Donald McCain is to weigh up a crack at the Coral Welsh National with Across The Bay after his stylish victory in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Graduation Chase at Carlisle.
A smart dual-purpose performer when trained in Ireland by Noel Meade, he had been campaigned exclusively over hurdles since joining McCain for the start of last season.
But switched back to the bigger obstacles and racing against Grand National fourth Cappa Bleu, who will have pleased his trainer Evan Williams in second, albeit 28 lengths adrift, Across The Bay (10/11 favourite) jumped with aplomb. The eight-year-old made virtually every yard under Jason Maguire.
"We went back over fences not knowing how he'd take to it having had a bit of a fright in the Irish National," said McCain on Racing UK.
"The owners had some great days at Cheltenham and Aintree last season but he's definitely going the right way.
"He jumps, he gallops, he stays and he's got a grand way about him.
"We were schooling him over fences even though he was running over hurdles. What I will say is that he possibly enjoys a small field but that's to be found out further down the line.
"You can't knock him, he's doing everything right at the moment.
"The Welsh National has to be on our minds. I hadn't really looked beyond today to be honest but he has to be in calculations as he goes on the ground and stays all day."