The Druids Nephew enhanced his claims for the Crabbie’s Grand National when striding out a ready winner of the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.
Brought into the 25-furlong contest on the final circuit after Annacotty had made the running with Azure Fly and Grand Jesture, The Druids Nephew (8-1) hit the front two out.
Barry Geraghty kept the eight-year-old galloping strongly to score by three and three-quarter lengths from Grand Jesture (25-1) and give Neil Mulholland his first Festival winner.
Gallant Oscar was a length and a half away in third, with Indian Castle fourth (16-1) and Pendra (9-1), ridden by Tony McCoy, fifth.
Geraghty said: “He jumped nicely. Every time I gave him a squeeze, he quickened.
“It;s only when you come here (Cheltenham) you realise what it means (to have a winner).
“Everyone wants to ride a winner so it’s good to have got one on the board.”