Balthazar King survived an almighty blunder early in the race to gamely hold off Willie Mullins' Uncle Junior in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.

Despite his mistake at the third fence, Richard Johnson had Philip Hobbs' popular nine-year-old up with the pace throughout and dictated affairs from halfway.

Uncle Junior, who was seeking a third consecutive victory in the race, was given a very patient ride by Patrick Mullins but made up ground rapidly turning into the straight, looking the most likely winner.

Johnson had given Balthazar King a breather, however, and just had enough up his sleeve to win by a length as the 5-4 favourite. 

Hobbs said afterwards: "He's a very accurate jumper and he tries very hard, although at the third today he hit it very hard and he nodded at one or two others so he wasn't foot perfect.

"He just took off too far away and they were lucky to stay together.
"This is the race he has a chance to win as its a conditions race, the others are handicaps.

"He does have some options in France - not now, in the spring - and he may have a break."