Main Fact finished with an admirable flourish to extend his remarkable winning run to nine and lift a thoroughly lucrative prize in the Betfair Exchange Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle at Haydock.
The seven-year-old has been a revelation since joining David Pipe, being beaten off a mark of 98 in December before winning each of his next eight starts to line up on Merseyside off a 49lb higher rating.
Returning to jumping action for the first time since March after three wins on the level, Fergus Gillard took off a useful 7lb in this ultra-competitive heat and Main Fact was among the market leaders as a 13-2 chance.
His supporters might have been worried with Main Fact back in the pack for much of the race, as Wholestone and Clyne set the pace, but with one hurdle to jump, Gillard had manoeuvred his mount into fourth and produced a perfectly-timed challenge to snatch glory.
Main Fact powered past his rivals to come home two and three-quarter lengths clear of Third Wind, with Highland Hunter third.
A delighted Pipe was not on Merseyside, but he said from his Pond House base: “He’s a freak of a horse really, isn’t he?
“His relations are graded horses in America, and he’s bred by Juddmonte – and obviously, this was a career-best today.
“The rain came for us, which obviously he loves.
“Not that I could see much on the TV, but Fergus gave him a great ride. They’ve got a great partnership.
“He’s not pretty to watch in his races. But he’s there at the finish – which is the most important thing.”
He went on: “I was thinking the same the thing (not to be today) – but you just hope he’s starting to stay on.
“We weren’t certain to get the three miles – even though it was likely – but he’s got every yard of it, and he’s probably idled when he’s got to the front again.”
On future plans, Pipe said: “I suppose it has to be (graded races now).
“Because of his style of running, soft or heavy ground is probably pretty important – but at the same time, he deserves to go up in grade again. This was a fantastic race, but he probably deserves to go into graded company.
“We’ll stick at this (staying trip) now. He has to improve again, but he’s going to go up into the 150s now, so you have to take him seriously.”