Shantou Flyer stayed on through the increasing mud to beat Cheltenham stalwart Village Vic in the Grade 3 BetBright Best For Festival Betting Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.
With two non-runners, 11 set off on this two miles, five furlong trip, with perennial front-runner Village Vic soon leading from Tenor Nivernais and As De Mee.
As the field settled down with three fences negotiated, Village Vic lead from Tenor Nivernais and As De Mee, with Thomas Brown and Top Gamble well up with the pace, along with Henri Parry Morgan.
Last year’s winner Village Vic took the field down the home straight with a narrow advantage as the runners all cleared the seventh fence and headed out with a circuit to run, with Shutthefrontdoor under pressure and dropping to the back of the field.
Village Vic took the water with a length lead over Tenor Nivernais and then Henri Parry Morgan and to the outside Thomas Crapper, who had made plenty of ground. Thomas Brown raced close to the pace. Meanwhile, at the 13th, As De Mee made a bad mistake and was pulled up.
At the fourth last, Village Vic led from Thomas Crapper, while Henri Parry Morgan took a crashing fall.
The front two were clear over three out, with Shantou Flyer staying on powerfully and then Tenor Nivernais.
Village Vic turned for home in front but Shantou Flyetr on the inside came to challenge and landed narrowly in front two out and took the last about two lengths ahead of the long-time leader.
Shantou Flyer found plenty on the run-in for Aidan Coleman, beating the rallying Village Vic by about three length, with the staying on Top Gamble running really well in third, and then Tenor Nivernais in fourth.
This has been a terrific weekend for Rebecca Curtis, who won the Mandarin Chase on Saturday with Potters Cross and saw the 7 year old Shantou Flyer win on his debut for the yard, after a lengthy absence.
Curtis said: “That was nice, I was a bit worried as I thought he was on a high-enough mark (149) and I was a bit worried about the ground, but he handled it well enough.
“He jumped really well and came up the hill well. I’m delighted for Carl (Hinchy, owner) as he puts a lot of effort into the yard and if anyone deserves a winner here it’s him, it hasn’t been without trying.
“He came to us not long after the Galway Plate and we gave him a break until September.
“You look at him as a National horse as he stays so well, so maybe that’s the target.”