Bryony Frost hailed her "amazing" Cheltenham Festival experience as she partnered Pacha Du Polder to a narrow victory in the St James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup.
Pacha Du Polder was famously fifth under Victoria Pendleton 12 months ago, but Frost took the reins this time and rode a confident race on the 10-year-old to lead home a one-two for trainer Paul Nicholls.
Balnaslow made a brave attempt to make all the running but Pacha Du Polder sneaked up his inside at the final fence and went on from there. Wonderful Charm, ridden by Katie Walsh, came from the clouds to take second place, beaten a neck, with Barrel Of Laughs another neck back in third and On The Fringe only fourth after winning the race for the previous two years.
David Davies / PA Wire
Bryony Frost and Pacha Du Polder, far side, on their way to winning the Foxhunters
Frost said: "It's hard to describe, it's an unbelievable feeling."I've watched people ride winners here, but to actually be here in this enclosure is amazing."To jump the last and know you're still travelling – and he tried all the way.
"I saw the head of Wonderful Charm and all I could think was 'don't deny me today'. I couldn't have asked for a better run, maybe a bit more forward but I've only been here once before and got a bit left at the start. This horse travelled, he jumped and he stayed on. He tried his heart out."Bangor was a lovely prep, he came here fresh and the connections filled me with confidence."
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Nicholls was delighted to gain his first win of the 2017 Festival and was full of praise for Frost's efforts in the plate. He said: "Everyone always expects plenty this week, it's been an amazing week.
"Saphir Du Rheu in the Gold Cup (fifth) gave me an amazing buzz and for young Bryony to ride him like that is great. She's Jimmy's (Frost, Grand National winner) daughter and to give these young girls chances is great."
David Davies / PA Wire
Victoria Pendleton, left, celebrates with Bryony Frost after her Foxhunters win
Nicholls added: "It was a huge relief to have a brilliant one-two and it must have given young Bryony an amazing buzz to give him a ride like that. I kept saying to myself that after his great effort last year he could win this, and Bryony has given the horse a wonderful ride.
"I told Andy (Stewart, owner) I wanted someone in the yard to ride him and that's what we did. Pacha will now go for the Aintree Fox Hunters' and along with Saphir, Wonderful Charm will go for the National."
Walsh said of Wonderful Charm: "I couldn't have kept any closer to the pace because he wasn't travelling, but he stayed on well up the hill." Alex Edwards rode Barrel Of Laughs and said: "He shows us a lot at home. He's run a blinder and I wasn't really surprised."
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photo Anton Vos
By Ian Chadband
By Alex Sharp