Benefficient (right) stays on strongly in Thursday's JewsonPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Benefficient upsets Dynaste in Jewson
Report: Cheltenham Festival, Thursday
Jewson Novices' Chase (Grade 2) 2m4f, 5yo+
BENEFFICIENT produced a strong staying display to upset Jewson favourite Dynaste in the opening race on day three of the Cheltenham Festival.
Sporting a hood for the first time, the 20-1 winner raced handily under Bryan Cooper but looked beaten turning in when Dynaste - who was sent off at 11-8 - swept by him.
Captain Conan, bidding to give trainer Nicky Henderson his 50th winner at jump racing's greatest meeting, also left Benefficient when giving chase, but the seven-year-old rallied gamely to win by three and a quarter lengths.
Dynaste, ante-post favourite for the RSA Chase until last week when trainer David Pipe opted for the Jewson, held on for second from 100-1 outsider Changing Times who rattled home for Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies.
Trained by Tony Martin, Benefficient, who traded at 150 in running on Betfair, won the Grade 1 Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase on his last start at Leopardstown in January, but many thought that a fortunate success as his two better fancied rivals flopped.
However, he had the form in the book, including a thrashing of Captain Conan in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle last season and connections were understandably delighted.
Martin paid tribute to Cooper, an emerging star of Irish jump racing. He said: "What a buzz. What a ride - it was beautiful. They're wonderful owners and that's what it's all about.
"That was magic. I thought if he ran his race he would not be out of the first three. Of course I respected Dynaste but I thought ours was a little bit underrated. The jockey was excellent, it felt great."
Part-owner Niall Reilly added: "The tactics were 10,000 per cent right. The man [Martin] is a genius. He told us exactly what would happen and Bryan Cooper has ridden the exact race."
Cooper, set to partner JCB Triumph Hurdle favourite Our Conor on Friday, said: "He's travelled great and his jumping was super. I knew if I winged the last I would get back up the inside and he's galloped all the way."
Sir Des Champs, a leading contender for Friday's Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, won the Jewson 12 months ago and William Hill go 25-1 about Benefficient returning to the festival next year and winning the big one, while Paddy Power go 33-1.
Pipe had no excuses for Dynaste. "He's run a good race but was beaten by a better horse on the day," he said. "I'm happy I picked the right race. It was only his fourth run of the season so he might be out again but we'll see how he comes out the race."
Scudamore added: "He ran a great race and did best of the English, but it seems as if the Irish staying novices have the upper hand this season. He jumped fantastically and I thought he was going to win at the second last."
Following the race, Racing Post betting editor Paul Kealy said: "We probably need more evidence but a time of 5min 04.8secs suggests the New Course is riding slower than the Old Course used on the first two days. Not good news when you consider the rain forecast for tomorrow afternoon."