Mac Tottie gave the Bowen family a win to treasure over the Grand National fences when coming home clear in the Randox Topham Handicap Chase.
Successful in the Grand Sefton over the famous obstacles in November, he was back to to the exact same handicap mark and arrived travelling smoothly for Sean Bowen as the leaders crossed the Melling Road.
Trainer Peter Bowen was winning the race for the fifth time, having triumphed with Dunbrody Millar (2007) and Always Waining for three successive years from 2010-2012, but it was a first success for his son.
Sent off an 8-1 chance, Mac Tottie had a host of Irish raiders for company after long-time leader Janika had cried enough jumping the last.
Ted Walsh’s Batcio and Willie Mullins’ Annamix were still in there with a chance on the run-in, but Mac Tottie ran right through the line to win by four and a quarter lengths from Batcio. Bowen also saddled the fourth, Francky Du Berlais.
“I have to say, when dad wants to get one ready he really does the job. This is the fifth time he’s won it,” said the emotional winning rider.
“James (Bowen, brother) schooled him the other day and he was beaming, he was so pleased. I’m so lucky that I got on him. It’s unbelievable. I can’t talk.
“To do it for your family is just different. Riding for your family, you can’t put into words how much different it is, doing it for your mum and dad is just different.
“I nearly got brought down at the first, but he soon got into a rhythm and really came alive after the Canal Turn. He was running away, and has gone on to win really well.”
Bowen senior said: “He loves those fences and loves that ground, so everything was just right for him.
“This has been the plan since the Grand Sefton really. He went off the boil a bit after he had that fall in the Becher, but he came back spot-on for today.
“I don’t know what it is about this place, but I love it anyway. That’s our fifth Topham and we could do with a National now!
“We loose school our horses at home and I think that helps them and makes them more accurate at their fences. This horse had a loose school session two days ago and was brilliant.”
Asked whether Mac Tottie could be a future Grand National contender, the trainer added: “If he gets the trip, that would be the question.
“We’ll have a look at what happens next year, maybe he’ll have a go at it.
“There’s no reason why he wouldn’t stay – he’s bred to. Fingers crossed.”
Walsh – who will saddle leading fancy Any Second Now in the National – said of Batcio: “He’s run great, right up to his mark and maybe above it.”
Annamix was ridden by Danny Mullins, who said: “He really took to the fences and they brought back that spark that was possibly missing in him earlier in the season.
“He enjoyed it, and I hope it might rejuvenate him as well as opening up some other options.”