Editeur Du Gite announced himself as a Champion Chase contender with a heroic performance in the Albert Bartlett Clarence House Chase.
Gary Moore’s nine-year-old was not in the original line-up for the Grade One contest when it was due to be run at Ascot seven days ago and was only added into the mix when connections stumped up £2,250 to supplement him for the rearranged race on Monday.
The contest was seen as star-studded clash between Willie Mullins’ Champion Chase hero Energumene and Alan King’s Arkle champion Edwardstone in the build up and although the headline acts failed to land the spoils, the race more than lived up to its billing.
The 14-1 winner took up his customary front-running role in the hands of Niall Houlihan and led the field along with the market principals willing to bide their time, Tom Cannon anchoring Edwardstone in rear with a target on Paul Townend and Energumene’s back.
But as was the case at Kempton at Christmas when Editeur Du Gite snatched the Desert Orchid Chase from the front, he was still striding on strongly when the field turned for home and alarm bells started to ring for the major players.
Townend required a big leap from Energumene to have any chance of victory at the last and when the Tony Bloom-owned nine-year-old put down, it left only Edwardstone to chase Houlihan and his willing mount up the Cheltenham hill.
Although Cannon edged his way to a narrow advantage with the line looming, Editeur Du Gite fought back just in time to secure a gutsy head success.
It was an emotional win for connections who tasted Champion Chase success with Sire De Grugy in 2014 and their latest two-mile chasing star was cut to 5-1 with both Paddy Power and Betfair for that Cheltenham Festival championship race.