THE well supported 5/2 favourite Presenting Percy recorded back-to-back victories at the Cheltenham Festival with a facile victory in the Grade 1 RSA Chase.
Having landed the Pertemps Final 12 months ago, Presenting Percy has gone on to prove himself much better than a handicapper.
Trained by Patrick Kelly, the seven-year-old son of Sir Percy was confidently ridden towards the back of the field by Davy Russell, before making steady headway approaching the home straight.
A superb leap at the last sealed victory for Presenting Percy, who went on to score by seven lengths from Henry de Bromhead's Monalee (10/3) in second. Elegant Escape (9/1), trained by Colin Tizzard, was a further seven lengths back in third.
Trainer Pat Kelly is never one to shout from the rooftops and he has charted an unconventional path to Cheltenham this year, including a win back over hurdles, but he obviously knew what he had on his hands.
Winning owner Philip Reynolds said: "I am actually speechless. "I was hoping that Presenting Percy was a Graded horse and was so thrilled for him when we won the Galmoy at Gowran Park because he had got a bit of a slagging about being a handicap horse.
"You need to be really, really tough to win an RSA and you need to stay more than three miles. Pat wanted to get to the bottom of both those. He wanted to know if he stayed more than three miles, which is why he ran in the Porterstown, and he also wanted to know that he could be tough, which is why we ran him in open company twice.
"Pat Kelly [trainer] is an absolute genius. Davy Russell had a very, very hard decision to make. He could have ridden Monalee and the two of them were lying up upside each other coming to the last. I owe my life to those two guys and it's fantastic."
The man is training in Co Galway and nobody recognises the small man, yet he has gone and broke through. He is a brilliant trainer. - Davy Russell
Davy Russell switched his mount off at the rear of the field and when he decided to join in towards the end of the back straight, he was absolutely cruising.
Russell said: "I have underestimated this horse all along. I felt he had to prove it. He has now and he's the Grade 1 winner we hoped he would be. People have really latched on to him. He was unimpressive to me, but by God he is some horse. All credit goes to [owner] Philip Reynolds and Pat Kelly - what a master. The man is training in Co Galway and nobody recognises the small man, yet he has gone and broke through. He is a brilliant trainer.
Ruby Walsh suffered a heavy fall during the race. The winning-most jockey in Festival history sustained what appeared to be a leg injury when he parted company with Al Boum Photo.
The British Horseracing Authority's stewarding team tweeted: "Following examination by doctors, Ruby Walsh has been stood down for the rest of the day. He would need to pass a further medical examination by Doctors before taking any further rides at the Festival."
The 38-year-old rider only returned to competitive action last Thursday after he suffered a broken leg at Punchestown on November 18th.
Walsh was taken to hospital for further examination, and Douvan's owner Rich Ricci said: "He's been taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg. It's a shame and I hope he's OK.
"It looks like it's the same leg."