OXFORDSHIRE trainer Paul Webber was thrilled to end his long wait for a first Cheltenham Festival winner as Indefatigable flew up the hill to snatch a dramatic victory in the meeting’s finale.

Webber, who is based at Mollington, near Banbury, had experienced several near-misses at jump racing’s most prestigious fixture over the years with the likes of Time For Rupert and Carlito Brigante.

But he finally broke his duck when 25-1 shot Indefatigable, who was fifth jumping the last flight in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, got up on the line to beat Pileon by a short head after rival Column Of Fire fell.

Webber said: “I’ve only waited 24 years – I’m probably the oldest training virgin to get a winner here. It’s a great thrill.

“A lot went wrong for her and she has still managed to pull it out the fire. One thing about this horse is that she is tough.

“She carried 11st 12lb to be second to the Coral Cup winner (Dame De Compagnie at Cheltenham in December), so the form was there.

“She is an amazing filly. We’ve had plenty of seconds here in the World Hurdle, County Hurdle and Champion Bumper, so I don’t mind waiting until the last opportunity (of the week).

“This horse has as big a heart as anything we have trained.”

Webber’s late father, John, sent out Elfast from Cropredy Lawn to be a dual Festival winner in the Mildmay of Flete Chase in 1992 and 1994.

And the trainer added: “It is 25 years in May since dad died. I think he will be having a very large brandy and ginger ale.”

The seven-year-old mare, who is owned by Philip Rocher, from Avon Dassett, near Southam, was also a first Festival winner for Dingle, who said: “I knew that, once I passed a few, she might take off and that is what she did. I didn’t know that I had got there, to be fair, when I passed the line.

“I can’t believe it to be honest. Paul had her in brilliant nick. This is massive, surreal.

“I will look back in years to come and probably say I didn’t appreciate it enough, so I’m trying to appreciate it now, and as much as I can. It won’t sink in for a few hours.

“I’m blurry-visioned now.”