HAPPY Diva stayed on gamely up the Cheltenham hill to provide trainer Kerry Lee with a welcome return to the big time in the Grade 3 BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
The handler has had a relatively quiet few seasons after bursting onto the scene when taking over from her father, but there had been green shoots of recovery in recent weeks before this notable triumph.
A huge day for Kerry Lee (@beaubai) and Richard Patrick as Happy Diva digs deep to fend off Brelan D'as in the BetVictor Gold Cup at @CheltenhamRaces! ??#TheNovemberMeeting— Racing TV (@RacingTV) November 16, 2019
Slate House and Robbie Power are up ok after their fall at the second last - would they have won? ?? pic.twitter.com/dlxOO15rwA
Happy Diva was still travelling well within herself in the race last year when she was brought down at the fourth last, but she has rarely run a bad race since.
She could be spotted cutting every corner on the inside, just like 12 months ago, but this time she enjoyed a clear path and coming down the hill for the final time, conditional rider Richard Patrick moved her up alongside long-time leader Warthog.
Robbie Power was looking confident on the favourite Slate House, though, and he appeared to be going better than anything until he exited at the second last.
As Warthog faded, Brelan D’As emerged as the final challenger, but a good leap at the last from Happy Diva gave her just enough of an advantage to enable her to hold on up the hill by a diminishing neck.
Warthog was third with Belami Des Pictons, who was hampered early, in fourth.