Rainbow sparkles in Melling
Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Finian's Rainbow had no trouble stepping up in distance in the John Smith's Melling Chase at Aintree.
The nine-year-old looked to have stamina limitations early in the season but following a determined victory in the two-mile championship at last month's Cheltenham Festival, he was the 13-8 favourite for this two-and-a-half-mile Grade One.
Nicky Henderson's gelding travelled with his customary panache and though Wishfull Thinking stuck to him doggedly, Finian's Rainbow was going easily the best of the pair approaching the final fence and he jumped it fast and low to seal a seven-length victory.
Henderson said: "Last year as a novice he was trying to do everything in a terrible rush. He was only a bit quieter here last year because he'd had a hard race at Cheltenham. He grew up last summer for some reason and suddenly became sensible. This season he's been much more amenable.
"You'd always expect this fella to stay. Last year he looked an out and out two-miler because he was doing it in such a rush. Today he was always in a comfortable position just behind and you just hoped he was in cruise control and he probably was. When he switched him on he picked it up very quickly.
"We've got all summer to think about next season, but we're in a good position to be able to think about things. He's won the Champion Chase, he's won this. He goes to bed with all the medals."
Owner Michael Buckley added: "He's had his doubters, but that should put them to sleep now. He had been very keen, but over the summer he became a very amenable creature and that has affected him in his races.
"I think he outstayed Sizing Europe up the Cheltenham hill - I don't believe the opinion that it was only the fact they bypassed the last fence that enabled him to win.
"We have lots of options for next year now. I know Nicky was very coy but I imagine, all being well, we might consider trying three miles next season and maybe go for the King George. Nicky has about three horses for it already, but he can have four."
Wishfull Thinking's trainer Philip Hobbs said: "It's good to see him back and he ran a much better race. It's been a very frustrating season, but we schooled him straight away after Cheltenham and he's been absolutely fine. We'd have to think about Punchestown, as it's not very far away."