Gordon Elliott paid tribute to those involved with Samcro on a daily basis as the eight-year-old returned to form to deny Melon by a nose in a thrilling edition of the Grade 1 Marsh Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on Thursday.

This year’s renewal featured the great Faugheen, who had won the 2015 Champion Hurdle, as well as his Willie Mullins stablemate Melon, twice a runner-up in the two-mile showpiece.

It was Melon who held the advantage as the field turned for home but Samcro was always in the picture and took some rousing by jockey Davy Russell at the final fence. That jump put them in the lead only for Melon to battle back in the final yards as the pair crossed the finish line together.

A photo finish was needed to confirm the result and it was Samcro who had taken the spoils ahead of Melon with Faugheen in third.

Elliott said: “You can see how much it means to everyone in the yard. All the girls and Jack Madden, who looks after him everyday, have done all the hard work with this horse.

“They have spent day and night trying to get this horse right. He hasn’t been scoping clean and it has been hard to get him to scope right – thankfully it has paid off today. As you know, we’ve built a new stable for Samcro and he lives outside.

“It’s great. Everyone was knocking him when he was in the doldrums – I probably lost a bit of faith in him myself. The horses are flying and all running well; I just can’t believe it.”

There was a quick return to the winner’s enclosure for Elliott as he teamed up with Barry Geraghty on the JP McManus-owned Sire Du Berlais, who claimed the Grade 3 Pertemps Network Hurdle for the second successive year.

The concluding race on Thursday’s card, the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase, saw jockey Robert James carry the Gigginstown House Stud colours to victory aboard the Elliott-trained Milan Native.

Min the bridesmaid no longer

Having been runner-up on two previous occasions at the Festival, Min showed why he is such a talented chaser as he held off the persistent Saint Calvados in the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase.

It was Min’s fourth attempt at securing a Festival success and he held on gamely to win by a neck from the Kate and Andrew Brooks-owned seven-year-old.

There was elation later in the day for the Brooks family as Simply The Betts, like Saint Calvados trained by Harry Whittington, secured the Grade 3 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate in impressive fashion under Gavin Sheehan.

That sealed a first Festival winner for Whittington, who said: “It’s about everyone else. Andrew, Kate and George Brooks love the game and put so much into it. I am so thrilled for them. We have had five goes this week and inched closer, closer and closer and got there, so it’s fantastic for all of his team as well.

“All my team have given everything this winter and Laura Collett has done an amazing job with this horse’s jumping. It’s a great team effort, with so many people involved, and I am so proud of everyone.”

Concertista strikes up a tune

Simon Munir and Isaac Souede look to have another striking individual on their hands in the shape of six-year-old mare Concertista, who was a runaway winner of the Grade 2 Daylesford Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.