Spin bowls them over
American Spin made virtually every yard of the running in a thrilling Pertemps Network Long Distance Handicap Hurdle at Haydock.
The 10-1 shot had been narrowly beaten into second at Aintree a month ago and went one better under a positive ride from Jamie Moore.
The challengers were queuing up rounding the home turn for the final time, and it seemed just a matter of time before American Spin would be swallowed up.
But the eight-year-old refused to fold and gave his jockey everything after the final flight to win a titanic tussle with Howizee by a head.
Winning trainer Luke Dace said: "Winning good races like this is what it's all about and part of him is for sale.
"Everyone who sees him says he's too small to jump a fence, but I promise you, Jamie has schooled him over fences and he's been foot-perfect - he'll be an even better horse when he goes chasing.
"He has just kept improving with every run and he must be the best horse I've ever trained now.
"It's difficult to know how good he is as he looks beat and you think you've got to the bottom of him, and he just keeps pulling out more.
"He'll probably have a break now and we'll probably mix hurdling and chasing after that.
"Hopefully he'll do well in long-distance chases and I wouldn't mind taking him to France at some stage as he loves soft ground."
There was a complete change of tack a little over half an hour later as a clutch of two-year-olds contested the six-furlong Buckley's Silver Wedding Anniversary Maiden Stakes.
Six of the seven runners had never been on the racecourse before and it was one of those, Euxton Hall (4-1), who turned in a most impressive winning display.
Ridden by Paul Hanagan for his old boss Richard Fahey, the juvenile swept past the once-raced Barracuda Boy and then saw off Annunciation, coming home with a length and a quarter in hand.
Fahey's assistant, Robin O'Ryan, said: "He did it nicely and Paul was very happy with everything he did.
"He has always been quite smart and has a great temperament. We've always really liked him at home."
Asked if a trip to Royal Ascot could be on the agenda, O'Ryan said: "I'd imagine it will be in the pipeline, but we'll have to speak to the trainer."
Last season's Ayr Gold Cup hero Our Jonathan made a winning return to action in the Network Healthcare Conditions Stakes.
It was no penalty kick for the 15-8 favourite, pitched in against two Group One-winning sprinters in Markab and Regal Parade.
The latter proved the biggest danger passing the furlong marker, but Our Jonathan quickened up smartly in the hands of Franny Norton to win comfortably by three-quarters of a length.
Winning owner Dr Marwan Koukash was on hand fresh from three days at his beloved Chester, where he enjoyed three winners.
He said: "I think Our Jonathan is improving and he is getting back to where he was as a juvenile, when he won a Group Two.
"He likes soft ground and he could come back here for a Listed race in a few weeks. He could go to Royal Ascot if the ground is soft enough."
Mark Johnston's 3-1 shot Licence To Till led his rivals a merry dance under Joe Fanning in the closing Network Sales & Marketing Handicap.