ALTHOUGH Champion jockey Richard Johnson may not have had a ride in the Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, Johnson did taste success with the local Much Marcle stable of Tom Lacey as they teamed up with Thomas Patrick to win the three mile one furlong Betway Handicap Chase.

Leading from the outset on the Mildmay course Johnson stretched the sixteen runner field and had most of them in trouble at the second last fence where Johnson asked his mount for a further effort and the progressive bold jumping six year old stayed on well for Johnson to record a four length 3/1 success over runner-up On Tour.

Lacey commented afterwards: "It was incredible. I was standing near the winning post and I couldn't see too clearly what was happening, but I could see that every time he was landing he was landing in front, and I thought he should be able to stay there. In the end he did it easily enough. He's a super jumper - his jumping puts everyone to the sword behind him and this ground plays to his strengths. He's able to jump out of it and put everyone under pressure behind him. The Ladbrokes Trophy could possibly be a target for next season.” he added.

This provided a meeting double for Lacey as on the second day of the Aintree three day festival his Jester Jet had dug deep to claim top honours in the Alder Hey Children's Charity Handicap Hurdle for jockey Robbie Dunne.

Racing in midfield for much of the way he made progress rounding the home turn and challenged jumping the second last flight, where fellow Herefordshire runner Eaton Hill from Kerry Lee’s yard and the Alan King-trained pair of 13-2 favourite Who Dares Wins and Wilde Blue Yonder all challenged .

But Jester Jet did enough to hold them at bay, gallantly battling on to score by three-quarters of a length from the Lee trained Eaton Hill.

Lacey said after Jester Jet’s win: "That was a super performance, I was a bit nervous bringing her here when the ground got really soft. She was in the three-miler, too, but on this ground we went for the shorter trip. She's such a strong traveller and everything worked out. The owner bred her as well so it's a special day."

This completed a memorable Aintree meeting for Lacey as his two other runners at the three day meeting yielded a second with Kateson in the G2 Weatherbys Racing Bank National Hunt flat race and a fourth with Meep Meep in the Goffs Nickel Coin Mares' Flat race.

Richard Johnson had also scored on the second day of the meeting in the Grade one Novice Hurdle aboard Lalor for Somerset trainer Kayley Woollacott.

Meanwhile Lee's Top Gamble finished eighth in the Handicap Chase on Friday and Gino Trial took third in Thursday's Red Rum Handicap Chase.