Many Clouds, who carries the colours of PNE owner Trevor Hemmings, put in an exhibition round of jumping as he made a superb seasonal reappearance in the Betfred Lotto '˜Â£100K Cash Giveaway' Chase at Aintree.
The 2015 Grand National hero was last seen being well-beaten in this year’s renewal but showed he still retains his ability as he continued his love affair with the Merseyside venue.
Runner-up in this race 12 months ago, Oliver Sherwoood’s nine-year-old enjoyed himself from flagfall as he and jockey Leighton Aspell continued their successful association.
Le Mercurey kept him company, but it was Minella Rocco who was the big danger when he took a heavy fall at the final fence, before rising to his feet.
Many Clouds (3-1) did not look finished and maintained the gallop to comfortably hold Le Mercurey by three-and-a-half lengths. Irish Cavalier was third.
Trainer Sherwood said: “I couldn’t buy a winner before Saturday, so that’s a relief.
“I’m chuffed to bits, he jumped great, he was exemplary and very relaxed in front which was good to see. I promise he’ll come on for that, he was fit enough to win but Leighton said he took a blow.
“He had a little wind op in the summer and you’re never quite sure how it will affect them when they come under pressure.”