Watch a full replay of the William Hill Grand National Trial plus reaction from Richard Hobson and Paul O'Brien.
Lord Du Mesnil booked his ticket for another date on Merseyside with a gutsy display in the William Hill Grand National Trial at Haydock.
Second 12 months ago, Richard Hobson’s stable star led them all a merry dance from the outset – and showed stamina and guts aplenty at the finish.
Having seemingly put the race to bed two out, Venetia Williams’ Achille arrived late on the scene but Lord Du Mesnil and Paul O’Brien were not to be denied.
Relishing the thorough test and showing that the extra distance in the Randox Grand National will surely be no problem, the 8-1 chance pulled out more to win by half a length. The Two Amigos ran another creditable race to be third.
A delighted Richard Hobson spoke to Racing TV's Niall Hannity after Lord Du Mesnil's success
“That was a great performance today to carry 2lb more than last year, I’m chuffed to bits,” said Hobson.
“That’s the first time he’s had his ground this year – at Chepstow the ground had been covered for 10 days and was almost good to soft.
“When he gets in that rhythm he’s a hard horse to pass, his jumping is always great on the whole and Paul gave him a lovely ride.
“If it could just be soft for us, over four-miles-two that would be enough, but obviously anything quicker and it’s not going to be his race. I’ve always said the ground is the key to him.
“He’s got an entry in the Ultima (at Cheltenham), but I think we’ll avoid that and keep him fresh for the Grand National. He’s got a beautiful weight and we know he stays well. It’s not every year you have a Grand National horse.”
Hobson – for whom it was a poignant victory, as his father, Russell, a former trainer, died just two weeks ago – added: “Paul knows him inside out, it just hasn’t been his year up to now, the Sefton was too short and at Chepstow it wasn’t soft enough.
“He has overheated in the past, but he didn’t today. Paul got off as a precaution.”
Paul O'Brien on Lord Du Mesnil
The Nick Williams-trained Galahad Quest (12-1) had finished behind Marown when they last met but turned that form around with the favourite in the williamhill.com Best Odds Guaranteed Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.
The two had it between them up the long Haydock straight once The Ferry Master had dropped away, but it was Galahad Quest, who had arguably jumped better, who prevailed by two and a half lengths.
David Noonan was on board and said: “The first-time tongue tie has obviously worked.
“He jumped well in the main, it’s all experience for the future and hopefully he can have a nice career.”
Watch a full replay of the William Hill Rendlesham Hurdle
Third Wind held on from the rallying Lisnagar Oscar to provide Hughie Morrison with a big-race winner in the William Hill Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock.
Not currently in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, the winner was beating last year’s Stayers’ hero, who in turn was returning to form following a wind operation for Rebecca Curtis.
The runner-up was in fact giving 6lb to the winner and only went down by half a length, so it was no surprise to see Lisnagar Oscar cut to 16-1 from 25s for a Festival repeat by Betfair.
Third Wind was dropped right in at the rear by Tom Cannon, as Donna’s Diamond and Lisnagar Oscar ensured it was a true test.
When Donna’s Diamond dropped away, Sean Bowen was left in the lead and held a two-length advantage at the third-last.
Third Wind was closing all the time and took up the running after the final flight, but to Lisnagar Oscar’s credit – and to Curtis’ delight – he battled all the way to the line to be beaten just three-quarters of a length.
The two big disappointments were last year’s winner Emitom and Itchy Feet, both of whom were back over hurdles having been chasing.
“We didn’t put him in the Stayers’ Hurdle because we thought he got beaten fair and square at Ascot (in the Long Walk),” said Morrison.
“He obviously enjoys a flat track and I think he won with a bit in hand probably, he doesn’t do a lot when he hits the front.
“But he was getting 6lb from the second and I think that would put him fourth or fifth in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
“I haven’t spoken to the owner yet and we’ll sit back and enjoy this – and if the owners can’t go to Cheltenham, they’re less interested in going as well. The race at Aintree might appeal.”
Cannon said: “I’ve ridden against him a few times, but this was the first time I’d ridden him. I’d spoken to Tom O’Brien who usually rides, and obviously Hughie who gave me the lowdown.
“We were lucky they went a good gallop and he got in a good rhythm. I was able to stay on the rail, but I didn’t want to hit the front too soon as it’s such a long run-in.
“I was thinking if I had to take a pull and come round that wouldn’t matter, but as it happened I got a clean run.”
For Curtis, all roads now lead to the defence of Lisnagar Oscar’s Stayers’ Hurdle crown.
“I’m really pleased with that. We gave him a wind op and it’s clearly worked. I’m delighted,” she said.
“It’s not easy giving weight away so I’m delighted and it’s next stop Cheltenham.
“Some might have thought it was a fluke last year, but we never have and he always runs his best races at Cheltenham.”Fancy winning a 50" television, a 12-month Racing TV subscription, a Reclining Armchair plus much more? Click here to enter our Ultimate Cheltenham At Home competition!
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