20/1 shot Pentland Hills landed the opening race on the final day of The Festival™ presented by Magners, the £125,000 G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle, for trainer Nicky Henderson.
The four-year-old son of Motivator challenged for the lead approaching the final flight and following a good leap under Nico de Boinville, the gelding powered away up the Cheltenham hill to score by three lengths.
Henderson is now the joint winning-most trainer in Cheltenham Festival history with 64 winners, along with Willie Mullins and was recording his fourth victory of the week. He now leads The Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award for 2019.
The master of Seven Barrows was also capturing a record seventh success in the G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle. Pentland Hills is owned by the Owners Group which was set up in 2014.
Discussing Pentland Hills, who won a Plumpton maiden hurdle in February on his only start over hurdles, Britain's champion Jump trainer said: "Pentland Hills nearly fell at the first and then I was thinking this wasn't such a good idea, but the rest of it was good. I am sorry about the other horse, such a gorgeous looking horse.
"When he went to Plumpton, I was very impressed with him because he was so professional - he raced professionally and jumped very well. There is a huge great team in this group of owners, it's sort of an off-shoot of Elite [Racing Club], and I said we might as well have a day out because I think he knows enough to risk doing it.
"We used the Plumpton race before for First Bout [1985 JCB Triumph Hurdle winner], but the handicapper wasn't going to let him into the Triumph. It was the days before the Fred Winter, so there was always a ballot for the Triumph.
"The handicapper told me after Plumpton that he wasn't going to get in, so we had to run him again on the Friday at Newbury, when he won by 20 lengths again. So he actually had two starts, whereas this fellow has only had one.
"He was far enough behind but good enough and Nico gave him a great ride. He stayed on well up the hill. I think he was rated 70 something on the Flat and you are looking up at the likes of some of those horses like Sir Erec, poor thing, who was 110 or something. We thought we were being a bit brave, but it is lovely.
"He has got a very long way to go, it was only the second hurdle race of his life. We will see - we will probably try and go somewhere else before it's all over but there is no reason why he shouldn't run on the Flat again. He is slightly a Punjabi-type of horse and you never know."
Boinville top jock after JCB Triumph Hurdle success
Nico de Boinville moved to the head of The Festival 2019 jockeys' list with a third win of the meeting on Pentland Hills, a once-raced 20/1 chance whose ownership is shared by no fewer than 3,000 members of the Owners Group 031, each of whom paid just £57 for the privilege.
De Boinville had a scare at the first flight and had to take avoiding action when 11/10 favourite Sir Erec went wrong down the far side, but he had a willing and very able partner in Pentland Hills, who came from way off the pace and settled matters with a terrific turn of foot which saw him quicken three lengths clear of Coeur Sublime.
The jockey said: "You never like to win a race when that has happened. That is the reality of the sport and it's a tragedy for connections and everyone involved with Sir Erec.
"Take nothing away from my lad because he made a mighty error at the first and has done seriously well to get back into contention.
"This is only his second start over hurdles and he must be some horse. He ran at Plumpton two Mondays ago and I said afterwards 'guv'nor, I do really like this horse and I think we need to seriously have a look at the Triumph.
"After the first, he was very slick and I was able to hunt away and pick them off when I could.
"I had David Mullins on my outside after the first and I said 'I'm still here David, so we will go from here' and it was just on to plan B and C from that stage. I just had to hunt away and get him going.
"Whenever I gave him a little click, he seemed to come hard on the steel, and I jumped second last with a lovely position, right down the inside and everyone can spread out. It was just a case of weaving my way through - I didn't want to hit the front too soon.
"I could see Davy Russell on my outside and he hadn't gone for his yet, and I was thinking how much I had got left and how much he had got left. It was a case of getting a nice jump at the last and then heading on up the hill.
"He knows exactly what he is doing and settles well, which is nice. Usually, these Flat horses come and they are really revved up and used to running over a mile or a mile and a half. He is so settled and his jumping is his main asset. Hen Knight had him early doors to teach him to jump and she really liked him.
"I would like to hope that he could be a Champion Hurdle horse. We didn't know what we had before today and I think we will get home, have a good think and discussion. It's such a massive syndicate and it's great because it opens up the game to a lot of people> it shows that racing is accessible."
He added: "I am glad we have got a guv'nor who is very sporting and the owners as well. He is owned by thousands of people so it is going to some party afterwards I think."
Pentland Hills, who made his hurdles' debut at Plumpton only 18 days previously, was bought privately by Anthony Bromley from Newmarket trainer Chris Wall after winning twice on the Flat and earning a rating of 73.
The Owners Group 031, are a spin-off off of Elite Racing, who enjoyed Triumph success with Mysilv in 1994 and Penzance in 2005, and are former sponsors of the Triumph Hurdle.
1.30pm £125,000 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 179y
1 Pentland Hills (Owners Group 031) Nicky Henderson 4-11-00 Nico de Boinville 20/1
2 Coeur Sublime (Chris Jones) Gordon Elliott IRE 4-11-00 Davy Russell 20/1
3 Gardens Of Babylon (J P McManus) Joseph O'Brien IRE 4-11-00 Barry Geraghty 9/1
11/10 fav Sir Erec (PU)
Time 4m 4.85s
Distances: 3, 3¾
Tote Win: £19.40 Places: £3.50, £5.80, £2.10 Exacta: £672.40
Nicky Henderson - 64th winner at The Festival
Nico de Boinville - 10th winner at The Festival
RUSSELL HITS THE CROSS-BAR WITH COEUR
Davy Russell's frustrating week continued with second place in the G1 £125,000 JCB Triumph Hurdle aboard the Gordon Elliott-trained Coeur Sublime.
Russell, who was leading jockey at last year's edition of The Festival™ presented by Magners with four winners, has yet to score this year.
Coeur Sublime, a son of Elusive Pimpernel, finished three lengths behind the Nicky Henderson-trained winner Pentland Hills (Nico de Boinville) at 20/1.
"It's still a great achievement to finish in the first four in the Triumph Hurdle, because it is so difficult to do - we're delighted with him," said Russell. "He's a good horse and he ran a great race.
"I've hit the cross-bar a few times this week but it isn't over yet."
GOING AFTER THE FIRST
Nico de Boinville, on the 20/1 winner Pentland Hills, said: "Soft."
Davy Russell, jockey of the three-length second Coeur Sublime (20/1), said: "Soft."
Barry Geraghty, partner of third home Gardens Of Babylon (9/1), said: "Soft."
Daryl Jacob, on Adjali, said: "Soft."
Jack Kennedy, partner of Authorizo, said: "Dead."
Harry Skelton, rider of Ecco, said: "Soft."
David Noonan, on board Hannon, said: "Good to soft - possibly softer."
Harry Bannister, rider of Nelson River, said: "On the slow side."
Sam Twiston-Davies, partner of Pic D'Orhy, said: "Soft."
Harry Cobden, jockey of Quel Destin, said: "Soft and very hard work."
David Mullins, partner of Runrized, said: "Soft."
Ruby Walsh, partner of Tiger Tap Tap, said: "Slow."
Paul Townend, rider of French Made, said: "Slow."
Statement from Cheltenham Racecourse about Sir Erec
Sadly Sir Erec sustained an injury in the G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle.
He was immediately attended to by the veterinary team, who very sadly determined that it was necessary to euthanize him on welfare grounds.
As animal lovers, we hate to lose any horse and of course we shall review this incident.
Our thoughts are with Sir Erec's connections.