STOW trainer David Bridgwater breathed a huge sigh of relief after Wyck Hill won the Betfred Eider Chase at Newcastle on Saturday in the colours of JP McManus.
The famous Irish owner, who is Jonjo O’Neill’s landlord and main benefactor at his Jackdaws Castle yard in Temple Guiting, bought the 10-year-old just over 12 months ago and but for one respectable run at the Punchestown Festival it has been one disappointment after another.
Reunited with Tom Scudamore, who has an excellent record on the Crabbie's Grand National entry, Wyck Hill travelled through the race with an enthusiasm he had not shown since beating Katenko at Ascot in December, 2012, the performance which sparked McManus' interest.
At the finish, he held off McManus' other runner Smoking Aces, the 6-1 favourite trained by O’Neill, by three-quarters of a length to take the £37,000 first prize.
But it won’t help him make the final list of 40 runners in the National as he is currently 96th on the list.
"That was awesome," said Bridgwater of the 9-1 winner. “Tom knows him so well and he's seen out the trip well there.
"That's my first winner for JP and having a horse for him is like getting the royal seal of approval.
"If he doesn't get in the National we'll take that, it was a big race today and it's great to win it.”