Fresh from winning the Summer Hurdle on Too Friendly, a supremely confident Harry Cobden sat cold at the very back of the field on the 3/1 favourite, who was on a five-timer after winning all four of her previous starts for the Jardine stable.
Tardree set the early pace at the head of affairs, with Hang In There racing in second. Born Famous had all 13 of her rivals in front of her from the get-go, with Francky Du Berlais, who was chasing a third successive win in the race, settled in midfield towards the inside.
Hang In There made a shuddering error mid-race but quickly recovered and moved up to apply pressure to Tardree before three out. Born Famous had looked to be going nowhere when a slightly detached last at halfway but had begun to creep past a few rivals by this stage of the contest.
Courtland emerged from the pack to challenge Hang In There over two out, with Cobden gradually smuggling Born Famous further into contention. It was at the last that he would finally play his full hand, coaxing a super leap from the mare and gradually overwhelming the game Courtland on the run-in to win by three-quarters of a length. Hang In There lived up to his name by boxing on for third, with Chief Black Robe fourth.
This was the first running of the race since it lost Grade-3 status but the thrilling spectacle more than made up for any loss of prestige.
A six-year-old daughter of Famous Name, Born Famous won a Tyrella point-to-point for previous trainer Claire O'Connell in Ireland, but was a 10-race maiden under rules when joining the Jardine yard earlier this year.
She has made rapid strides in the months since, beginning her winning spree in a Perth handicap hurdle off a mark of 98 in April, before striking at the same track over fences from an identical rating the following month. She would win again over hurdles at Aintree before an easy 17-length success back at Perth set her up for a tilt at Market Rasen's summer showpiece.
Meanwhile, the quickfire double keeps Harry Cobden in contention for the jump jockeys' title race.
Cobden said: "There probably wouldn't have been a word said [if he'd have pulled the mare up at the halfway stage]. I spoke to Iain beforehand and Conor O'Farrell who normally rides her.
"He's dislocated his shoulder unfortunately, but he filled me with confidence, Iain wasn't quite sure how well she'd travel stepping back into this grade.
"We were off the bridle early and I got slightly detached but her jumping kept her in it. I actually knew halfway down the back that I'd win because I had so much in the tank, and she was jumping past horses with ease. She never missed a beat.
"It's a tremendous prize and she was obviously very well-handicapped when they got their hands on her. She's progressed and progressed and it's a job well done from the whole team up there."
He has ridden 27 winners at the time of writing, leaving him in third position behind front-runner Sean Bowen and reigning Champion Brian Hughes. Although he has quite a lot of ground to make up on the leader, Paul Nicholls' retained rider has made a faster start to the campaign than usual and could have a big part to play in the title race when the NH season steps up a gear later in the year.
Too Friendly Takes Summer Hurdle for Cobden and Owen
Five-time Champion Arabian Trainer James Owen secured the biggest win of his burgeoning career under NH rules as the 11/2 shot Too Friendly won the Unibets Zero% Mission Summer Handicap Hurdle at Market Rasen.
The switch to more patient tactics worked the oracle for the five-year-old Camelot gelding, who relinquished his recent front-running role to sit a few lengths off the leaders under Harry Cobden. On ground changed officially to soft following the first race, Byzantime Empire took the sixteen-runner field along in the early stages before an injection of pace from Gavin propelled him to the lead with a circuit to run.
The favourite, Mystirica, closed on Gavin on the run to two out, at which point Cobden manoeuvred Too Friendly off the rail in search of some daylight. Mystirica led jumping the second last but was only there on sufferance, Too Friendly powering past her on the run-in to win by a length and a half in the famous yellow silks of the Gredley family.
Castel Gandolfo recovered from a mistake three out to finish runner-up for the second year running, while the patiently-ridden Glorious Zoff picked his way through the field to take third. Mystirica faded late on into fourth.
Too Friendly was winning for the fifth time in a 23-race career, and finally delivering the big race victory he has so often promised. He set out on the Derby trail after winning a Doncaster maiden early in his three-year-old year and was a promising juvenile hurdler for the Dan Skelton yard soon afterwards. He won twice over jumps during the 2021/22 season, as well as finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster and fifth in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival.
A frustrating spell of near misses was to follow, but he has been freshened up by the switch of stables in April and has not looked back in five starts since.
The winning trainer, James Owen, said: "That was sweet. That's winner number nine and it's our biggest by far. The horse has been good to us, we just got beat last time at Cartmel but he ran a cracker. He looked at the crowd and it was probably my fault giving Brian [Hughes] the wrong instructions, but we learned a lot from that.
"We rode him a little differently today, just having him handy and he settled lovely. He's travelled through the race lovely and battled well I thought, he's still only five and he's had a hard campaign.
"We might just give him a little break now and come again at the end of the summer – there might be something else for him.
"Mentally he's improved every race, he needs his headgear, and he gets warm, but the key is he's settling in his races and he's enjoying it.
"He went up for his run at Cartmel and we thought that might have snookered him today but he's handled the race well. He's got a bit of a knee action and Camelots can handle a bit of cut.
"We love the training and it's actually gone a lot better than I thought. We've got 10 horses and I've just raised that to 12. I probably will look to get to 20, but pre-training is my business and it's given us a chance to do this.
"It lets us have a bit of fun alongside and we're really enjoying it."
Owen, who also has runners in point-to-points and runs a pre-training yard from his Newmarket base, has only recently turned his attention to training jumpers under rules. Father Of Jazz secured the stable its maiden victory when scoring at Kempton on the first day of the current NH season and eight more successes have swiftly followed at a strike rate of around 30%.