West Cork shrugged off a 631 day absence to fend off heavyweight Adagio and land the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Trained by Dan Skelton and ridden by his champion jockey brother Harry, West Cork had to dig deep into the Grade Three feature film – but the 11-1 winner had enough in hand to take the £ 56,270 first prize.
No Ordinary Joe made his way to the lead by crossing the finish line for the first time and was still there as the field turned home, even though it looked like there were plenty of them behind with their races still to run.
West Cork was one of those who traveled well and when Skelton asked him he moved to take the lead by skipping the last one before setting sail for home.
However, Adagio was just hitting top gear under his 11st 12lb welterweight and made a fight, challenging between West Cork and the No Ordinary Joe game, but West Cork held out.
The Skeltons were celebrating a second high profile winner the day after Nube Negra lifted the Shloer Chase.
But the brothers had suffered some notable setbacks with Protektorat narrowly beaten in Saturday’s Paddy Power Gold Cup and chase hope My Drogo suffering a high-profile start in a two-horse chase on Friday.
Skelton lost his whip on the way to victory but still waved to the crowd as he passed the pole.
He said, “At the last one I slapped him and he gave the last one a foot, I went to get him (whip) and he took the back of my knee, but he was always holding on. His ears were straight and I knew I had a lot left in the tank.
“At home he was working very well, but I’m happy. What a performance in training.
“I’m a lucky guy to run for a fantastic team, led by a great leader like my brother.”
An elated Dan Skelton said: “It must be my best time ever on a racecourse.
“We decided to bring this guy just two or three weeks ago when we decided that Nube Negra were in the running and we had nothing for Greatwood.
“It was Harry who suggested this guy. He did a job two weeks ago with Protektorat and then did one last week with Nube Negra who was obviously way above 134. It was probably a tip that he ran into a handicap after working with those two.
“I’m happy for Mike Newbould. He had been in racing for 40 years and he hadn’t had a winner at Cheltenham, now he’s had two big ones at the November bout and that’s what it’s all about, the dreams.
“It’s just fantastic, it was one of the greatest emotions I’ve experienced on a racecourse, especially after Nube. You think you have to get off – being up there an extra half hour is magical.
“We’ll worry about what’s next when it comes to this. I’m just happy.”