David Bridgwater breathed a huge sigh of relief after Wyck Hill won the Betfred Eider Chase at Newcastle in the famous colours of JP McManus.
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McManus paid a substantial sum for the 10-year-old just over 12 months ago and but for one respectable run at the Punchestown Festival it has been one disappointment after another.
Reunited with Tom Scudamore, who has an excellent record on the Crabbie's Grand National entry, Wyck Hill travelled through the race with an enthusiasm he had not shown since beating Katenko at Ascot in December 2012, the performance which sparked McManus' interest.
However, he struck into himself in the Racing Plus Chase, and bar his third at Punchestown last April it was hard to fancy him after three lacklustre runs this campaign, most recently when pulled up in the Welsh National.
Given a chance by the handicapper, though, he held off McManus' Smoking Aces by three-quarters of a length with Ballypatrick and Safran De Cotte taking minor honours.
While his fall in the handicap enabled him to win this marathon test, there are no penalties after the publication of the weights for the Aintree race meaning he is unlikely to make the final 40 given he is currently 96th on the list.
"That was awesome," said Bridgwater of the 9-1 winner.
"Tom knows him so well and he's seen out the trip well there.
"He's been given a chance by the handicapper and the Grand National will be the aim if he gets in.
"That's my first winner for JP and having a horse for him is like getting the Royal seal of approval.
"If he doesn't get in the National we'll take that, it was a big race today and it's great to win it.
"We might look at Punchestown again but I'll have to talk to JP and Mr (Frank) Berry (racing manager) as they have so many horses it's difficult.
"He's a big slow boat and in hindsight this race was made for him."