time to get over this as it is quite testing ground out there. Hopefully we will come back here in March, but there is a long way between now and then.”