Warthog battled back admirably to claim a narrow victory in an attritional renewal of the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.
David Pipe's grey had run a fine race to finish third in last month's BetVictor Gold Cup on his seasonal reappearance - and while he has previously struggled for consistency, he returned to Cheltenham towards the head of the market as a 7-1 chance under David Noonan.
The seven-year-old cut out much of the running four weeks ago and was once again ridden prominently, initially taking the 13-strong field along before taking a lead from outsider Imperial Presence.
As the latter faltered, Warthog was back in front before the home turn, but looked booked for minor honours once again after being joined and passed by 40-1 shot Spiritofthegames after the final fence.
However, with both horses tiring in the testing conditions, Warthog managed get back up and claim a thrilling contest by a head.
The Willie Mullins raider Robin Des Foret travelled strongly for a long way and was just three-quarters of a length behind the front pair in third.