Two-time Grand National winner Tiger Roll claimed a remarkable fifth Cheltenham Festival triumph with victory in the Cross Country Chase.
The 11-year-old, ridden by Keith Donoghue, put recent defeats behind him to score by 18 lengths from Easysland.
Tiger Roll (9-2) won for Denise Foster, who has stepped in while trainer Gordon Elliott serves a six-month ban.
Put The Kettle On took the Queen Mother Champion Chase as odds-on favourite Chacun Pour Soi finished third.
The 17-2 winner, ridden by Aidan Coleman for trainer Henry de Bromhead, prevailed by half a length from runner-up Nube Negra.
It sealed a big-race double for De Bromhead after Honeysuckle’s Champion Hurdle win on Tuesday and was part of an Irish sweep of the first five races on St Patrick’s Day.
The Tiger roars again
The diminutive Tiger Roll cemented his place as a little legend of racing by winning the Cross Country Chase for the third time to add to Festival wins in the Triumph Hurdle and National Hunt Chase.
Nearing veteran status, there had been calls for the horse to be retired after recent lacklustre runs, but he was back to his best here, jumping beautifully and travelling sweetly throughout.
“It’s unbelievable. If it wasn’t for this horse I wouldn’t be riding. Never underestimate the Tiger,” said emotional winning jockey Donoghue.
“We know the horse he is. He loved it and that’s the Tiger we see at home. He is just a legend.”
Tiger Roll had been due to bid for a record-equalling third Grand National at Aintree last year before the race was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
He was withdrawn from this year’s race, which is on 10 April, with owner Michael O’Leary stating he was unhappy with the weight his horse had been allocated despite his previous form in the race.
The decision came during the fall-out from a photo emerging of Elliott sitting astride a dead horse, which saw him suspended for six months.
Put The Kettle On steams in
Chacun Pour Soi was sent off the 8-13 favourite for Willie Mullins in the Champion Chase, but Put The Kettle On just comes to the boil at Cheltenham.
The seven-year-old mare, winner of last year’s Arkle Chase, got the best of a thrilling finish to clock up a fourth course and distance victory.
“It was just a thrill. She’s the toughest mare I’ve ever ridden and maybe one of the toughest mares there has ever been,” said Coleman.
Last year’s winner Politologue was withdrawn before the start.
Blackmore double as Irish dominate on day two
Rachael Blackmore, fresh from Tuesday’s historic Champion Hurdle triumph on Honeysuckle, enjoyed a double as the Irish won six of Wednesday’s seven races.
She landed the concluding Champion Bumper with Sir Gerhard, recently moved from Elliott to Willie Mullins, and the opening Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on Bob Olinger for De Bromhead.
Monkfish, under Paul Townend, took the novice chase for Mullins and is now 5-1 favourite for next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The 33-1 outsider Heaven Help Us, ridden by Richie Condon, landed the Coral Cup for Paul Hennessy, a Greyhound Derby-winning trainer who only has two horses.
And there was one victory for a trainer based in England, albeit an Irishman, when Jonjo O’Neill’s Sky Pirate was guided to victory by Nick Scholfield in the Grand Annual Chase.
The unbeaten Envoi Allen is hot favourite for Thursday’s opening Marsh Novices’ Chase and one punter will be following the action closer than most.
Paul Dean stands to win £511,000 from a £5 bet if the highly-rated chaser, now trained by De Bromhead after a switch from Elliott, lands the final leg of a five-horse accumulator.
Paisley Park, the 2019 winner named after Prince’s recording studio, bids to regain his Stayers’ Hurdle title.
The nine-year-old has recovered from a heart scare after being beaten last year and will be cheered on from home by owner Andrew Gemmell, who has been blind since birth.
Allaho, Melon, Min and Tornado Flyer form a formidable team for Mullins in the Ryanair Chase.