The well-supported Go Whatever gave Chris Gordon a notable victory when landing Sky Sports Racing Sussex National in the hands of Tom Cannon at Plumpton on Sunday.
The extended three-and-a-half-mile handicap was not the slog many had anticipated it would be as eight of the 15 runners completed, but it was Go Whatever who finished full of running.
Yet jockeys and officials were thankful that they avoided a major downpour which held off until the heavens opened ahead of and during the following contest.
A winning pointer, the lightly-raced eight-year-old Go Whatever had previously had just four starts over fences.
But he jumped his rivals into the ground and after pinging the last, drew seven lengths clear of Pemberley, with Game Line dropping away to finish two and a half lengths further back in third.
Gordon, who was completing a double on the card after the earlier success of Aucunrisque in the two-mile novice hurdle, said: “It is great to start the new year like that, especially for the owner, Anthony Ward-Thomas, who is a big supporter of the yard and we have been big mates for years.
“It is lovely to come here and have a couple of winners. It is fantastic.”
He added: “He put everything in and got a bit tired, so Tom just jumped off him afterwards. It is wonderful to win a Sussex National.
“To be honest, I found it really, really hard last year. I found it really tough trying to get the winners. We had a few placed horses, but it is really nice to start with a couple of winners today.
“It is a big winner in its own right. It is my old local track and to come down to win their main race of the season is fantastic. He is going to be suited to these types of races, but he will need a nice break after that.
“He goes on winter ground, stays all day and jumps well. He is a bit of an awkward horse and finds it a bit tight round here. I think you might see a tiny bit of improvement on a big, galloping track.”
Winning jockey Cannon said: “He got into a good rhythm. It was a good performance and the visor obviously helped him and today he was really honest and galloped right the way to the line.
“The plan was to take my time and we hoped the headgear would work. It is always a rough race with so many runners and once you get the start out of the way it is hard to find space.
“But I managed to find may way eventually, even though I went a little bit wide. And it worked out well on the day, so I’m delighted.”