Crosspark provided trainer Caroline Bailey with the biggest success of her career with a battling triumph over 2017 winner Mysteree in the Vertem Eider Handicap Chase at Newcastle.
Third in the Classic Chase at Warwick last time out, the Jamie Moore-ridden nine-year-old was sent off at 12-1 for the extended four-mile marathon.
Usually run in testing conditions, the race had a different complexion this season, taking place on a decent surface, and the mud-loving Daklondike must have had an inkling he would not like it as he refused to race for Tom Scudamore.
The good ground did mean there were still plenty in with chances on the final circuit, whereas usually they are strung out like the washing.
Among those who were always handy were the 14-year-old Harry The Viking, Irish raider Kilkishen and Charlie Mann’s Morney Wing.
Paul Nicholls’ dual Scottish National winner Vicente began to back-pedal with a mile to run before taking a late fall, while Ange Des Malberaux and Kimberlite Candy were ridden patiently but never quite got on terms.
Michael Scudamore’s Mysteree hit the front for Brendan Powell late on, but he could not shake of the attentions of Crosspark, who just in the last 50 yards found extra to win by a neck. Morney Wing was six lengths back in third, holding off Kilkishen.
The latter had a bit of a wobble in the paddock afterwards, but having been doused with water he left to a rousing reception from the crowd.
Unfortunately, however, there was a sad postscript to the race, as last year’s winner Baywing suffered a fatal fall at the first fence.
“I’m absolutely thrilled, this is the biggest race I’ve won so it’s very exciting,” said Bailey.
“I’ve won both the hunter chases (Cheltenham with Castle Mane and Aintree with Gunner Welburn), but this is the biggest under rules.
“His owner is 92 so he hasn’t made it up here, it was a bit far for him, but he’ll be delighted and watching on TV.
“He ran a lovely race at Warwick, Harry Skelton rode him and told us to make a plan and stick to it so we picked this race and it has paid off.
“Coming up the straight I was thinking, ‘this doesn’t happen to me, big races on a Saturday’, so I was riding the finish with Jamie, who gave him a great ride.
“Today was the plan. He’s in the Kim Muir (at Cheltenham), but won’t go there, we might think about the Scottish National. If he doesn’t run again this year it’s not the end of the world.”
Moore said: “He dug deep for me and did it well, Mr and Mrs Bailey do a great job.
“He’s a good traveller, I spoke to Harry and he told me about him. He only made one mistake and he’s a real survivor. It’s nice to win a big race.”
Both Moore and Powell were handed four-day suspensions due to overuse of the whip.