Lie Forrit wins at Haydock; Balder Succes claims Ascot Chase
Lie Forrit claimed an emotional Grand National Trial victory at Haydock in a pulsating finish from Harry The Viking.
The 11-year-old, ridden by Peter Buchanan for trainer Lucinda Russell, triumphed by a head.
It was a 12th career win for the horse. Seven of those came for the late jockey Campbell Gillies, whose mother Lesley is one of the owners.
Balder Succes won the Ascot Chase, in which Ptit Zig was a faller, while Champagne Fever scored in Ireland.
The Willie Mullins-trained Champagne Fever ran out a comfortable winner of the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park.
He is now as short as 4-1 for the the Queen Mother Champion Chase at next month's Cheltenham Festival, where previous champions Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy are potential opponents.
|Analysis - BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght|
|"What a thoroughly likeable horse Lie Forrit is. Back in the form of his life, the veteran simply refused to lie down as he got the better of a duel with Harry The Viking.|
|"His weight will go up now, but likely drier conditions at Ayr in late April for the Scottish National will suit.|
|"And it's amazing how often athletes, whether two-legged or four, are swept along on a wave of emotion, in this case because of the connection to Campbell Gillies."|
At Haydock, Lie Forrit was a gutsy winner of the feature race, with 19 lengths back to to the AP McCoy-ridden Monbeg Dude in third.
"I love this race, that's the third time we have won it, Silver By Nature (dual winner) was a legend and so is this lad," said Russell, who will aim Lie Forrit at the Scottish National at Ayr in April.
Earlier, unbeaten Triumph Hurdle hope Top Notch lived up to his name with a fifth win on the trot.
Blue Heron (3-1) was driven to victory by Harry Skelton in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.
Skelton, riding for his trainer brother Dan, got the better of a little battle with Nick Scholfield on favourite Irving before powering clear.
Balder Succes, trained by Alan King, is now a 6-1 chance for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham after his odds were halved following his Ascot success under Wayne Hutchison.
Meanwhile, Cappa Bleu - twice placed in the Grand National at Aintree - has been retired by Evan Williams after the 13-year-old was pulled up in the handicap chase.