The tremendously tough Across The Bay pulled out all the stops to claim a thrilling Betfred Mobile Lotto Hurdle, better known as the Rendlesham, at Haydock.
Last seen finishing seventh under top-weight in the Welsh National at Chepstow, the 9-1 shot adopted his customary front-running tactics back over the smaller obstacles but appeared a sitting duck as he rounded the home turn.
Market principals Trustan Times and Kentford Grey Lady moved ominously well, while 2011 Rendlesham winner Cross Kennon was also bang there, and in a barnstorming finish Across The Bay dug deepest for Henry Brooke to take the Grade Two prize by a length and a quarter. Trustan Times was second.
The winning jockey said: "He's a bit older and bit wiser these days, but he's there when you need him. If you keep asking, he'll keep finding. He does seem to be still improving."
McCain added: "We tidied his wind up the day after the Welsh National and it confuses us a bit about where we go now. He's top-weight wherever he goes over fences, but I think that will have done him good."
The John Smith's Grand National at Aintree could be next up for Across The Bay and BetVictor left him unchanged at 40-1 for the world's most famous steeplechase.
Seymour Eric (7-2) could be Cheltenham-bound after securing his fourth win on the bounce in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle.
Winning trainer Martin Keighley said: "He destroyed them today. We'll see what mark he gets now. He could go for the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham and he is in the Albert Bartlett as well."
Cottage Oak (9-4 favourite) streaked 13 lengths clear in the concluding CGA Foxhunter Trial.
2 September 2014Towcester not "turning its back"
Demuro booked for Moon Arc prep
Chicquita nears return
Murphy excited by Purse
Surprise Matron aim for Tapestry
Maguire nearing racecourse return
Estimate among bumper Cup entry
Maguire hails 'fantastic' Peddlers
Balding staying grounded with Park
Culloty joins Leger Legends
Regard among September possibles
Cox takes Haydock plunge with Love
Paddy gunning for Chepstow
Athenian has sales date
No hurry for Cape call
Mirza on Abbaye trail
1 September 2014McCain salutes retiring Peddlers
Seven Towcester meetings go to ARC
Further checks for Condon
Due set to miss Sprint date
Condon 'stable' after Cork fall
Queen rules supreme for Smith
River eases to debut success
Carla tops it up to four
Atzeni strikes on Cappella
Ocean team want Haydock rain
Big time beckons for Orange
Palmer aims high with Aktabantay
Hills ponders Dutch gameplan
31 August 2014Atzeni strikes on Cappella
Imminent return Likely
Logic on comeback trail
Dan edges closer to Mile high
Keane error costly for Unrequited
Notarfbad makes all in Mildmay
Orange enjoys Big win
Fabre strikes with Fintry
Akta in late Solario swoop
Icon takes starring role
Pearl fires home in Bullet
Shortall suffers injury setback
Tent team consider chasing
30 August 2014Keane error costly for Unrequited
Shepherd's sent to Tower
Time will tell for Charlton
Stack filly Alive to chance
Sansevero sent to Tower
Palmer plots Solario success
Fabre has high hopes for Fintry
Belardo team keen on Champagne
Rigueur targets Chester consolation
Native in hunt for Bullet gains
Arc still target for Taghrooda