Emotions ran high for John Hales following Politologue’s decisive victory in the Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on Wednesday, a third success in the contest for the owner following One Man in 1998 and Azertyuiop in 2004.

Hales revealed in the aftermath that his Maire Banrigh, who fell in Tuesday’s Arkle, had fractured a hock and had been taken to the local equine hospital.

“That was brilliant,” he said. “We dictated it from start to finish and Harry [Skelton] got things absolutely right. I said to Harry to make his own pace and I’m over the moon – a third Queen Mother.

“It’s wonderful after the bad news we had in the Arkle. [Maire Banrigh] will be okay but she was cruising [in the Arkle] and I knew she would have won that race but fate wasn’t with us.”

Not only was it a brilliant performance from the grey, it must go down as an enterprising ride from Harry Skelton on the Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old, having positioned his mount at the head of proceedings from the outset.

Politologue and Skelton pushed for home rounding the final bend and as favourite Defi Du Seuil faded dramatically, the pair extended their advantage to win by a comfortable nine and a half lengths from stable companion Dynamite Dollars.

Skelton added: “It was my first ride in the Champion Chase and I owe so much to the Hales family. They have known me since I was a little kid. Pat used to take me around all the [eventing] shows and they are very, very good supporters of the family. Me and Dan grafted at Paul’s for a long time and we will be ever grateful for what he has done for our careers.

“Paul told me at the start of the season to come back and ride out a little bit. It’s just magic. This is what he can do, he trains them to perfection. I am just so thankful to everyone for giving me the opportunity. I cannot believe it.

“Paul said to John that he was going to wait and go here fresh; he’s a master. You know his horses from the back of three out they won’t stop. He’s trained them for the day.

“I spent a long nine years at Paul’s grafting away, and every single day, every minute, every hardship, it’s been worth it. What the Hales family have done for our family – you couldn’t script it.

“It’s my third ride for them, and on the way down to the start I saw two magpies, and thought, perhaps this is it.”

French toast Easysland’s success

Fifteen years after their last Festival success, a French-trained runner was back in the winner’s enclosure when Easysland was a runaway winner of the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase.

David Cottin’s charge had caught the eye of many at Cheltenham in December when an impressive winner over course and distance. That number included JP McManus, who swooped to secure him in a private deal from the Yorton Racing Syndicate.

Up against the little legend Tiger Roll, Easysland and Jonathan Plouganou set for home exiting the bend and with the dual Grand National hero unable to make use of his turn of foot on the soft ground, they sealed a 19-length victory.

Champ pulls it out of the bag

Those attending Cheltenham on Wednesday witnessed a moment of pure brilliance in the Grade 1 RSA Novices’ Chase as Champ pulled off an unlikely victory, having looked well beaten prior to the last fence.

Minella Indo and Allaho, who had duelled in front throughout, looked to have the contest between them. It was the former who held the slight advantage until a mistake at the last left the door open for Allaho.

By this point, Champ had only just cleared the final fence but was still set to play a starring role as he began to surge up the famous Cheltenham hill. As he motored towards the finish line, he found a gap between the leading pair, pulling past to win by a length.

Not only had he left racegoers in disbelief, his trainer Nicky Henderson was equally amazed by the performance and said: “I thought we had come an honourable third and that was it, and had actually turned to see what was happening up front – I don’t know where he came from!

“I was stood behind Cheveley Park’s Chris Richardson and thought we had finished third to them. Suddenly Champ came into my sights. I thought, ‘what’s he doing here and how has he got here?’

“Nico [de Boinville] has done a lot of work with him, particularly in the indoor school, even yesterday morning he jumped half a dozen poles. Everyone has worked hard, it goes without saying, but Nico takes a lot of credit with this one.

“This is the first time he has been back to three miles since Aintree last year – I purposely went two and a half all season, and then we had that fall [at Cheltenham on January 1]. That really upset plans a bit.

“But we’ve done a lot of schooling at home – Barry has been over a few times and Nico has done a lot of work; he’s a wonderful schooling jockey.”

Winning jockey Barry Geraghty added: “I knew I had a chance on Champ turning in. But after jumping the second-last, I wasn’t making up any ground and was still struggling.

“I knew when I committed to pop the last fence, that the two in front of had not jumped brilliantly. On landing on the back of it, I was smelling money again!

“As soon as he picked up, I was about three lengths down by then and I knew it was over.”

Geraghty and Henderson combined in the race immediately after the RSA, the Grade 3 Coral Cup, with the JP McManus-owned Dame De Compagnie recording an impressive two and a quarter length success over Black Tears and Thosedaysaregone.

There was a fourth winner on the day for McManus when the Gordon Elliott-trained Aramax, under the drive of Mark Walsh, sealed the Grade 3 Boodles Juvenile Hurdle.

Envoi remains unbeaten 

An imperious performance from Envoi Allen in the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle saw the Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding remain unbeaten.

Envoi Allen cruised through the race and victory never looked in doubt as he beat his Gordon Elliott stablemate Easywork by four and a quarter lengths, with The Big Getaway a further three and three-quarters lengths back in third.

Elliott said: “He was our best chance of the week and everyone was here to see him. I was nervous the whole way through the race – I watched it with Colin Bowe, who trained him to win a point-to-point.

“I was asking him the whole way, ‘Will he stay? Will he stay?’ and he said that he would definitely stay, no bother. If I had picked the wrong race, I was going to blame him.

“This was the big one for the week. He’s is the people’s horse, and everyone wanted him to win. He is eight from eight now.”

The Cheveley Park Stud colours returned to the winner’s enclosure in the final race, the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, thanks to the Willie Mullins-trained Ferny Hollow.