Sire Du Berlais led home a Gordon Elliott one-two as he recorded back-to-back victories in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Continuing a fine Festival for Elliott as well as jockey Barry Geraghty and owner JP McManus, Sire Du Berlais (10-1) was revitalised by wearing blinkers for the first time.
The Storyteller, Sire Du Berlais and Tout Les Permis jumped the last virtually together, and it was the first two from the Elliott stable who pulled away.
Sire Du Berlais, carrying top-weight, got on top close home to land the spoils by half a length. Tout Les Permis was six and half lengths away in third place, with Third Wind fourth and Relegate a never-nearer fifth.
When asked which one he was shouting for, Elliott said: “I didn’t care, both of them ran well and the horses are running out of their skin.
“He won it a bit easier than last year, the blinkers help him travel that bit better.
“I’ll have to talk to the owners and see what he does next. The Storyteller ran a brilliant race too and had no excuses. I’d imagine we could look at Punchestown for both.”
Geraghty said: “I know he’d 11st 9lb last year, but even with 11st 12lbs he had a chance. The Storyteller was the horse I was afaid of. I had to push the ears of him most of the race last year, but he travelled great this year and I could ride a race and was able to deliver.
“There’s nothing better than riding winners at Cheltenham.”
There was a sad postcript to the race, as it was announced Copper Gone West had suffered a fatal injury.
Her trainer Tim Vaughan said: “She broke an offside fetlock. She was travelling like a dream, but something must have gone wrong going down the hill.
“It’s devastating. She was a nice progressive horse who had long-term broodmare prospects.”
Simply The Betts gave Harry Whittington a first Cheltenham Festival winner when lifting the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase.
After going close this week with Rouge Vif (third) in the Arkle and Saint Calvados (second) in the Ryanair, also for owners Kate and Andrew Brooks, Whittington finally graced the winner’s enclosure with Gavin Sheehan in the plate.
Simply The Betts (100-30 favourite) stayed out of trouble in front, together with last year’s winner Siruh Du Lac.
In a dramatic race, Royal Village and La Bague Au Roi fell out in the country, while Siruh Du Lac came down two out, bringing down Imperial Presence and hampering several others.
Simply The Betts surrendered the lead to Happy Diva at the last, but fought his way back to the lead to score by a length and a quarter. Mister Whitaker was a length and three-quarters away in third, with Oldgrangewood fourth.
Whittington said: “It’s about everyone else, I’m thrilled for them. We’ve had five goes this week and been getting closer and now we’ve got there.
“It’s been a great team effort, Laura Collett (eventer) has done lots of work with him over his jumping.
“I wouldn’t know what we’d do next, but he’s a proper horse. He’s still improving, but he’s had some hard races this season. Today he was a little bit behind the bridle, whereas in January he was hard on it the whole way.
“I’m just so proud of him, but I don’t know what we’ll do know, he’s hard three hard races since Christmas. We’ll let the dust settle.”
Milan Native claimed a length-and-three-quarter success in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase to provide Elliott with a treble on the day.
The seven-year-old took the wide route around the final bend after gaining ground from the middle of the field, jumping into second place over the last obstacle before picking off last year’s runner-up Kilfilum Cross to succeed at 9-1 under Robert James.
Henry Oliver’s Kilfilum Cross was again second best, with the Warren Greatrex-trained Bob Mahler a further length and a half behind.
Elliott said: “This race has been the plan for the last few weeks for this horse, especially after we decided to run Ravenhill in the other race (National Hunt Chase).
“It’s a race we like to win and Rob gave him a great ride. We decided we wanted to claim off him and he’s very good value for his 7lb.
“He’s a top rider and a top man.”