HomeHorse RacingMacdermott wins for Willie Mullins

Macdermott wins for Willie Mullins

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Willie Mullins struck a potentially decisive blow in the trainers’ title fight when Macdermott (18/1) won a thrilling renewal of the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr.

Things got off to a worrying start for the Closutton maestro when Mr Incredible pulled himself up before the first and stablemate We’llhavewan unseated his rider at that obstacle but for the rest of the contest his winner could be seen travelling strongly under the trainer’s nephew Danny.

He was in front two out and from there it was a straight shootout with 20/1 runner-up Surrey Quest and there was never more than half-a-length between the pair.

By the line that had been eroded to a nose with the the judge taking four minutes to separate the principals.

For good measure Mullins had the fourth, fifth and sixth courtesy of Klarc Kent (50/1), Ontheropes (66/1) and Spanish Harlem (12/1). Git Maker (8/1) was third.

Betfair and Paddy Power now make the remarkable trainer 1/50 to be the first Irish-handler to land the British crown since the great Vincent O’Brien 70 years go.

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The winning rider told ITV Racing: “That was magic. An unexposed Willie Mullins novice in a staying handicap chase is what you want to be on. He has his jumping issues and we ended up on the deck one day at Limerick and even the fall that day has really taught him to be efficient.

“He made a few mistakes on the way around today, leaving the back one came around my outside and I knew I didn’t want to press him for home that early.

“We went forward after jumping the fourth and third last and he was good and tough when I needed him off the back of the last.

“I’d say the title is far from over, the Skeltons are true battlers and they’ll be coming at us all next week. We’re doing well but it’s not over yet.”

Relief for winning trainer

Mullins admitted he feared the worst as the front two crossed the line, saying: “I thought we were beaten, but then one of my owners opened up the betting on his app and we were favourite and the second horse was 14-1. The odds changed a bit in their favour, but then the result came out.”

Earth Summit famously went on to claim Grand National glory at Aintree and Mullins believes Macdermott could follow in his footsteps.

He told Racing TV: “To me, the way he jumped was spectacular, I’d have no problem aiming him for Aintree next year or for the Irish National, we’ll see but we’ll be aiming for all those chases. He’s got age on his side, so it’s fantastic. He just got experience every day he went out; we started him off at two miles and just kept running him for experience, because he hasn’t got runs under his belt and last year it took me all season to get him fit enough.

“He’s a big, lazy fella and he just takes so much training. And he’s so laid back, but now he’s getting the hang of it and if we can get him in this sort of form, it’ll be straight to those kind of staying chases for him to run in.”

Reflecting on a dramatic race, Mullins – still riding high after Aintree glory with I Am Maximus a week ago – said: “We had one go before the first and one fall at the first, then we had two up the front and two out the back, so I said ‘well we’ve both ends of the race covered’.

“The two up front finished first and fourth and Spanish Harlem came on to be sixth, so he ran a great race and there’s going to be a good race in him too. The sun’s out, it’s a fantastic crowd and it’s just turned out to be an amazing day.”


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