Paisley Park claimed his third successive victory in the Cleeve Hurdle with an astonishing run that saw him almost left at the start.
The Emma Lavelle-trained gelding won the staying feature in both 2019 and 2020 before his 2021 bid for a treble was scuppered due to waterlogging – and this latest tilt looked well and truly blighted, too, as he spun round and lost lengths on the field.
Gradually eased back into it by Aidan Coleman, the 5-1 chance – winner of the Stayers' Hurdle in 2019 – jumped the last level with favourite Champ and powered up the hill to register a three-and-a-quarter-length success that had at one stage looked an impossibility.
Nicky Henderson’s Champ was the eventual runner-up, with Rebecca Curtis’ Lisnagar Oscar third.
"He’s tried that a few times, he has that in him – I was waiting for him and he still did it. I thought I was doing enough, but he’s just probably getting a bit older and a bit wiser," Coleman said of Paisley Park’s start.
"He’s a very good horse, people have been writing him off this year. This is really special, the longevity of this horse is just a testament to his ability and his character. This is his track, I know he’s won two Long Walks at Ascot, but he’s won three Cleeves now and a Stayers’.
"I said to Paddy (Brennan) at the top of the hill that I was still in it, even though I’d whipped around. They weren’t getting away from me and I knew he’d hit the line. He’s just different around this track, regardless of what goes before or after, this is just very special.
"It’s very special for a multitude of reasons, mainly just how much of a champion he is."
Paisley Park bounces back to form with a vengeance as he wins a third successive Grade 2 Welsh Marches Stallions At @ChapelStud Cleeve Hurdle, storming home with an irresistible charge to score under @AidanColeman for trainer @ELavelleracing 🏆👏 pic.twitter.com/xUYzaa3fPq— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) January 29, 2022
Chantry House (5-6F) booked his Gold Cup ticket as he returned to winning ways with a hard-earned success in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase.
After being pulled in the King George when sent off favourite at Kempton Park over Christmas, the Nicky Henderson-trained gelding had a point to prove as he lined up under Nico de Boinville for the five-runner affair.
The eight-year-old travelled only moderately at times, inching into the lead as his rivals tired before staying on in determined fashion for a two-and-a-half-length victory.
Former stablemate Santini kept him honest up the hill for new trainer Polly Gundry, with Harriet Graham's Aye Right taking third place under Callum Bewley.
The triumph was equally notable as a 4,000th winner for owner JP McManus.
Chantry House regains the winning thread with victory in the Grade 2 @paddypower Cotswold Chase, powering on to score in the hands of @NdeBoinville for trainer @sevenbarrows 🥇— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) January 29, 2022
The eight-year-old also becomes the 4000th winner for owner JP McManus 👏 pic.twitter.com/eBv2P4bvIS
Pied Piper (11-8F) strengthened Gordon Elliott's formidable hand in the juvenile division with a hugely impressive victory in the JCB Triumph Trial.
Carrying the same colours as Fil Dor, who will put his unbeaten record on the line at Leopardstown next weekend, Pied Piper was favourite to claim Grade Two honours following a narrow victory on his hurdling debut at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve.
A dual winner on the Flat for John Gosden, the son of New Approach appeared to have plenty on his plate with Kempton scorer Iceo and course and distance winner Interne De Sivola among his rivals.
But after being settled at the rear for much of the way, Pied Piper cruised into contention before easing clear under a motionless Davy Russell to score by nine lengths – to take over from Fil Dor as Triumph Hurdle favourite, although that might not be his ultimate destination, with the Supreme Novices' Hurdle also under consideration.
Horses just don't win like this too often...— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) January 29, 2022
PIED PIPER 😲pic.twitter.com/lToVvfWbJS
North Lodge (7-1) is unbeaten in two runs after triumphing in a dramatic renewal of the Grade Two Ballymore Novices' Hurdle.
The race was incident-strewn from the off, with hurdles missed out due to the low sun and Harpers Brook coming down early on and hampering Henry Daly’s favourite Hillcrest, who jinked and unseated Richard Patrick.
Joined by Nicky Henderson’s Balco Coastal up the hill, the Alan King-trained North Lodge then drifted across the track on the run to the line, slightly impeding the Seven Barrows runner, who was eventually beaten by two and a half lengths.
After a stewards’ inquiry the placings remained unaltered and King’s charge added a Cheltenham success to his prior hurdle win at Aintree in early December.
North Lodge survives a stewards' enquiry to win a dramatic Grade 2 @ballymore Novices' Hurdle, gaining the verdict despite veering across his rival late on to make it two from two for trainer Alan King under the guidance of @adrianheskin 🥇 pic.twitter.com/BBq2Kh7mNh— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) January 29, 2022