Despite pulling up last time out at Catterick, having previously won the Lincolnshire National at Market Rasen on Boxing Day, the 10-year-old made a successful switch back to smaller obstacles when grinding out a two-and-a-half-length victory in the three-mile-one-furlong event.
He handing a fourth winner of the campaign to Williams, who said: “I had a bad stroke in 2002 and a heart attack on New Year’s Day in 2007, so I had an enforced sabbatical. I’ve only got 10 boxes, but with the health problems that’s all I want.”
He added of the 16-1 winner: “This horse didn’t cost a lot, but he is a tough, hardy handicapper. For whatever reason he didn’t run his race at Catterick.
“Today there was no gallop early on, so we got involved. It takes him the best part of two miles to warm up.
“When he won the Lincolnshire National we hoped he would run a big race in the North Yorkshire National and if he did he would have crept up the handicap and we could have thought about taking our chance in something like the Midlands National.
“He is not very big, but there is a lot of him. It might be at this stage fences just stretch him as he is not exuberant and he can be a bit slow in the air.
“He is going to be a real fun horse, but we might just give him one or two more runs over hurdles and that might make him a bit better over fences.”
Former useful Flat performer Clayton turned the blueribandbet.com 1/4 Odds E/W Every Race Maiden Hurdle into a one-horse race after going one better than on his last visit to the track.
Making virtually all, the 10-11 favourite, a three-times winner on the level for Kevin Ryan, ploughed through the searching conditions to bolt up by 16 lengths. Winning trainer Gary Moore said: “I am very happy, but I don’t know what he beat. Hopefully there are better things to come from him. He won all his races on the Flat from the front and that’s why we let him bowl along today, as we thought it was a good time to do it.
“Hopefully he will make a nice handicapper, he is big enough to jump a fence but I don’t know whether that will happen or not.”
Chris Gordon saw his decision to turn out Loves Destination (2-1) six days after finishing second at Leicester rewarded with a clear-cut win in the Alice’s Noodle Bar Handicap Hurdle.
Picked up for just a £1,000 the five-year-old more than paid that back when taking the £3,898 first prize in the two-mile contest, giving the Morestead trainer his first winner in 51 days.