HARRY Whittington showed that his time running a satellite yard at Sparsholt, near Wantage, for former champion trainer Nicky Henderson was well spent as he saddled his first Grade 1 winner with Arzal at Aintree.

Setting up on his own at his Hill Barn base with just five horses in September 2012, Whittington has made great strides and capped a fantastic season by sending out the six-year-old to gain a landmark success in the Merseyrail Manifesto Novices' Chase.

Jumping boldly at the head of affairs, the 4-1 shot put up a superb performance under Gavin Sheehan to storm home by eight lengths from L'Ami Serge in the two-and-a-half-mile contest.

Whittington, who was recording his 21st winner of the campaign, said: "It's unbelievable. You couldn't write it - it's a fairytale.

"From the day I rode him out in France when we looked at him he oozed quality and I knew he had a proper engine.

"I was involved with Nicky with nice horses and I felt he would not have looked out of place there and he has fulfilled our expectations.

"He may come back here for the Old Roan Chase in October."

Chipping Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon may have been out of luck with Pendra in the Crabbie's Grand National, but he still had cause to celebrate after Zara Hope and Long Lunch posted a 21-1 double at Chepstow.

With heavy rain lashing down at Aintree, conditions became extremely testing and Pendra, a 50-1 outsider, and Aidan Coleman trailed home 13th of the 16 finishers behind 33-1 winner Rule The World.

However, Longsdon enjoyed success down in south Wales, with Graham Watters in the saddle as Zara Hope (7-1) claimed a novices' handicap hurdle and 7-4 favourite Long Lunch landed a handicap chase by 20 lengths.

Owner Tim Radford paid tribute to Somersby, who was retired after finishing fourth to God's Own in the JLT Melling Chase at Aintree on Friday.

The 12-year-old, who was trained by Henrietta Knight at West Lockinge, near Wantage, before moving to Mick Channon's West Ilsley yard when she retired in 2013, won seven of his 41 starts, including the Grade 1 Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot in 2012, earning more than £620,000 in prize-money.

Radford said: "He has run so many times and come second or third in nearly half of them. He's great.

"It will be sad to see him go, but he's done enough."

Somersby will now go to Helen Newbold, who specialises in retraining racehorses at her Wicken base, near Milton Keynes.