Cousin Pascal provided a 66-1 shock in the Rose Paterson Randox ‘Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase at Aintree.
James King – winning the race for the second time – steered the Joe O’Shea-trained outsider to a surprise result over the Grand National fences, as amateur riders were welcomed back to one of their big races of the year after the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
There was drama at the first fence when Kashmir Peak and Dashing Perk fell, while Risk And Roll was another casualty in the early stages.
Cousin Pascal was always close to the pace with Golden Tobouggan, Some Man and Cat Tiger up with the leaders.
There were many in with chances as they crossed the Melling Road with two fences to jump.
Latenightpass held a narrow lead but Cousin Pascal had the far rail to help and crossed the line two and a half lengths to the good over that rival.
Cat Tiger was three and a quarter lengths back in third and a nose ahead of Clondaw Westie in fourth.
King said: “Obviously it was very disappointing to miss Cheltenham (due to ban on amateur riders), it was great that we can get back here and get racing. I didn’t appreciate the first time I won the race, but I’ll definitely appreciate it now.”
Cheshire-based O’Shea said: “When he came into the straight, I knew there was only one winner from there. We’ve had him now for about four months and he’s never stopped improving from the minute he came into my stable, everytime I throw something at him, he’s at it.
“We were rag and bone merchants, 24 horses every morning, we used to have to muck out and feed before we went to school. I’ve always loved the thoroughbred but we were brought up with the coloured cobs.
“I backed him to win £16,000, just in case. Every time I backed him he went out, so I just kept backing him. I thought ‘if he wins, someone’s going to have to pay for the beer’. I personally drink milk, but for everyone else, champagne will be on me all night.”
Editeur Du Gite ran his rivals into the ground with a bold front-running performance to win the Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase.
Gary Moore’s seven-year-old, ridden by his son Josh, put in good round of jumping apart from the last, where he he was slow, but he recovered and galloped all the way to the line.
Sully D’Oc Aa and Dostal Phil, both owned by JP McManus, tried to close but the post came in time for the 9-1 winner, who was wearing the colours of 2014 Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Sire De Grugy.
The winning rider said: “We’ve had to be patient with him, but it’s starting to pay off now.
“Last season ended early and we never got to run him much, so this season he was quite inexperienced when we started off and didn’t really see out his races that strongly. He’s starting to do that a lot better now.
“His strong point is his jumping, but he is a fast horse. You could work him with any Flat horse at home and you’d feel disappointed about them, but that said, his jumping gives him a breather and helps him through a race.
“He certainly gets horses under pressure in the middle of the race and I think this better ground helps massively.
“He’s got to progress again, but the way he jumps and travels will suit in a higher grade, so hopefully he might end up there.”
Rachael Blackmore, leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival got off the mark at Aintree’s big meeting with victory on Me Too Please in the Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
She had the Arthur Moore-trained five-year-old close to the pace set by Mansoline and Swincombe Fleat before setting sail for home in he straight.
Once in front, Me Too Please (14-1) showed her inexperience by veering over to the far side but Blackmore kept the partnership intact.
They crossed the line a length and a half to the good over Elle Est Belle, with Miss Lamb third in the Grade Two contest.
The Pam Sly-trained Eileendover was sent off the evens favourite but she never looked like adding to her three previous victories and was a never-threatening fourth.
Blackmore said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to ride a big winner like this for Arthur, he was very good to me in my early days when I was in college.
“He said she was in very good form at home and he was very happy with her coming over. It looked a very hot race on paper, but he was happy with her and we got a lovely passage through the race. He did tell me to try not to get down the rail, and of course I was down the rail, but it when it works out, it’s great.
“She just showed a bit of greenness when the rail went away, but she galloped all the way to the line and it was a very good performance.”