Richard Johnson rode Reve De Sivola
©Healy Racing Photos
Reve De Sivola (15/8f) edged out Oscar Whisky to land the Rewards4Racing Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The betting market found it hard to separate the pair and there was only a neck between them at the line in the three mile Grade Two contest with six lengths back to Kentford Grey Lady in third.
Knockara Beau set out to make this a searching gallop and Barry Geraghty had Oscar Whisky buried back in the pack as Nicky Henderson's smart hurdler attempted to prove his stamina for this trip.
Geraghty waited and waited as Reve De Sivola joined issue with Knockara Beau with Cross Kennon back in third before making his ground on the inside of the track.
He jumped the last marginally down but was soon on terms and the pair went toe-to-toe up the demanding climb to the finish with Reve De Sivola only asserting in the final strides under Richard Johnson.
Nick Williams has nursed the winner back to his best form this season after the promising novice hurdler lost his way over fences and the eight year old has benefited from the wet winter as he relishes testing ground.
In contrast, conditions couldn't be further from Oscar Whisky's optimum and his connections will be keeping their fingers crossed that the ground dried up before March.
Sky Bet make him a 4/1 chance for the World Hurdle with Reve De Sivola half a point bigger at 9/2.