Night In Milan had his day in the early spring sunshine at Doncaster with a bold jumping performance to take the William Hill Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster.
Keith Reveley’s eight-year-old won on Town Moor on his penultimate start but was pulled up in the Sky Bet Chase back there a month later in soft ground.
Back on a sound surface, he set out to make the running but had Golden Call for company for much of the three and a quarter miles.
However, from the third last he was in front on his own and he jumped superbly in the hands of the trainer’s son James as he saw off Storm Survivor and Renard by five lengths and a short head.
Night In Milan was cut to 50-1 from 66-1 for the Crabbie’s Grand National with Ladbrokes, but he needs more than 30 horses to come out to get a run in the Aintree showpiece.
Reveley senior will give the horse an entry in the Topham Chase over the National fences at the same meeting as a back-up.
“He’s in the National and we’ll have to see if he gets in. If he doesn’t he’ll go for the Topham,” said the trainer.
“We’ll have him in both and he’ll go for the National if he does get in.
“He’s such a brilliant jumper. His owner Richard Collins is keen for him to jump the Aintree fences so we’ll see.
“Personally I’d like to see him in the Topham this year and National next year, but we’ll see. He’s only a young horse.
“He’s got to have his ground. He’s got to bounce off good ground. He’s a smashing horse.”
Leading National fancy Monbeg Dude made good late headway to finish a satisfactory fifth.
His trainer Michael Scudamore said “The dream is still alive. He hasn’t had a hard race. Paul (Carberry) couldn’t get him into it to give him a hard race.
“We wanted to get a good blow into him and it’s all systems going forward.”
It was a red-letter day for the Reveleys with Victor Hewgo (4-5 favourite) booking his ticket to Aintree after easily disposing of his two rivals in the Park Hill Hospital Novices’ Chase.
The trainer immediately nominated the Grade One Mildmay Novices’ Chase for the nine-year-old, who was also ridden by his son, following his convincing 11-length win over Cowards Close.
“He’s a lovely horse and we may as well have a go at the Grade One at Aintree we won with Cab On Target (in 1993),” said Reveley.
“We’ll skip Cheltenham and go there a fresh horse. It will either work or it won’t. He’s definitely better on quick ground.”
Trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Barry Geraghty weighed in with a double courtesy of Mayfair Music and Tistory.
The well-backed Mayfair Music stepped up on her debut success over jumps to take the William Hill - Bet On the Move Mares’ Novice Hurdle.