|Grade 2, Wincanton 15:15
1m 7f 65y, Class 1
|Saturday 7th November 2015|
1 Irving 9/2
2 Melodic Rendezvous 11/2
3 Zarib 3/1F
8 ran Distances: 7l, hd, 1½l
TIME 3m 38.20s (slow by 7.20s)
Irving, a final-flight faller in the Elite Hurdle last year, makes amends by scooting up this year at Wincanton
Paul Nicholls' runner appeared to have the race at his mercy in 2014 only to meet the last all wrong and crash out in the hands of Sam Twiston-Davies.
Nick Scholfield was aboard this time as he righted that wrong and defied top weight with a stylish success.
Byron Blue set the early pace with the main players happy to bide their time before reeling in the outsider as the field turned for home.
The front-runner was quickly swallowed up as Melodic Rendezvous hit the front with two flights to jump, although Irving was poised to challenge on the outside.
He kicked away on the run to last and while Melodic Rendezvous tried to match strides, he had no answer as Irving found an extra gear and pulled seven lengths clear.
Melodic Rendezvous kept on for second, just holding favourite Zarib by a head.
Nicholls said: "After he fell in this race it never really happened for him last year, but in the summer we sorted his breathing and it's made a huge difference.
"Today he just changed gear and he'll obviously go for the Fighting Fifth after this. Only if they can't stage that race at Newcastle will he go for an alternative race at Haydock.
"Nick has always been sweet on him since he came back and we have done different things with him. It does take him time to warm up, so the Champion Hurdle might well not be part of the plan."
Stanjames.com Elite Hurdle (Limited Handicap)
£60,000 added, 4yo plus, 1m 7f 65y, Class 1
|Pos||D||Horse Weight||Jockey SP||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Irving 9/2||Nick Scholfield
|P F Nicholls||7|
|2nd||7||Melodic Rendezvous 11/2||R Johnson
|3rd||hd||Zarib (IRE) 3/1f||Harry Skelton
|4th||1½||Francis Of Assisi (IRE) 5/1||Aidan Coleman
|J P Ferguson||5|
|5th||1¼||All Yours (FR) 5/1||Sam Twiston-Davies
|P F Nicholls||4|
|6th||10||Olofi (FR) 7/1||P J Brennan
|T R George||9|
|7th||5||Buckwheat 10/1||Mr Alex Ferguson (7)
|J P Ferguson||5|
|8th||2||Byron Blue (IRE) 66/1||Michael Heard (7)