DAVID Pipe won his fourth successive Betfred Midlands Grand National as 13-2 favourite Goulanes scooped the marathon contest.
After wins for Minella Fourstar, Master Overseer and Big Occasion in the last three years, Pipe probably felt lightning could not strike for a fourth time.
However, Richard Johnson, on board instead of Tom Scudamore, who was switched to Kempton at the 11th hour, never looked in any danger.
A decent novice last term, he ran behind Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere in the RSA Chase 12 months ago, but he had shown little in two starts this season. With first time headgear on, though, Goulanes stayed on stronger than Alpha Victor for the small yard of Will Kinsey in second.
West End Rocker made a bold bid from the front and hung on to third with Summery Justice in fourth.
Top weight Harry Topper made an early blunder and was beaten a long way out.
Goulanes is owned by Roger Brookhouse, who saw his colours carried to victory by the Pipe-trained Western Warhorse in the Arkle at Cheltenham.
Johnson, who had two winners at the Festival himself, said: “He was very good, they went a really hard gallop early on, the ground is drying but it’s tacky and hard work.
“He jumped well bar the third last, Tom Scudamore said to humour him a bit but he jumped the last well.
“He’s a bit of a character but he’s got ability. When he got to the front he was looking at everything.
“It’s been a great week.”
Brookhouse said: “The ground was drying up at Cheltenham so we decided to come here. Kim Bailey (Harry Topper’s trainer) walked the track and said there was juice in it so that was good enough for me.
“As long as it was soft enough we thought he had a good chance.”
Meanwhile, Tony McCoy gave up his rides at Kempton yesterday.
The champion jockey rode through the pain barrier at Cheltenham through the week after being brought down on Goodwood Mirage on the opening day in the Fred Winter. McCoy stated after winning the JLT Novices’ Chase on Taquin Du Seuil the following day that he very nearly never took the mount as he was in so much pain. A closing race fall in the Grand Annual from Mr Mole did not help matters.
Jonjo O’Neill, who provides the majority of McCoy’s rides, said: “He’s just battered and bruised. He wants to take a couple of weeks off, that’s what he should do, not a couple of days.”
And Scot Graham Wylie, the owner of On His Own, announced that he has decided not to appeal the decision of the Cheltenham stewards who left the placings unaltered following an inquiry into the Gold Cup. The Willie Mullins-trained On His Own was carried to his right by the winner Lord Windermere inside the final 100 yards and the stewards took a good 15 minutes to decide that the interference was not severe enough to alter the outcome.
Wylie said he would talk to all his party before deciding what to do but said yesterday: “Of course we’re not appealing, that wouldn’t be a very sporting thing to do. He ran a great race and I’m so proud of him.”