Fourteen weeks after giving birth to a daughter, Rebecca Curtis scored her first Festival success since 2015 when the 50/1 chance Lisnagar Oscar stormed home in the G1 Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle. It was her fifth win at The Festival in total.
Ridden by Adam Wedge, for whom it was a first Festival win, seven-year-old Lisnagar Oscar beat 20/1 shot Ronald Pump by two lengths, with 33/1 Bacardys in third.
Curtis said: "He ran a blinder on his last run and I am not sure whatever happened to him at the beginning of the season. We did find a few ulcers and things, so we treated him for that and he was so well at home. I thought 50/1 was a massive price.
"Adam is what I call such a solid, solid jockey. I am delighted for him to get his first Festival winner. He has given the horse a brilliant ride.
"I'm absolutely delighted. I thought he had a big chance today; I didn't think he would beat [2019 winner] Paisley Park, but I thought he'd get placed. To see him improve that much - I'm just delighted. I was thinking, 'don't get caught, don't get caught.' He took a nice pull all the way and I thought they went a good gallop.
"it's a time when I need it; I'm trying to rebuild the yard. I've had four winners here before, but it's been five years, so it's just great to win another one."
The winner returned a dividend of £85.70 on the Tote, with an Exacta of £1,464 and a Tricast of £28,381.06.
3.30pm Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1)
1 Lisnagar Oscar (Racing For Fun) Rebecca Curtis 7-11-10 Adam Wedge 50/1
2 Ronald Pump (Laois Limerick Syndicate) Matthew Smith IRE 7-11-10 Bryan Cooper 20/1
3 Bacardys (Shanakiel Racing Syndicate) Willie Mullins IRE 9-11-10 Mr Patrick Mullins 33/1
15 ran 4/6 fav Paisley Park (7th)
Distances: 2, 3
Tote Win: £85.70 Place: £10.70, £4.50, £7.40 Exacta: £1,464.00
Rebecca Curtis - 5th winner at The Festival
Adam Wedge - 1st winner at The Festival
Festival first for Wedge as Lisnagar Oscar springs huge surprise
Adam Wedge's best ever season got even better when Lisnagar Oscar sprang the shock of The Festival™ presented by Magners so far with a 50/1 defeat of 20/1 shot Ronald Pump in the £325,000 G1 Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle.
It was a career-first win at The Festival for one of the weighing room's hardest workers, and Wedge's delight was obvious as he posed for endless photos with the hugely enthusiastic owners who have consolidated their various interests as Racing For Fun and describe themselves as "the poor relations" in Cheltenham's owners' ranks, yet some members of whom have tasted success at the meeting before, including with O'Faolain's Boy, who was also trained by Rebecca Curtis.
Wedge, who enjoyed a first G1 success earlier this season with Esprit Du Large in Sandown's Henry VIII Novices' Chase, said: "I thought we'd have very good each-way chance, but I never expected that. I'm having a brilliant season and this is the cherry on top. To come here and get that is unbelievable. I'll never forget it."
He added: "I've just got very good people supporting me in Evan (Williams, trainer of Esprit Du Large), Emma (Lavelle, who saddled the disappointing favourite Paisley Park) and of course Becky (Curtis), who has a small team but does very, very well. They are just great people."
Reflecting on how the race had gone for him he said: "Apple's Jade went off very hard and for the first circuit I was a bit cold, but Becky had done a fantastic job and when he came alive I was able to fill all the way down the hill. After the last I just had to hope he'd keep galloping, and he did.
"He's worn his heart on his sleeve and tried his heart out. He was all out, but he's done very well. He's not very big, but he was fantastic."
Pump's 20/1 second no surprise to Smith
There was not only a big-priced winner in the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle, won by 50/1 chance Lisnagar Oscar, but also the runner-up and third.
Second-placed Ronald Pump, who was two lengths behind the winner, went off at 20/1, finishing three lengths ahead of Bacardys (33/1) in third.
But Ronald Pump's great run came as no shock to trainer Matthew Smith, who said: "If he'd winged the last maybe we'd have got there but Bryan (Cooper) said he wouldn't have changed anything about the ride.
"I would have been disappointed if he hadn't been in the first three. I knew that he'd be there or thereabouts if he ran to form. He was very impressive in his beginners' chase but his jumping let him down in the Drinmore, when the trip was on the short side as well.
"He then ran a cracker in the Pertemps qualifier at Leopardstown, giving two stone to the winner and this race was on our agenda after that. I thought that was a good enough run to earn a tilt at this. We had thought about the Pertemps but once I saw the weights I thought we'd definitely come to this."
Willie Mullins, trainer of Bacardys, said: "It was a great run. Patrick (Mullins) said they went very fast but he was very happy with the horse and he'll go to Punchestown now."
Penhill, winner of the Stayers' Hurdle in was pulled up early on in the race and is undergoing treatment.
Paisley's purple reign is over
Emma Lavelle was left "disappointed" following Paisley Park's seventh-placed effort in the £325,000 Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle.
The 4/6 favourite, partnered by Aidan Coleman, was attempting to defend his crown in the three-mile hurdling showpiece, but was unable to get competitive in the home straight.
The contest was won by 50/1 shot Lisnagar Oscar, who had finished a closethird to Paisley Park in the G2 galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day.
Reflecting on the effort, Lavelle said: "It's obviously disappointing, but it's just one of those things.
"They are not machines and can't tell you if they are not feeling it for a day for any reason.
"Paisley Park's such a gorgeous horse and it's just a shame. Of course we are disappointed, but it is just onwards and upwards for us.
"He seems absolutely fine and he probably didn't just travel with the same zest at any stage.
"He didn't jump quite as fluently as normal. Whether that is ground related or something, I just don't know.
"I didn't think he was alive under Aidan [Coleman] like he usually is. He just seemed to be going through the motions rather than just tanking through the races.
"We'll get him home and just take stock.
"Paisley Park's been beaten today, but he's an absolute star. He's done so much for us and it's just one day here it hasn't happened.
"There are plenty more days, we'll take stock and come back again.
"It's tacky ground and I think his shoes have been suctioned off as he was running. That ground doesn't play to his strengths, but at the same time, it plays to others strengths. I don't want to blame the ground, we just haven't run as good he could have.
"He is an amazing horse and he will have plenty more amazing days ahead of him.
"I'm delighted that Adam Wedge rode the winner as he rides a lot of us and there are going to be some happy people."