Last Updated: 23/12/19 8:53am
The Worlds End made the most of an unexpected opportunity to bag his second Grade One victory - and first in open company - as he provided the highlight on a classy Ascot card.
Tom George's eight-year-old, winner as a novice at the highest level in the Sefton at Aintree in 2017, doubled his gold-standard tally in Saturday's Marsh Hurdle.
His gritty success in a race long known as the Long Walk came in the absence of champion stayer Paisley Park, who had been due to go off long odds on for a seventh successive victory.
It was not to be for Emma Lavelle's stable star, though, pulled out just as the fixture finally got the go-ahead less than an hour before the first race following a deluge which necessitated contingency efforts from groundstaff to ensure racing room round the worst-affected areas.
While Lavelle was at pains to stress her decision was based on purely personal qualms about isolated patches of false ground, and she must therefore work out a new schedule, The Worlds End suddenly had his golden opportunity.
Beaten seven lengths into third by Paisley Park at Newbury last month, he was thrust into favouritism in a four-runner field.
Nonetheless, after leading until the second-last, he was quickly outpaced by the returning L'Ami Serge and seemed sure to be denied.
Instead, though, as Nicky Henderson's eventual runner-up idled and wilted - having, by consensus, got to the front too soon - The Worlds End rallied emphatically under Adrian Heskin to win by two and three-quarter lengths and spark memorable celebrations in the stands from owner Max McNeill.
It was a heart-warming victory for Heskin too, after his injuries in previous seasons, and he said: "It is fantastic to win a Grade One in these colours - I'm very lucky to be riding for the McNeill family.
"I've had a tough couple of years with injuries and things, and they've stuck by me, and it's great that I'm able to repay them.
"I think this is the tip of the iceberg for them, because they have a great bunch of horses and I hope they are very successful."
George was both relieved and of course delighted to see his resurgent hurdler prevail.
"Once I saw him pick up, I thought he would be OK, but I didn't feel very confident going to the last," he said.
"Far from it. I thought, 'second again' - but we would have been happy with that at this stage."
Ascot hosted another hurdler at the top of his game, as Not So Sleepy put up a sparkling performance in the gathering gloom to make a mockery of his current handicap mark and reward support into joint-favouritism in the closing Betfair Exchange Trophy.
His all-the-way win under Jonathan Burke, by nine lengths from good yardstick Monsieur Lecoq, evoked memories of two top-level performers of years gone by.
The first was Marble Arch, trained like Not So Sleepy by Hughie Morrison and winner of this famous handicap 18 years ago before - two starts later - claiming runner-up spot in that season's Champion Hurdle.
The second was another front-runner Make A Stand, who died recently at the grand age of 28 and was champion at Cheltenham himself in 1997 - having risen around three stones through the handicap in the space of a season for the great Martin Pipe, and won a Grade Two novice hurdle at this meeting en route.
Not So Sleepy is still lightly-raced over hurdles but is a highly experienced, and classy Flat handicapper.
After his latest win, Morrison is prepared to entertain the concept of a Champion Hurdle campaign.
The East Ilsley trainer said: "He was rather amazing. It took my breath away.
"We won this race 18 years ago, not so easily, and ran again at Newbury and the horse disappointed, and then came second in a Champion Hurdle.
"You can only but dream that has to be the ultimate objective."
Course specialist, and Grand National regular, Regal Encore provided just that in the Dave Dawes Silver Cup - defying odds of 16-1, with his 12th birthday looming, to win the Listed handicap for a second time.
Anthony Honeyball's veteran was repeating his 2016 victory, this time in partnership with his habitual pilot Richie McLernon by three-quarters of a length from Acting Lass.
The riding honours away from Ascot went to Brian Hughes at Newcastle, where a four-timer made him the first jockey to 100 winners this season - two ahead of Richard Johnson, who has taken the title for the past four years.
On the Flat, there was a near miss for Andrew Balding's Bangkok, a length-and-a-quarter runner-up to the fast-finishing Pedro Cara in the Qatar Derby at Doha .
At Lingfield, John Gosden's one-time Derby hope Dubai Warrior confirmed his liking for the Polytrack with a decisive three-and-three-quarter-length victory under Robert Havlin from stablemate Court House in the Listed Betway Quebec Stakes.