Energumene retained his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown at the Cheltenham Festival with a dominant 10-length win.
Paul Townend never looked fazed on the 6-5 favourite, who gave trainer Willie Mullins his 92nd Festival victory.
Captain Guinness was second to Energumene, who carries the blue and white colours of Brighton and Hove Albion owner Tony Bloom.
Bloom was thought to be the punter behind two bets totalling £600,000 on the horse to make a profit of £830,000.
“He has done me proud. He ran a magnificent race and totally deserved to win. We are so fortunate to have such an amazing horse. He didn’t run at his best last time out but has shown his class today,” said Bloom, who admitted to “having a few quid on”.
“We have a huge game against Crystal Palace tonight so I will focus on that now before Grimsby in the FA Cup this weekend.”
Energumene had only finished third to Editeur Du Gite and Edwardstone at Cheltenham in January, but there was no danger of a repeat as the 2022 winner put in a flawless display.
“He was perfect everywhere. He jumped brilliant. You don’t win champion races in that manner normally. He’s a pleasure to ride,” said Townend.
There was another 24 lengths back to Greaneteen in third, while Editeur Du Gite led before fading into fourth and Edwardstone was a distant fifth.
Townend was given a five-day suspension, which will be served after Cheltenham, for careless riding after his mount drifted left towards Captain Guinness and Editeur Du Gite and Captain Guinness on the bend entering the home straight.
Mullins had earlier claimed a 1-2-3 in the opening Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle as Impaire Et Passe (5-2) won by six and a half lengths under Townend from runner-up Gaelic Warrior and third-placed Champ Kiely.
The Real Whacker loves Cheltenham and, in his fourth race at the course, took his third victory – in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Steeplechase.
Sam Twiston-Davies just held on by a short head aboard the 8-1 chance from Gerri Colombe.
Winning trainer Paddy Neville had considered running his seven-year-old in Friday’s Gold Cup and he is a 20-1 shot for next year’s big race.
Langer Dan, ridden by Harry Skelton for his trainer brother Dan, landed the Coral Cup in a thrilling finish.
The 9-1 winner, who had been brought down when favourite for last year’s Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham, prevailed by a head from An Epic Song, with Camprond third and Scaramanga in fourth.
The Cross Country Chase was won for the second year running by Delta Work, who again denied a Gordon Elliott-trained stablemate.
Last year, Delta Work denied dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll a fairytale farewell, and this time he triumphed for jockey Keith Donoghue, with Galvin in second.
Darragh O’Keeffe earned a first Festival victory on 22-1 outside Maskada in the Grand Annual Chase as trainer Henry de Bromhead followed up Tuesday’s emotional win with Honeysuckle.
And the youngest jockey and the oldest trainer in the race combined for a fairytale success in the concluding Champion Bumper on 7-2 favourite A Dream To Share.
John Gleeson, 18, was having his first Festival ride, for 86-year-old John Kiely.
Gleeson’s father Brian, a racing broadcaster, bred A Dream to Share and sold the gelding to JP McManus.
That victory left Ireland 10-4 up on Great Britain for victories at the halfway stage of the meeting.
What’s on Thursday?
Shishkin, who was diagnosed with a rare bone condition after being pulled up in last year’s Champion Chase, goes in the Ryanair Chase after bouncing back to form with victory at Ascot last month for Nicky Henderson.
Flooring Porter and his boisterous band of supporters are seeking a hat-trick in the Stayers’ Hurdle after victories in 2021 and 2022.
Blazing Khal and Teahupoo are other leading contenders, while the 2019 winner Paisley Park, who runs for blind owner Andrew Gemmell, looks to regain his title after twice finishing third in the race.
13:30 – Turners Novices’ Chase, 2m 4f
14:10 – Pertemps Network Final (Handicap Hurdle), 3m
14:50 – Ryanair SChase, 2m 5f
15:30 – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, 3m
16:10 – Magners Plate (Handicap Chase), 2m 5f
16:50 – Jack de Bromhead Mares Novices’ Hurdle, 2m 1f
17:30 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Chase, 3m 2f
13:15-18:00 – BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra
Source – BBC Sport
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