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Last Updated: 28/12/12 5:17pm
Tidal Bay: Lexus Chase winner
Tidal Bay snatched victory in the final strides of the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown for Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh.
For the majority of the Grade One contest, the headline writers were preparing glowing tributes to Flemenstar as the favourite swung off the bit and jumped with his usual aplomb.
However, he began to tread water having jumped the last and Andrew Lynch soon sent out the distress signals.
First Lieutenant appeared to be the biggest danger as Sir Des Champs also rallied but Walsh produced Tidal Bay to challenge between horses just yards from the line to put his head in front on the post.
The eleven year old took up his customary position at the rear of the field as Midnight Chase, Hidden Cyclone and Quito De La Roque cut out the early running.
Midnight Chase kept on gamely despite losing his place at around halfway but he was always struggling in this company as was Pandorama who failed to threaten on his return from a lengthy absence.
Sir Des Champs' jumping was far from fluent and he made mistakes at the two fences on the far side, losing lengths and momentum at each obstacle. In contrast, Flemenstar eased towards the head of affairs with Lynch at pains not to commit his charge too soon.
There was no such concern for China Rock who committed for home on the turn into the straight as Hidden Cyclone cried enough and China Rock was soon followed through by First Lieutenant.
It looked for all the world as though they were just playing for places, however, as Flemenstar appeared to be travelling all over his rivals but the needle on the petrol gauge swung to empty to set up the most dramatic of finishes.
The winning margin was a head with Hennessy Gold Cup third First Lieutenant in second, pixels in front of Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs.
Sky Bet go 10/1 from 16s about Tidal Bay for the Cheltenham Gold Cup with his Hennessy conqueror Bobs Worth cut to 3s from 4/1 while Sir Des Champs was left unchanged at 6/1 for the race while Flemenstar (3/1 from 5/1) and First Lieutenent (6/1 from 8/1) were cut for the Ryanair Chase.