Jester Jet dug deep to claim top honours in the Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle at Aintree.
Tom Lacey’s mare lined up on Merseyside off the back of a good effort to finish second in a Listed contest at Warwick in February and was a 20-1 shot for this fiercely competitive handicap in the hands of Robert Dunne.
The eight-year-old raced in midfield for much of the way, but began to make inroads on the leaders rounding the home turn and challenged for the lead jumping the second flight from the finish.
Runner-up Eaton Hill and the Alan King-trained pair of 13-2 favourite Who Dares Wins and Wilde Blue Yonder all came home strongly, but Jester Jet did enough to hold them at bay.
Dunne said: “She’s improved no end since Tom got her. I was confident she’d run a big race, even though she was a big price.
“She ran a nice race the last day and had improved again.
“We went a good pace which helped and I committed going to the second last because I knew she’d stay.”
Lacey said: “That was a super performance, I was a bit nervous bringing her here when the ground got really soft.
“She was in the three-miler, too, but on this ground we went for the shorter trip.
“She’s such a strong traveller and everything worked out. The owner bred her as well so it’s a special day.”
He went on: “It’s my first winner at Aintree. We’ve had an incredible season, everything has just clicked. It’s been an amazing run of form.
“This mare is pretty straightforward. She’s lovely, just a joy. If they were just all as easy as her.
“We’ll have to have a think now. There are lots of options. We decided not to go to Cheltenham, but then I was kicking myself when Alan King’s horse Midnight Tour, whom she beat at Warwick, ran so well there.
“I might not have brought her and waited for a handicap at Ayr.
“It’s the second biggest Festival of the National Hunt calendar. It’s definitely my biggest winner.”