He just took off: Always Waining surges to a Topham hat-trick at AintreePICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
Always Waining lands historic Topham treble
Report: Aintree, Friday
John Smith´s Topham Chase Handicap (Grade 3) 2m5f
ALWAYS WAINING notched a remarkable Topham hat-trick under Tom O'Brien. The 11-1 shot is the first horse to win the handicap for a third time in the race's 63-year history.
Three contenders were in line at the last but the Peter Bowen-trained 11-year-old put on the turbos to surge clear to a comfortable success.
Chance Du Roy finished four and a half lengths back in second, Fistral Beach was third and the ever-prominent Aimigayle came home in fourth.
O'Brien said: "That's absolutely amazing. He gives everyone who rides him a really a great spin round here. I'm absolutely delighted about that.
"He heard the crowd and just took off. This lad just took off, amazing."
There were 19 finishers from the 26-strong field which was led along by 6-1 favourite Little Josh under Sam Twiston-Davies with Aimigayle in close order. The first four home were always prominent and when LittleJosh started to surrender his position at the Open Ditch they were all well placed to play their hand.
Absolutely amazing: Tom O'BrienPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Richard Johnson was first act on 16-1 shot Chance Du Roy, closely followed by Fistral Beach. The winner was travelling smoothly into serious contention approaching the last.
The trio were in a line for a brief spell, but at the Elbow the thrusters kicked in and Always Waining romped clear to a historic victory.
Bowen, who also won the Topham in 2007 with Dunbrody Millar, said: "The horse just loves Aintree. I wanted to go for the National but Peter [Douglas, owner] rang me yesterday and said that with the ground getting softer he wanted to go for the Topham. If he's still got his enthusiasm we'll bring him back next year and try to win it again."
Third-placed Fistral Beach failed to return to the winner's enclosure but trainer Paul Nicholls reported there was nothing amiss. He said: "He's absolutely fine - he'd just got a bit hot. They put a lot into these races so I should think that's it for the season, but he travelled and jumped well and ran a good race."