Night's day at Haydock
Night Alliance picked himself off the floor to resume his improvement with a stylish win in the One Stop Energy Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock.
Dr Richard Newland's eight-year-old looked a horse on a steep upward curve as he headed to Kelso just 13 days ago, but he took a crashing fall at the Borders track.
Newland took the brave step of running him again after some schooling at home but admitted he did not know how the fall would have affected Night Alliance's confidence.
He need not have worried.
Leighton Aspell produced him beautifully in the home straight and drew clear of No Planning, who lost no caste in defeat but was eventually passed for second near the line by Loch Ba, some 11 lengths in arrears of the winner.
"We'd schooled him at home since Kelso and he'd been fine, but obviously we couldn't be sure if it had a lasting effect," Newland of the 12-1 winner.
"Previously he'd been quite progressive and I'm just glad he's picked up where he left off.
"It was a nasty fall at Kelso - he could never get into a rhythm there - but it was such a bad fall we could have lost him.
"I don't know where he'll go next, he can run over two-five or three miles and we might look at Cheltenham at the end of January.
"Another win and he might sneak into a race at the Festival."
The success capped a great day for Aspell, who also took the Listed Call 08006118377 OSE Mares' Novices' Hurdle with Carole's Spirit to present Robert Walford with the biggest win of his fledgling training career.
Don Cantillon's As I Am had won a similar race at Newbury and, despite being burdened with a 5lb penalty here, jockey Conor Shoemark again employed forcing tactics.
Keshi Pearl had looked the likely winner turning into the straight but her effort was short-lived as As I Am went back in front.
Aspell had still not asked for everything on the 2-1 favourite, though, and Carole's Spirit battled on gamely to win by two and a half lengths.
"Leighton always thought he was getting there, but I wasn't as confident," said Walford.
"We won't go for the mares' final at Newbury, she'd have top weight and you can't win that with top weight.
"We might look at the Grade Two over three miles at Ascot in January (Warfield Mares' Hurdle, January 18) she'd stay the trip all right.
"She doesn't need it soft, she was third in a Listed bumper at Aintree on good."
Sue Smith notched an across-the-card double when Mwaleshi showed the benefit of experience in the onestopenergy.co.uk Novices' Chase - 20 minutes after stablemate Blakemount won at Newcastle.
Paul Nicholls' Valco De Touzaine set out to make it a real test under Ryan Mahon, but the testing conditions began to take their toll on the pacesetter.
Jonathan England grabbed the rail turning into the straight aboard Mwaleshi (4-1) and saw out the trip in a stronger fashion to strike by five lengths.
Harvey Smith, the Bingley handler's husband, said: "I just hope the handicapper doesn't go overboard or he could prove hard to place.
"The second had a silly rating, in my opinion."
Leviathan showed plenty of guts when getting off the mark for the season in the Terry Rugg Memorial Handicap Hurdle.
The Venetia Williams-trained six-year-old had run well at Uttoxeter 11 days ago but looked booked for a place at best when Hartside was produced between the last two flights and looked the likely winner.
However, Liam Treadwell was probably glad of the company and his mount, the 3-1 joint-favourite, stuck his neck out well to win by a length, with Irish raider Trucking Along in third.
Granville Island (4-1) was given a patient ride by Sean Quinlan to win the Shirley Leigh Memorial Handicap Chase for Jennie Candlish.