©Healy Racing Photos
By Gary Carson
The evergreen 14-year-old Hello Bud rolled back the years to land the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree for a second time.
Racing in the colours of his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, the popular veteran has always saved his best for the famous Grand National fences and proved that the flame still burned brightly.
Adopting his usual position at the head of affairs, there may have been some concern when he was headed by Gullible Gordon but he was back in front with three fences to jump.
The challengers were queueing up behind with Big Fella Thanks, Swing Bill and Join Together all travelling notably well at various points in the closing stages.
David Pipe's grey was the first to crack with Join Together also coming under pressure but Paddy Brennan still appeared to be swinging along aboard Big Fella Thanks.
Brennan switched his mount to challenge at the top of the elbow but his mount couldn't pick up and it was the unexposed Join Together to throw down the strongest challenge.
Sam Twiston-Davies and the veteran were not to be denied, however, and Paul Nicholls' charge - half the age of his rival - had to settle for second.
The winning margin in a thrilling renewal was just a neck with a length and a quarter back to Big Fella Thanks and Swing Bill who prevailed in a bunch finish for the minor placings.
The winning jockey said: "He absolutely ran his heart out for me. He means everything to me. I just can't tell you just how much I love his horse.
"His lass, Gemma McQuillan, rides him out every day and much of the credit should go to her but I get to sit on him some mornings.
"He's given us so much pleasure over the years. It's such an emotional moment."
Twiston-Davies senior was even more emotional in his celebrations. "I do feel sorry for his ex-owner Seamus Murphy," he said. "He gave him to me for which I am very grateful.
"The run-in was just awful but thank goodness he hung on. As to the future, let's see. How can you really say retire when he obviously enjoys it so much?
"He kept going all the way to the line and as he jumped round there, he looked like a horse who was having a nice time. He is 14 and some people say retire, retire, but when horses are as happy as him what can you do? Why should we put them out in the field?"