The Conditional and a delighted Brendan Powell
©© Photo Healy Racing
The Conditional clung on grimly to emerge victorious in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.
A winner over the course and distance in October, David Bridgwater’s charge went on to fill the runner-up spot in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury before placing fourth when favourite for the Classic Chase at Warwick in January.
The eight-year-old was a 15-2 chance on his return to Prestbury Park and travelled strongly for much of the thee-mile-one-furlong journey in the hands of a confident-looking Brendan Powell.
There was a scare for The Conditional’s supporters at the second fence from the finish, but he winged the final obstacle and galloped all the way to the line to hold the persistent challenge of Kildisart by diminishing neck.
Discorama and Vinndication, the 11-2 joint-favourites, finished third and fourth respectively.
Bridgwater said: “I thought we had lost it at the second-last when he pecked, but that has probably done us a favour, as I said to Brendan don’t hit the front too soon — he gave him a fantastic ride.
“He is a good horse, but he is still only a baby. I was umming and ahhing whether to run in the RSA. If I’m being honest, I was half-hoping we were going to get balloted out of this, but we got in easy, so I thought stuff it and the betting never gets it wrong.
“I half-fancied him to run into a place in the RSA, not necessarily win it, which would have made him a certainty for today.”
He added: “It was a great day when he won here in October, but to come and do it here is just amazing. I’ve always been lucky here as a trainer and a jockey.
“When I bought him he was possibly a long-term Grand National horse and it burst our bubble at Warwick, but when we were tacking him up today he was in great nick.
“Brendan has had a blip for a couple of years as we all do as trainers and jockeys and it is very special to him. Possibly he might be a Grand National horse, but he is still only a baby.”