Stage Star upstages them all for Nicholls and Cobden.
The champion trainer had drawn a blank at the big meeting since Politologue won the Champion Chase in 2020, but it proved well worth the wait as Stage Star backed up his smart form this season to produce an excellent round of jumping and galloping.
An all-the-way winner in handicap company on Festival Trials day and a Grade One winner as a novice hurdler, he repeated the dose when it really mattered, moving back into top company with aplomb.
Sent immediately to the front by Harry Cobden, the 15-2 shot traded blows with Laura Morgan’s Notlongtilmay throughout, with the duo the only ones left in the mix after the last and the Ditcheat inmate pulling out more for a three-and-a-quarter-length success.
Odds-on favourite Mighty Potter travelled well for the majority, as did Willie Mullins’ Appreciate It, but both failed to pick up sufficiently at the business end, with the celebrations belonging to Nicholls, who took his Cheltenham tally to 47, and his jockey Cobden – himself ending a long four-year stay on the Festival cold list.