Party Business showed great heart to fend off Ilikedwayurthinkin at the EFT Construction Handicap Hurdle, the opening event of the Randox Grand National Day in Aintree.
Trained by Ian Williams and ridden by 3-pound claimant Charlie Todd, Party Business (11-2) was making the most of his homecoming as he jumped second to last in the lead in the extended three-way contest miles.
However, Illikedwayurthinkin seemed to be trailing and it looked certain that the 16-1 shot would turn Party Business as the pair approached the last in unison.
Illikedwayurthinkin may have just taken the lead in the line race, but Party Business delivered on all of Todd’s demands and ultimately came away with a three-quarter winner. Mill Green was a further 12 lengths in third.
Williams said: “It looked a bit tricky for him but he finished strong. He was nearly taken down twice but it was a solid run from the last one and a real battle, with the first two well cleared It’s always better to be on the winner than the second.
“It’s great for the owners, Mark (Sheasby, Eventmasters). They’ve been with me for a long time and brought around 1,000 today. One of our original horses, Latchford, was owned by Mark.
“It’s great to be here on the big stage. He was actually anti-come to Liverpool and when they walked past the stands on the first circuit I thought he was probably right, luckily he gained his trust and made a remarkable effort.
“I think that will be it for this season and he will probably go hunting next season, maybe with a hurdle race first.”
Of the runner-up, coach Gavin Cromwell added: “It was a good run. We’ll see how he goes, but we could watch Punchestown.”