Hello Bud en route to scoring at Aintree under jockey Sam Twiston-DaviesPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
14-year-old Hello Bud records famous victory
Report: Aintree, Saturday
Betfred Becher Handicap Chase (Listed) 3m2f, 6yo+
HELLO BUD raised the roof at Aintree when he held off the late thrust of Join Together to record his second Becher Chase win in three years under Sam Twiston-Davies, riding for his father Nigel.
The popular 14-year-old jumped impeccably throughout and found just enough to score by a fast-diminishing neck from the Paul Nicholls-trained Join Together, who picked up strongly for Grand National-winning jockey Daryl Jacob after The Elbow.
Big Fella Thanks travelled beautifully into contention and looked most likely to swamp the leader, but he found Hello Bud too strong and could finish only third, one place ahead of the David Pipe-trained Swing Bill.
Winning jockey Twiston-Davies said: "He's unbelievable. I can't begin to explain how much this horse means to me. He's 14, but he thinks he's an eight-year-old. You ride him here and he springs into life."
Hello Bud, who finished seventh in last season's John Smith's Grand National behind Neptune Collonges, disputed from the start and had one less rival to worry about after the Peter Bowen-trained Mumbles Head departed at the first fence.
He jumped boldly throughout and was moving nicely at the front as five broke clear after the Canal Turn. The chasing pack, including Join Together, Swing Bill, Big Fella Thanks, tried to make ground on Hello Bud, but he was moving best on the approach for home under his motionless rider.
Once he was asked to lengthen, he found plenty for pressure before the finishers began to close.
Eventual fifth In Compliance, representing Dessie Hughes, stayed on dourly up the inside rail but Join Together, representing the National-winning combination of Nicholls and Jacob, stayed on best.
However, the line came just in time for 14-1 chance Hello Bud to give him the deserved chance to return to the famous winner's enclosure victorious.
The National fences, in use for the first time this season and featuring modifications since last April's showpiece, accounted for three fallers and one unseat - Mumbles Head, Any Currency, Problema Tic and Fabalu. Thankfully, they all returned safely.
Last year's winner and 4-1 favourite West End Rocker, who was eventually pulled up, was under pressure from an early stage and never looked likely to play a part under Robert Thornton.