Gina Andrews guided Latenightpass to glory in the Randox Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase over the Grand National fences at Aintree.
Andrews, a record-breaking point-to-point rider, had the nine-year-old – who was second 12 months ago – up in contention right from the start.
She was tracking last year’s winner Cousin Pascal, with Cat Tiger never far away as the first three from 2021 looked set to dominate again.
After Jett, the short-priced favourite based on his efforts in last year’s National, could not get his own way from early on not many got into contention.
One who did arrive late on the scene was Porlock Bay, a winner at last year’s Cheltenham Festival but he could only manage third.
It was Cousin Pascal who wilted first, but on jumping the last Cat Tiger and his owner/rider David Maxwell appeared to be travelling the best.
However, Latenightpass (7-2), running for the first time since a wind operation, kept up the gallop to provide Andrews’ husband Tom Ellis with the most notable success of his career.
Andrews said: “He was absolutely super, he just takes to it so well for whatever reason. He was so nimble, he is by no means the most scopey, just agile and so nimble.
“You have to get a good start, they always say you can’t win the race at the start but you can lose it. He was brilliant all the way round, no mistakes, I’m just delighted.
“It’s an absolute dream. He took to it like an absolute dream last year so we missed Cheltenham this year and he was a much fresher horse. I’m so pleased.”
Ellis said: “Dad and I got bored when mum was away and we went to see a neighbour and got the mare. I think we gave £2,000 for her, I rode her a few times and she won three races and got injured.
“This horse was the first foal we’ve ever bred, so we’ve literally done everything with him from the word go and I can’t tell you what it means – it’s magical.
“We came so close last year. I’ve been good friend with Dan Skelton since school and the first thing he said to me was don’t go to Cheltenham next year and you’ll win – what a piece of advice!
“We felt we’d left our Aintree race at Cheltenham last year and coming here fresh this year has definitely paid off. The plan has come together, which is amazing.
“We have lots of winners point-to-pointing every weekend and Gina rides them all, but to see your wife win the race of her dreams on a horse you’ve bred and trained, it’s absolutely amazing.
“This is as emotional as I’ve ever been – I’m speechless.”