Many Clouds bids to become the first horse to win back-to-back Grand Nationals since Red Rum in 1974, following a decisive victory in Kelso’s feature chase on Sunday.
The 2015 victor made a worthwhile 700-mile round trip to the Borders track for his final race before Aintree next month.
Owner Trevor Hemmings had flown by helicopter to see his Liverpool contender cruise home to land the £32,500 Totepoolliveinfo.com Premier Chase at a well-supported fixture.
“That´s just what the doctor ordered,” enthused trainer Oliver Sherwood, “and it’s all systems go for Aintree now.
“He was electric today, and we needed to give him a run as he might have been too fresh and exuberant at Aintree otherwise,” he added.
The success also marked the second leg of a double for the Lambourn trainer and winning jockey Leighton Aspell.
The pair had earlier accounted for the opening Terry Frame Joiners novices’ hurdle race with 10-11 favourite The Fresh Prince.
“We were going to go for the EBF Final at Sandown yesterday but he got balloted out by one, so Sandown´s loss is Kelso´s gain,” added Sherwood.
Lucinda Russell, who had saddled new recruit Grexit to finish runner-up, also went on to complete a double at the well-supported fixture.
Superior Command made a victorious chasing and handicap debut to land the Cyril Alexander Memorial novices limited handicap chase, before stablemate Voyage A New York posted a decisive victory in the Premier Traffic Management handicap chase.
Lowanbehold, another point-to-point winner making his chasing debut, ran a blinder to take second to Superior Command for Yetholm trainer Sandy Forster.
He is owned by Sandy’s partner, Clive Storey, and was ably ridden by Hawick jockey Jamie Hamilton.
Kelso’s richest card attracted some hot competition, and southern raider Le Prezien captured the feature £37,500 totescoop6 Premier Hurdle race.
Paul Nicholls’ five-year-old was given a run for his money by runner-up The Dutchman, who ran an impressive race for Sandy Thomson’s Greenlaw stable.
Marlee Massie made it four on the bounce to land the concluding Rocky Lion’s Pride of Hazelrigg handicap hurdle race for Fife trainer Nick Alexander and jockey son, Kit, who had recorded his 40th career success at Ayr two days earlier.
“He’s been up for sale on my website for two years but there´s been no takers,” said the winning handler, who described his charge as “a late developer.”
Racing returns to Kelso next Monday (March 21).
1.50 – THE FRESH PRINCE (L Aspell) 10-11 fav; 2, Grexit 66-1; 3, Berkshire Downs 13-8. Seven ran. O Sherwood, Upper Lambourn.
2.20 – SUPERIOR COMMAND (P Buchanan) 4-1; 2, Lowanbehold 18-1; 3, Gold Opera 6-4 fav. Five ran. L Russell, Milnathort.
2.55 – MANY CLOUDS (L Aspell) 11-10 fav; 2, Unioniste 5-1; 3, Carrigdhoun 200-1. Seven ran. O Sherwood.
3.30 – LE PREZIEN (S Twiston-Davies) 13-8 fav; 2, The Dutchman 11-1; 3, Meet the Legend 9-2. Six ran, P Nicholls, Somerset.
4.05 – VOYAGE A NEW YORK (D Fox) 9-4 fav; 2, Suzy’s Music 7-2; 3, Oscar Lateen 3-1. Five ran. L Russell.
4.40 – MARLEE MASSIE (K Alexander) 6-1; 2, See Double You 8-1; 3, Hunters Belt 5-1. Nine ran. N Alexander, Fife.