By John Hoskins

HE predictably led, was still there at half way but the horse named after a character in a western could only fire blanks at the end.

Such was the valiant effort of Cole Harden, owned by Winchester couple Robin and Jill Eynon, in the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham today.

Cole Harden, winner of the 2015 renewal, could only run away - from the front and full pelt.

Attacking his hurdles, the eight-year-old was steadied as the field swung into the straight for the first time before Gavin Sheehan kicked on three out.

But he could never shake off the pursuing pack and he was finally headed entering the straight when Uknowhatimeanharry loomed alongside.

In turn the favourite could not shrug off outsider Lil Rockerfeller who struck the front after the last.

Just as he looked as though he was going to give the unfashionable yard of Neil King its biggest triumph, little David was put in his place by the Goliath yard of Willie Mullins as Ruby Walsh brought Nicholas Canyon with a storming run up the rails.

Cole Harden ran on gallantly to finish an honourable fourth.