Al Ferof defied his heavy weight to give Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh their first ever winner of the Paddy Power Chase.
A brilliant jump at the final fence sealed victory for John Hales’s grey in a race that was run at a fiercesome pace throughout. It was a real war of attrition with just six finishers.
The disappointment of the race was favourite Grands Crus who was well beaten when he was pulled up before the second last. Al Ferof travelled like a dream for Walsh throughout the race, jumping with flair and enthusiasm and looking comfortable over the two and half mile trip as others struggled in behind.
Walsh sent him to the front after the third last and only another grey, Walkon, looked to be any threat to him. Walkon joined Al Ferof as the field turned for home and the two greys looked set to battle out the finish over the last two fences. The 2011 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner knows how to come up Cheltenham’s punishing hill and he pulled out a great leap at the last and galloped to the line for a three length victory over the gallant runner up.
Nicholls said afterwards that the King George would now be given serious consideration for the seven year old, who was given a quote of 7-1 by Paddy Power for the Christmas highlight at Kempton.