Bayan bags big Ascot prize
Bayan dug deep to take The Ladbroke at Ascot for trainer Gordon Elliott and rider Davy Condon.
Shelford and the long-absent Balgarry set what looked a healthy gallop up front, tracked within range by Activial, who came to join issue with two to jump but made a hash of it.
Galway Hurdle runner-up Bayan arrived on the scene at the last and was pushed all the way up the run-in by Pine Creek, who could never quite get there and found the line coming a neck too soon. Activial was third, with the gallant Shelford fourth.
Elliott was at Fairyhouse, where he said of the 14-1 winner: "This has been the plan and he had not run over hurdles since Galway. It was great, I'm delighted - he was very tough."
It was an emotional success for Condon, who has been plagued by injuries and was having just his third ride back since a heavy fall at Cork in August.
The jockey suffered three fractured vertebrae in the spill and initially feared he may never ride again after suffering a rare condition called spinal concussion, which briefly left him unable to move from the neck down.
Riding his second winner of the Ascot race after Cause Of Causes for Elliott in 2012, he said: "I'm a bit emotional at the moment, it's great to be back - I didn't think I'd make it back. It was my toughest injuury so far and I was in a lot of pain.
"I was lucky I had a good group of people around me. Gordon Elliott has been so loyal to me leaving me on the horse. Even though I'm not 100 per cent fit I rushed to get back and I'm delighted he won.
"He was just idling in front and was there a bit soon, but he stays well and I knew I had to press on early because he has real stamina. He was tough and responded to every call."
There was to be quite a sting in the tail for Condon, however, as the stewards took a dim view of his use of the whip from the second-last. They ruled he had used his stick above the permitted level and suspended him for 15 days, together with a fine of £3,150.
Sam Twiston-Davies, rider of Pine Creek, also fell foul of the whip rules and was banned for four days.
At The Races presenter Gary O'Brien is part of the winning Core Syndicate.
He said: "It's not too often I'm lost for words in this job, but my heart nearly stopped in that last furlong. When he made a mistake at the second-last, I thought the game was up, but he is such a gutsy horse and you never know when you are beaten when he is on a going day.
"It was a long, long last furlong, but an unbelievable result."
Fellow owner Michael Canning said: "He has been knocking on the door - you always think 'today is the day', but he deserves that. He was second at Galway and third in the Coral Cup - the horse really deserves to win a big one like that. We are just over the moon.
"The last 100 yards felt like 100 miles. He was off the bit four furlongs out and missed the second-last, and you thought your chance had gone. It is unbelievable."
He added of Condon: "He won on the horse at Listowel last year and had a terrible injury at Cork. We didn't think he would be back for this race. He made a real big effort to get back and fortunately his injury wasn't as bad as first feared.
"He had a couple of rides last Sunday and this was just his third ride back. It is the stuff of fairytales."
John Ferguson said of runner-up Pine Creek: "I'm thrilled with him. He's run really well. I was delighted with his run in the Greatwood after being off for 10 months. I thought he would progress and he has.
"He will probably end up getting two and a half miles and we will look at targets for the Cheltenham Festival."