Barry Geraghty rides JP McManus' Eastlake to victory in Crabbie's Topham Chase at Aintree
Eastlake made it third time lucky over the Grand National fences after ending a spell in the doldrums to claim the Crabbie's Topham Chase at Aintree.
With only two completed starts to his name this season, the Barry Geraghty-ridden 10-year-old showed what he can do on a going day when carrying the famous green and gold silks of his owner JP McManus to glory in the Grade Three handicap.
In a race which saw favourite Bishops Road depart at the first, it looked as though last year's runner-up Fairy Rath was going to go one better, having seemingly got the measure of most of his rivals with the jumping complete, having taken the field along for much of the race.
Although the 22-1 winner travelled much the stronger he took time to warm to the task and it was only inside the final 100 yards of the two-mile-five-furlong affair that Jonjo O'Neill's charge edged on to take a four-length success.
Geraghty said: "He was brilliant. He stuck in a short one at the third-last, which was him being cleverer than me, but all the way through the race he was jumping almost too well and I was getting involved sooner than I wanted to be.
"He pinged the Canal Turn and I had a great ride through the race. The ground has improved and he enjoyed it, but he's just a natural.
"There's been modifications to the fences, but it's still about jumping. They're big fences and there's been plenty of horses been caught out by them. They might not be as severe as they were, but they're still a massive test of a horse."
McManus said: "Barry gave him a great ride, he was happy all the way round.
"AP (McCoy) said he's the type of horse he'd ride in the National, and Jonjo's done well with him to be fair, he's had his problems but we're delighted with him today."
McManus has a number of chances in the National itself on Saturday, led by last year's fifth Shutthefrontdoor, who will be ridden by Geraghty.