Chantry House took full advantage of the exit of Espoir De Romay to land victory in the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree.
The Marsh Novices’ Chase winner from Cheltenham was two lengths down approaching the second-last when Kim Bailey’s long-time leader crumpled on landing.
That left the 11-8 favourite a long way clear of Shan Blue and he went on to provide Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville with a welcome winner having drawn a blank at the meeting up to then.
Espoir De Romay had set a fair gallop out in front, with David Bass getting some great leaps out of his mount.
He looked to be travelling the better of the two, with Bass still yet to really ask a serious question while De Boinville was hard at it, only for Espoir De Romay to come down.
There were some big disappointments, with the Colin Tizzard pair of The Big Breakaway and Fiddlerontheroof never figuring and Sporting John pulling up.
Shan Blue travelled well before his stamina gave out before three out. He was beaten 32 lengths in second.
The winner was left unchanged at 20-1 by Paddy Power for next year’s Gold Cup, while Espoir De Romay was introduced at 33-1.
I felt I had David covered, but who knows?
De Boinville said: “I thought he travelled well enough early doors and then David Bass went up a gear and I just had to nudge and coax him along. I felt I had David covered, but who knows?
“I think this week has shown that doing Cheltenham and Aintree is quite hard, with only three weeks in between.
“The team at home have done a wonderful job getting Chantry House to run again and put up a performance like that.”
Henderson said: “Nico was reasonably confident that he was creeping to the other horse, but I feel very sorry for Kim, as his horse had put up an exhibition and set a very strong gallop.
“The object of the exercise was to find out if he’s a three-mile horse – and they’ve gone a good enough gallop there to prove that is what he wants. It tells us where to go next year.
“I don’t know where we’ll start next season – we’ll talk to JP (McManus).”
He added: “I think you’ve got admire any horse that wins at Cheltenham and comes and wins here – they’ve got to be pretty good to do that.
“He’s a very solid horse with a great temperament and a lovely attitude to life.
“He might have been lucky twice, with Envoi Allen falling at Cheltenham and Kim’s horse today, but I hope he hasn’t used all his luck up as he’s got a bright future in front of him.”