By Frank Keogh
BBC Sport, Aintree
Champion trainer Martin Pipe was given a lift in his fight to retain his title as Tiutchev triumphed on the opening day of Aintree's Grand National meeting.
He is locked in a neck-and-neck fight with Paul Nicholls to be top trainer, and the £87,000 prize money for winning the Martell Cognac Cup, nudged him ahead.
Pipe was watching the victory at home in Somerset as he oversees his squad of seven contenders for Saturday's Grand National.
And assistant trainer Chester Barnes told BBC Sport the stable were hopeful of victory in the big race itself with Jurancon II, which would effectively seal the championship.
"We wouldn't want it to rain too much, but if it's good ground, he will have a hell of a chance with luck in running," he said.
Champion jockey Tony McCoy was seen at his best as he guided Tiutchev to victory, and thus denied First Gold a third win in the race.
Barnes said McCoy, who has never won the National, had told him before the fixture that Jurancon II was his best prospect of a winner over all three days of the meeting.
After winning on Tiutchev, McCoy said: "I seriously believe Jurancon II has a big chance on Saturday.
"I know I have ridden horses who have been favourites or thereabouts for the last five years, but I genuinely believe he has the right credentials."
Pipe will fly up on Saturday for the National, but has been keenly following all the action.
"He was on the phone before Tiutchev crossed the line. He watches it at home, and we have to report back after every race," said Barnes.
Meanwhile, trainer Jonjo O'Neill was aiming high after Iris's Gift completed a Cheltenham-Aintree double by winning the Liverpool Hurdle.
O'Neill said the Stayers' Hurdle winner would be sent chasing over fences, and could become a Cheltenham Gold Cup contender in the future.
"He is a horse who loves a battle," said O'Neill.