Scottish Grand National hero Takingrisks came with a wet sail to claim another big-race success in the Betfair Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle.
Having rounded off last season with victory at Ayr, the Nicky Richards-trained 10-year-old was back at the Scottish circuit for his return to action four weeks ago, finishing fifth over hurdles.
Reverting to the larger obstacles, Takingrisks went on his way at 20-1 shot the £70,00 finale at Gosforth Park – and looked booked for minor honours at best as the front-running Top Ville Ben jumped the first fence in the home straight in a commanding lead.
Even approaching the final obstacle Phil Kirby’s charge looked home for all money, but as he ran out of petrol on the run-in, Takingrisks was just getting going under Sean Quinlan and got up to prevail by three-quarters of a length.
Captain Chaos beat a weary Top Ville Ben to the runner-up spot.
Richards said: “They got away from him a bit going by the wood there and I wondered whether it was going to happen or not, but stamina came into play in the end – he’s got bundles of it.
“He’s one of those lovely late-developing horses. We don’t over-race them and they carry that improvement on through their life.”
Betfair cut Takingrisks to 40-1 from 66-1 for the Randox Health Grand National – and Richards plans to discuss a trip to Merseyside next spring with the veteran’s owner, Frank Bird.
“It’s all to be discussed what is going to happen now. I’d say the handicapper might give him a fair old belt,” the Greystoke handler added.
“I’d run him at Aintree all day long, but it’s up to the owners.
“He jumps and keeps galloping and you saw how he travelled in the Scottish National.
“He’s a wonderful horse – just the type of horse my father (Gordon Richards) would have loved.”