VINTAGE Clouds returned to his best to make most of the running and provide jockey Danny Cook with a fourth win in the Grade 2 Peter Marsh Handicap Chase at Haydock.
The grey has run several brave races in defeat down the years, finishing placed at the last two Cheltenham Festivals as well as third in the 2018 Scottish Grand National.
He was quietly fancied for the Grand National at AIntree last year when falling at the first, but he showed when running back at Aintree in the Becher Chase earlier this season that he is not in love with the fences.
While a return to Liverpool is unlikely, there is still plenty of mileage left in him yet, with Danny Cook asking for several big leaps and apart from one occasion Vintage Clouds responded.
Having won the race on Our Vic for David Pipe as well as twice for Sue Smith already with Cloudy Too and Wakanda, Cook once again showed off his skills in a staying chase.
With Sue and Harvey Smith on holiday in Spain, it was left to owner Trevor Hemmings’ racing manager Mick Meagher to sing his praises.
He's back!— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 18, 2020
Vintage Clouds (7-1) runs riot under more prominent tactics in the Peter Marsh, yet more success in this race for @CookDannyJockey and @suesmithracing ??
Results ? https://t.co/glajGV55GR pic.twitter.com/Bivm0U9JPe
“It’s great to win a big one with him, he deserved it,” said Meagher. “He just didn’t like Aintree, I don’t think he’ll be going back there, but he jumped great today because he can kick the odd one out of the ground.
“That was the plan – today. We always thought he was a National horse, but he just doesn’t like it so we might go back to Cheltenham for the race he was second in last year (Ultima) and then maybe the Scottish National. He could even come back here for the National Trial.”
Cook said: “He didn’t take to the fences at Aintree, but they’ve done a good job on him at home and he got his confidence back when third in the Tommy Whittle here.
“His home work has been A1 and when I schooled him on Wednesday I was just a passenger, he was fantastic.
“He jumping was good apart from at one but that was my fault, I let the bit go in his mouth. You need to keep the bit high in his mouth when you ask him as it just gives him confidence.
“He can drop the bridle going down the back so I just wanted to keep in contention, but when I was still in front turning in I didn’t think anything would get by me.
“I’ve ridden some good horses in this race, I’ve been lucky.”