The Willie Mullins-trained Monkfish has justified a heavy favourites tag to win the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase, to give the Irish their second winner on St Patrick's Day.
However, the 1/4 favourite was far from perfect, with some worrying jumps in the early stages of the race, before the distraction of a loose horse caused him to clip the final fence when leading.
However Paul Townend steered the seven-year old home by a handful of lengths from long-shot Fiddlerontheroof in second.
Monkfish and Colin Tizzard's The Big Breakaway set the pace from the start, with the former's jumping costing him ground on a couple of occasions on the first circuit.
Townend made his move before the second last to edge a couple of lengths clear of Tizzard's other contender Fiddlerontheroof.
However the presence of the loose horse Eklat de Rire (he unseated Rachael Blackmore eight fences out) made things uncomfortable at the final obstacle, with Monkfish appearing to stumble, and Townend using all of his experience to avoid a famous Cheltenham upset.
The victory is a second of the week for the Townend-Mullins team, and a 74th festival win for the trainer, while Monkfish has added a second Cheltenham victory to his Albert Bartlett Novices' Chase 12 months ago.
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