A review of the rest of the Aintree card on Randox Grand National day as Thyme Hill beat Roksana in a thriller.
Thyme Hill left it late to reel in Roksana in a thrilling renewal of the Grade One Ryanair Stayers' Hurdle at Aintree.
Roksana has been a narrow second in this race before and she had to settle for the runner-up role once again as Thyme Hill got to her just before the line under Tom O'Brien.
Philip Hobbs' horse missed Cheltenham due to a late setback but he was primed and ready for this task, travelling well in the main group throughout who were happy to let Vinndication establish a big lead.
He came back to them on the turn for home and as Roksana sneaked up the inner it looked like she might have her day in the sun under Harry Skelton.
O'Brien and Thyme Hill had other ideas, though, just edging a fabulous finish in what was a great race.
“I’m delighted to be able to repay with a win on this lovely horse for the Philip Hobbs team,” O'Brien said.
“He didn’t make Cheltenham, but (assistant trainer) Johnson White and all the team got him right for today – well done to them.
“He’s just uncomplicated – when I chatted to Richard (Johnson) about him this morning, he just said ‘there’s not a lot you can say other than that he’s uncomplicated, so ride a simple race’.
“He has a heart of gold – he’s a lovely horse.”
Hobbs said: “I should think he’s finished for the season.
“The entries closed this week for the stayers hurdle in Punchestown. We didn’t enter. It was 1200 euros. We thought ‘why waste that when it’s likely he’s not going to run?’
“If he is going to go anywhere he’ll go for the Champion Hurdle in Auteuil at the end of May – which is worth more money anyway.
“Whether he stays over hurdles or goes chasing next season was going to be decided on what happened today – so we now need to discuss it.
“He’s schooled over fences and jumps very well. He’s not the biggest horse in the world but will definitely jump fences – but as long as he looks the best in this league, he might stay over hurdles.”
Sky Bet paid 5 places on this race
Winning Trainer: P J Hobbs | Winning Jockey: T J O'Brien
Shishkin continued his domination of the two-mile novice chasing scene with victory in the Grade One Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase.
The Sporting Life Arkle winner didn't look at his imperious best and he had to be shaken up after the last to see off Funambule Sivola - a horse rated 20lb inferior to the winner.
There didn't look to be that sort of chasm in class between them at Aintree, but perhaps Nicky Henderson's star novice was feeling the effects of the campaign on his fifth start of the season.
He stays five from five over fences, though, and Paddy Power left him unchanged at 5/4 for next year's Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
Winning trainer Nicky Henderson said: "He could've really done with some help, Gumball usually goes a really solid gallop but Nico felt he had to push things along a little bit.
"He doesn't show that speed at home. He's got a wonderful temperament. I think he was just a bit lonely. It's amazing how quick he gets to the other side of a fence. It's a very effective technique.
"The normal route, you'd imagine he'll start at Sandown and take that route. And if they meet [with Altior] then they'll meet."
15:00 Aintree | Full result and free video replay
Winning Trainer: N J Henderson | Winning Jockey: Nico de Boinville
My Drogo was a brilliant winner of the Grade One Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle for Dan and Harry Skelton as he totally outclassed the opposition over two and a half miles.
It was a no contest from two out onwards as he charged home for an ultra-authoritative victory as he pinged the last two flights on his way to an excellent win.
Ballyadam brought the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle form to the table, but he was beaten a long way from home and it was left to Minella Drama from the Donald McCain yard to lay it down to the winner.
The runner-up ran well, but he was soon put in his place by My Drogo - to the tune of nine and a half lengths - and the winner gives the British novice hurdling division a respectable look following a blank Cheltenham Festival, which this horse skipped.
Dan Skelton said afterwards: "Sometimes with success the main emotion is relief and that's what I feel.
"You can see now how important preparation is, the horses that have missed Cheltenham have such an advantage here.
"He jumped three out very well and got to the front as there was no one else to go with him.
"The idea was to get through this year novice hurdling and next year go chasing and nothing has changed.
"Given his breeding, size and jumping you have to go now or never."
14:25 Aintree | Full result and free video replay
Winning Trainer: D Skelton | Winning Jockey: Harry Skelton
Happygolucky was a convincing winner of the Betway Handicap Chase for Kim Bailey and David Bass.
The seven-year-old had to settle for second at the Cheltenham Festival behind Vintage Clouds but off just a 2lb higher mark he went one place better in Liverpool.
He travelled comfortably just off the lead and was going best of all challenging between horses two from home.
Johnbb put up a fight on the run for home, but Happygolucky soon shook him off as he recorded a two and three quarter length success.
16:15 Aintree | Full result and free video replay
Sky Bet paid 5 places on this race
Winning Trainer: K C Bailey | Winning Jockey: David Bass
Hometown Boy ensured Stuart Edmunds won consecutive races at Aintree as he landed the opening EFT Systems Handicap Hurdle on Grand National day.
Edmunds won the last race on day two of the meeting with Rowland Ward and he picked up where he left off with Hometown Boy who won despite a bad error at the final flight.
The six-year-old took up the running from Barnaviddaun some way out and the well-supported favourite was in firm control with a couple of furlongs to go.
A three-length winner at the line, he could've won by at least double that margin were it not for his late mistake and he rates a convincing winner for an in-form yard.
Winning jockey Ciaran Gethings said: "It shouldn't have happened! He's brave as a lion and I didn't want to go for any heroics, I thought I had the race won. He found two legs to stand up, I'm just glad, it's not worth thinking about.
"We won over 2m5f at Kempton on quicker ground than ideal, but we knew on his pedigree he'd stay and he definitely stays.
"He's a proper chaser and you never know, he might be back here for the big one one day."
13:45 Aintree | Full result and free video replay
Sky Bet paid 5 places on this race
Winning Trainer: S Edmunds | Winning Jockey: C Gethings
Knappers Hill ended the meeting on a high for Paul Nicholls and daughter Megan when getting the better of a sustained duel with stablemate Stage Star in the closing Weatherbys nhstallions.co.uk Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
The pair pulled clear of the field in the straight and settled down to fight out the finish with Nicholls mount, who had the rail to help, only getting on top close home.
Stage Star was caught for second in the closing stages by Peking Star - who had finished fourth in an Ascot bumper in December won by Knappers Hill from Stage Star - who finished to such good effect that he was only half a length adrift at the line.
18:20 Aintree | Full result and free video replay
Sky Bet paid 4 places on this race
Winning Trainer: P Nicholls | Winning Jockey: M Nicholls