Chase the Spud lands gritty victory
Fergal O'Brien's Chase The Spud showed gutsy determination as well as abundant stamina to land the staying honours in the Betfred Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter.
The nine-year-old was the last horse to put in a challenge after being held up towards the rear for most of the four-mile-one-and-a-half furlong journey by jockey Paddy Brennan, who was bouncing back after a miserable Friday at Cheltenham when Cue Card again fell in the Gold Cup.
Mysteree had looked the likely winner when going on at the third-last in a bid to follow-up his victory in Newcastle's Eider Chase. The pair jumped the last together but Chase The Spud (11-1) wore down Michael Scudamore's charge to get the verdict by a length and a half from the gallant Mysteree.
Warrantor was five lengths away in third place, with top-weight Houblon Des Obeaux another two and three-quarter lengths back in fourth.
O'Brien said: "It was a gutsy performance and a great ride by Paddy.
"It fell into his lap, really. They went hard early on and Paddy kept him interested and kept him jumping. He got him in the right place at the right time. I'm absolutely delighted.
"He likes that ground and this time yesterday I didn't think we were going to run as there was no rain with us. Thankfully Uttoxeter had enough rain to turn it to soft, so we decided to come.
"He's pretty tired and there isn't a whole lot for him, so I'd say that might be it for him this season."
Brennan said: "For three-quarters of the way I didn't think I was going to win, but I kept it in my mind there might only be a few finishers and I saved the race for the end.
"I'm so proud of the horse. There has always been an excuse and the owner has been extremely patient. I'm delighted to get a good one for Fergal O'Brien.
"Cheltenham was fine - it just didn't go our way. It's nice to get a big one today."
Scudamore was proud of Mysteree, saying: "We managed to beat him a couple of lengths or so at Haydock earlier in the season.
"The weights have turned around and he's come back and done us today, but I'm very proud of our fella. He's come back from the Eider and run a great race and Robbie (Dunne) has given him as lovely ride. I'm just proud of the performance."
Meanwhile, American defied top weight in style when taking his unbeaten record over fences to three with an impressive victory in the Betfred TV Novices' Handicap Chase at Uttoxeter.
Trainer Harry Fry's decision to avoid the RSA Chase at Cheltenham because the ground was not soft enough proved a wise one, as American looked a cut above the opposition with a classy display of jumping in the testing conditions.
Noel Fehily, fresh from his wins in the Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase at Cheltenham, enjoyed an armchair ride on the 2-1 favourite.
"He thrives on those conditions and he jumped for fun" said Fry.
"He is an exciting novice chaser. He is just so fragile and can only run when conditions suit, but he is capable of performances like that. It is his knees that are the problem and it's just a case of keeping him in one piece."
Sunday Indo Sport