Red Infantry gave a gutsy display in the Virgin Bet Grimthorpe Handicap Chase at Doncaster to star in an across-the-card treble for trainer Ian Williams.
By ending a winning run going back to November 2018, the 11-year-old could have earned himself a place in either the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter or more likely the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown next month.
Red Infantry (8-1) gave everything for Charlie Todd to make virtually all the running as the pair fought off all-comers in the Town Moor feature.
He was headed by Special Prep after jumping the final fence, but rallied in splendid fashion to get back close home and get the verdict by a head. Canelo, the 13-8 favourite, was seven lengths away in third place.
Williams said: “It was a great result. The ground and everything came right for him. He had a bit of time off with an injury, but he’s run to his best today.
“He’s not the easiest to ride and Charlie has given him a great ride on what is probably one of his last opportunities to ride as 5lb claimer.
“Whether he goes for the Midlands National or we might hang on to him for Sandown (the bet365 Gold Cup) remains to be seen, depending on how he comes out of today.
“He’s won around there (Sandown) and likes it there. That’s probably the plan.”
It was a great day for Williams, who also took the Listed Virgin Bet Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle with 40-1 shot Dragon Bones, while Always Resolute struck at Newbury.
A delighted Todd said of Red Infantry: “He fought all the way to the line. I always felt he was going to cling on.
“He didn’t run badly here the last day. The step up in trip definitely helped.
“The change of tactics helped – go a good gallop and make use of a low weight. We just gave it a good go.
“I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet.”