Gary Moore grabbed his first victory in the feature G3 £160,000 BetVictor Gold Cup with Baron Alco, ridden by Moore's son Jamie at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Baron Alco (8/1) won by two lengths from Frodon (16/1), with Guitar Pete (12/1) another eight lengths back in third. Mister Whitaker (6/1f), was a further three-quarters of a length behind, fourth of the 18 runners in an incident-packed race.
Baron Alco spent the 2017/18 season on the sidelines after injuring a suspensory ligament when finishing second in the Brown Advisory and Merribelle Stable Plate Handicap at The Festival supported by Magners in 2017. He was runner-up by a head to the Kim Bailey-trained Charbel on his reappearance at Chepstow in October.
Sussex-based Gary Moore said: "It's testament to the horse, really, and everyone involved, as the horse is all heart to come back. I'll be quite honest, I wanted to take him out because I thought the ground was quick enough for him and thank God the owner talked me into running him. Thank God he knows more about it than me!
"He and Jamie are made for each other. I couldn't be more pleased. He picked up a suspensory injury here in 2017, but the form stacked up - it was a brilliant run that day and on that form you had to give him a chance today."
Gary's son Josh was originally supposed to ride the horse, but Jamie came in for the ride after Moore withdrew his other runner, Benatar. "I feel sorry for Josh," said Moore. "He would have ridden Baron Alco if both horses had run, but he has already had a good winner this season [Traffic Fluide in the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot recently]."
Owner John Stone said: "I've owned horses for 30 years and this is a real highlight. It really is fantastic. I kept thinking something was going to happen, because horse races aren't won like this, are they?"
Richard Patrick, brought down on Happy Diva four out, and Tom Scudamore, unseated from King's Socks three out, were both taken to hospital to be further assessed for injuries.ho took the ride on Baron Alco from his brother Josh after his original mount, Benatar, was withdrawn, said: "He's a very genuine horse, only tiny but he jumps from fence to fence. It is hard to make the running here, but watching the races yesterday and today it is clear that it suits front-runners.
"He had a lot in his favour by making the running, and I notice that Frodon, who was up there with him all the way, finished second, so it was obviously the right place to be. I could hear Frodon coming at me on the run-in, and that is how we were beaten at Chepstow last time out - a horse came late there and beat me, whereas if the challenge comes earlier my horse will battle back again.
"Dad is a master trainer - Traffic Fluide won a decent race for us recently over three miles and yet Dad will have winners on the Flat at Kempton and Lingfield all winter. He has winners at Royal Ascot. He gave this horse time off last year and got him back to run at Chepstow.
"He ran well there, but it just shows how tough he is because horses can often 'bounce' after a run off a long break, yet this horse has gone and won this race. That's a credit to Dad and to Josh [Jamie's brother, and like him a jockey] who is a big part of this victory, too."
Moore received a two-day ban for using his whip above the permitted level on the winner.
Baron Alco in action today, picture Cheltenham Racecourse
The Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon (16/1) is one of the most consistent horses in training and he proved that once again this afternoon with a fine second to 8/1 shot Baron Alco in the £160,000 G3 BetVictor Gold Cup.
Frodon, carrying top-weight of 11st 12lb and ridden by Bryony Frost who no claims, kept on gamely after the last to finish two lengths behind the Gary Moore-trained winner.
Frost commented: "Frodon is a super horse. He has run his heart out for me again this afternoon. "He jumped and travelled really well and to run like that off a big-weight shows what a quality horse he is.
"Frodon is a pleasure to ride and I'm pleased he's run another big race this afternoon. He is a young horse but very wise in between those ears.
"Sometimes, they can't get in front but he has given me everything and you can be so proud of him. He is young horse but very wise between the ears in the way that he jumps and travels.
"It's a massive honour for the owners to have the loyalty and for Paul to have the confidence to keep me on him. It honestly means the world to go out there and gallop a horse like him.
"He is braver than me. When you have a horse that wants to win as much as he does, it's what racehorses are there for."
Ditcheat handler Nicholls said: "Frodon has run a really good race. Baron Alco got a run on him, but he was closing all the way to the line.
"He had to carry a lot of weight, but it is another great run. We'll step him up in grade now.
"The Peterborough Chase could be something for him. We'll make a plan and he will want a month off as he had a hard race today."
Nicky Richards saddled 12/1 chance Guitar Pete to finish a further eight lengths behind in third. "Guitar Pete's run very well", said Cumbrian-based Richards. "It was an eventful race but we're very pleased with him."
Jack Channon, assistant trainer to his father Mick, was pleased with the run of Mister Whitaker, the 6/1 favourite, who finished a further three-quarters of a length back in fourth.
He commented: "Mister Whitaker ran a great race. I think he would prefer softer ground, but it was a belting run in such a tough and competitive handicap event."
2.25pm £160,000 BetVictor Gold Cup 2m 4f 44y
1 Baron Alco (FR) Gary Moore 10st 11lb Jamie Moore 8/1
2 Frodon (FR) (Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 12lb Bryony Frost 16/1
3 Guitar Pete (IRE) Nicky Richards 10st 2lb Brian Hughes 12/1
4 Mister Whitaker (IRE) Mick Channon 11st 3lb Adrian Heskin 6/1 Fav
5 Eamon An Cnoic (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) David Pipe 10st 0lb David Noonan 50/1
6 Javert (IRE) Emma Lavelle 11st 1lb Adam Wedge 25/1
FELL 1ST Whoshotwho (IRE) Dr Richard Newland 10st 0lb Sean Bowen 33/1
UR 1ST Romain de Senam (FR) (Hood, Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 10st 3lb Harry Cobden 16/1
UR 12TH Kalondra (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Neil Mulholland 10st 13lb Noel Fehily 13/2
FELL 4 OUT Willie Boy (IRE) Charlie Longsdon 10st 1lb Richie McLernon 33/1
BD 4 OUT Rather Be (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 0lb Jeremiah McGrath 7/1
BD 4 OUT Happy Diva (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Kerry Lee 10st 2lb Richard Patrick (3) 25/1
UR 3 OUT King's Socks (FR) (Tongue Strap) David Pipe 10st 4lb Tom Scudamore 12/1
FELL LAST Movewiththetimes (IRE) Paul Nicholls 10st 5lb Barry Geraghty 10/1
UR LAST Shantou Village (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Neil Mulholland 10st 8lb Robert Dunne 33/1
PU AFT 9TH West Approach (Blinkers) Colin Tizzard 10st 7lb Richard Johnson 9/1
PU BEF 2 OUT Splash of Ginge Nigel Twiston-Davies 10st 6lb Jamie Bargary 20/1
PU BEF 2 OUT Ballyandy Nigel Twiston-Davies 10st 2lb Sam Twiston-Davies 12/1
Non-Runners: BENATAR ((Self Certificate, Blood Analysis Not Normal), GEORDIE DES CHAMPS (Self Certificate, Bruised Foot)
Distances: 2, 8, ¾, nk, 6
Tote: Win: £9.40 Places: £2.50, £4.10, £3, £2.10 Exacta: £160.80
Winning Owner: John Stone
Breeder: Yves D'Armaille
Breeding: 7 ch g Dom Alco (FR) - Paula (FR) (Network (GER))