Well Chief stalked Master Minded before pouncing for the win
Dual champion chaser Master Minded suffered a shock defeat as Well Chief won the Connaught Chase at Cheltenham.
The injury-prone winner (11-4), trained by David Pipe and ridden by Timmy Murphy, was having only his second run in more than three years.
Odds-on favourite Master Minded (4-7), giving 10lb in weight away in soft ground to rivals, finished third.
The Paul Nicholls-trained champion toiled with three furlongs to go as Mahogany Blaze (12-1) took second.
Meanwhile, 9-1 shot Khyber Kim claimed the Greatwood Hurdle ahead of 6-1 joint favourite Harry Tricker and Medermit (8-1).
Earlier, leading Arkle Chase contender Tataniano coasted to victory in the Independent Newspapers Novices' Chase after being left alone in the lead when Fosters Cross crashed out at the third last.
His position at the head of the market is challenged by Sizing Europe, who maintained his unbeaten record over fences with another faultless display to land the Grade Two Craddockstown Novices Chase at Punchestown.
And at the same track, Solwhit lowered the colours of Hurricane Fly with a blistering turn of foot in the Punchestown Hurdle.
The 8-13 favourite had to settle for third, although remains favourite for the 2010 Champion Hurdle, narrowly ahead of his conqueror.
The victory of Well Chief cemented a remarkable comeback for the 2004 Arkle Chase winner.
Originally trained by David Pipe's father Martin, he was sent off favourite for the 2007 Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
But an early fall ended their dream of landing the big prize and he missed the best part of two seasons before finishing runner-up, beaten seven lengths, on his return in the feature race behind Master Minded.
"I'm delighted for the horse, he deserved that," said Murphy.
"It's a different task again come March but if we didn't beat him (Master Minded) today we weren't going to beat him in March."
Champion trainer Nicholls and jockey Ruby Walsh appeared to believe the weight concession may have hindered Master Minded.
Nicholls said he was disappointed the Clive Smith-owned horse hung to the right during the race.
"Funnily enough after he won at Sandown a long time ago Ruby said he wanted to go right-handed and wouldn't be suited by Cheltenham, but we got over that," he said.
In the Greatwood Hurdle, Paddy Brennan produced a perfectly-timed run on Khyber Kim, who is trained in Gloucestershire by Nigel Twiston-Davies, to secure the well-regarded horse's first win in almost two years.
He was still at the rear of the field approaching the third-last, but made his way through the field and scored by two lengths.
Connaught Chase 2m Cheltenham
1 Well Chief (T Murphy) D Pipe 11-4
2 Mahogany Blaze (P Brennan) 12-1
6 ran. Dist: 1¼, 2¾
Greatwood Handicap Hurdle 2m Cheltenham
1 Khyber Kim (P Brennan) N Twiston-Davies 9-1
2 Harry Tricker (A Glassonbury) 6-1 jf
3 Medermit (R Thornton) 8-1
15 ran. Dist: 2, 1
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