Former equine invalid Midnight Shot, who carries the colours of Lytham businessman Alan Halsall, made a remarkable return to winning ways months after fracturing his skull in a fall.
The comeback came on the first day of racing at the home of the jumps, Cheltenham, the track where the horse suffered the injury.
Midnight Shot turned in a fine, front-running performance as theed the six-year-old land the Join The Jockey Club Ownership Syndicate Handicap Hurdle.
The son of Midnight Legend kept finding more and came home three and a quarter lengths clear of Valhalla
Trainer Charlie Longsdon said: “Midnight Shot fractured his skull here last year when he was brought down by a horse that clipped heels.
“It ruined the middle half of the season because it took him three runs to get his confidence back and it was only at the end of the season that he started getting going.
“It probably gave him the chance to start this season slightly better handicapped than normal.
“I didn’t really expect him to control the race today. The instructions were if he ends up in front fine but just ride him wherever he is comfortable. Aidan Coleman gave him a lovely ride and he got into a beautiful rhythm which makes all the difference around here. It was a really good, strong performance.
“This was the initial plan and Aidan said it is worth running him in a Pertemps qualifier to see if he gets three miles.
“If he does that will open up plenty of doors, especially in the spring at Cheltenham or Aintree or wherever. He is an improving horse and hopefully after today he will improve again.”
Coleman commented: “He is very uncomplicated, love jumping and loves bowling along at his own speed which is exactly what he did.
“I had to feel him up a couple of times but I have to give him the credit he deserves - he has a good attitude.
He is a fantastic, athletic jumper and I would say the less you do on him, the better.”
Midnight Shot is owned by Halsall, who is a director at Aintree racecourse and is a long-standing supporter of the jumps game.