Clan Des Obeaux completed a notable hat-trick on the opening day of the 2021 Aintree meeting with victory in the Betway Bowl.
It was the third Grade One win of the day for ex-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and his co-owners.
Harry Cobden had the 5-2 favourite, trained by Paul Nicholls, in front from a long way out and comfortably beat Clondaw Castle by 26 lengths.
Tiger Roll finished fourth but was never really in contention.
“I think that’s my first hat-trick in Liverpool – I don’t think they’ll be too pleased,” laughed Ferguson afterwards.
“That’s the best day I’ve had in my time in racing. Harry rode a positive race and he was fantastic.
“It is different to when I was managing my football teams – I was in control of what was going to happen on the pitch, but I’m not in control of that [on the racetrack] as the trainer does all of that and as an owner you hope it goes well.
“You do get the same excitement when you win big races like that as it does get you very excited.”
Ferguson and co had started the day on a high when the 17-2 chance Protektorat, trained by Dan Skelton and ridden by Skelton’s brother Harry, won the opening Novices Chase.
They were in the winner’s circle again when the odds-on favourite Monmiral, ridden by Cobden, and trained by Nicholls, was an impressive winner of the Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle.
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But Clan Des Obeaux was the most impressive with first-time cheekpieces helping the two-time King George VI Chase winner.
Clondaw Castle loomed large as they approached the straight but Cobden found another gear as the pair stormed to a comfortable victory with Native River a further 18 lengths back in third.
Nicholls said the decision not to run the nine-year-old at last month’s Cheltenham Festival had paid dividends.
“When he’s been here before he’s had two hard races in the Gold Cup so the best thing we did was not take him there, it makes such a big difference as it’s hard to do both,” he said.
“He’s actually in the Bet365 Chase at Sandown [on 24 April] and he doesn’t get a penalty, so that could be interesting. I’ve always thought that race would suit him.
“We didn’t put him in at Punchestown, but I did say if we could win this we could always supplement.”
Cousin Pascal was a shock 66-1 winner of the Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase for amateur riders, named in honour of former Aintree chairman Rose Paterson who took her own life last June.
It was a second win in the race for James King who was successful on Dineur four years ago.
He had Cheshire trainer Joe O’Shea’s nine-year-old in contention throughout and made a telling move just past the Elbow to win by two-and-a-half lengths.
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