Ginger McCain, paying his last visit to Haydock Park before handing in his trainer’s licence, scooped the feature event when Cloudy Lane powered home in the £20,000 Red Square Vodka “Fixed Brush” Novices’ Hurdle Final.
McCain, best known for his four Grand National wins, has enjoyed many successes at the Merseyside course with Cloudy Lane’s performance giving him particular satisfaction as the race was backed by John Halewood, owner of his 2004 Aintree hero Amberleigh House.
McCain’s son, Donald, takes over the licence next month, and he will have plenty to look forward to with Cloudy Lane, who took the two-and-a-half-mile contest in good style.
The promising six-year-old was kicked on racing off the final bend and jumping the obstacles boldly, the 8-1 shot ran on strongly for Jason Maguire to score by six lengths from Oscar Park.
After greeting his 33rd winner of the season, McCain joked: “The way it is I think I’ll delay handing my licence in for another two years.”
Cloudy Lane is one of three horses owner Trevor Hemmings has with McCain and the trainer continued: “That was impressive. This horse is pretty useful and he is better than we thought he was.
“We’ve always treated him as a potentially nice staying chaser and I couldn’t believe coming into the straight he was going as well as he was because we thought he was a three-miler but he’s gone and done it like a proper horse.
“He’s already schooled over small fences and I think he could be quite a serious staying chaser.
“It was just a nice race to win with John Halewood sponsoring it.
“It was grand – very satisfying.”
Another to be in the money was Glasgow postman Mark Wylie, winner of last week’s toteScoop6, who nominated Cloudy Lane for the bonus prize, which resulted in him landing a total of £227,012.
Appropriately Halewood’s colours were carried to victory by Another Club Royal (10-1) in the bet365 Handicap Chase as McCain and Maguire completed an 98-1 double.
“I’ve been coming to Haydock for a lot of years, ever since I was a lad in stables, and this and Liverpool are my two favourite courses,” McCain added.
Polar Gunner made it five wins on the bounce in the Casino 36 Stockport Paul Summers Classic Handicap Chase.
Malcolm Jefferson’s versatile performer had won once over fences and three times over hurdles already this season and the nine-year-old added to that impressive tally with an eight-length call over Executive Decision.
“He’s just improved and improved and he’s got stronger,” Jefferson said.
“He loves his racing and he really jumps. I think he’s better over fences and he might go to Perth at the end of the month if I can find a race for him.”
Glimmer Of Light, bought out of a seller after winning at Hereford 10 days ago, gave his new connections a quick return on their investment with victory in the £15,000 Cheadle Hulme Handicap Hurdle.
Philip Kinsella gave the Steve Brookshaw-trained gelding a patient ride in the two-mile test before producing the 12-1 chance with a well-timed run to hit the front at the final flight.
Glimmer Of Light soon had the race in the bag and he stayed on strongly for pressure to score by two lengths from Swift Swallow.
“We gave 12,500 for him out of the seller,” said Brookshaw. “Tom Kelly, one of his new owners, suggested that we bought him so we did.
“I was quite hopeful of his chances today with his light weight and he jumped well and was given a very good ride.
“I think we might run him again soon because he likes this easy ground.”
Sue Smith is enjoying another good season and the Bingley trainer moved on to 57 for the campaign when Darina’s Boy took the Tabley Novices’ Chase.
The 11-1 shot raced prominently for Dominic Elsworth before being sent on at the penultimate fence.
Once on the run-in Darina’s Boy was ridden clear to get the better of Bannister Lane by five lengths.
The 10-year-old had not raced since November and Mrs Smith’s husband, Harvey said: “He came back from Newbury wrong, nothing serious just enough to stop him but he’s come back well from his break.”