Wil John impresses in Grand National Hurdle win

AUSTRALIA Aug 1 2021 15:36

Wil John has given Ciaron Maher and David Eustace back-to-back Grand National Hurdle wins at Sandown.

Trainer Ciaron Maherhas not ruled out chasing arare jumpsdouble with Wil Johnafter the gelding took out the Grand National Hurdle at Sandown.

Only two horses have completed the Grand National Hurdle and Steeplechase double in the same year with Mosstrooper completing the double in 1930 and New Zealand jumper TallyhoTwinkletoein 2019.

Ablaze, also prepared by Maher and David Eustace, went close last year taking out the hurdle before running second in the steeplechase at Ballarat.

Sent out the $2.60 favourite under Will McCarthy, Wil John raced to afour-lengthwin fromInayforhay($10) with Instigator ($19) a further six lengths off third.

Maher said he would need to speak to principal owners, Warrnambool-basedColin and Janice McKenna who are currently "sunning themselves" up in Darwin.

"They bred the horse and it is just fantastic," Maher said.

"He was placed in a Jericho down there at Warrnambool and I know they would really love to win an Annual so it's very special and I can't thank them enough.

"He could yet switch and go to the bigger fences for the Grand National Steeplechase in four weeks.

"We'll just sit down and have a chat with Col up there in Darwin with a bit of sun on their backs, I'm sure they will be enjoying it.

"For a big horse over hurdles, he really finds his jumps well. You'll see he just jumped his way into the race going up the back straight."

For McCarthy it was his first win Maher since joining the stable as a work rider from Ireland in May.

With a middle name of John, McCarthy said he was meant to be riding Wil John in the feature on Sunday.

"I knew as soon as the entries came out it was meant to be," McCarthy said.

"My middle name is John, Willie John, Willie John, so it was good."

"He's a super animal. One of the best I've sat on.

"He travelled really strongly all the way and jumped from hurdle to hurdle. I was taking him back going up the hill telling him to wait.

"I'd love to stick with him. Steve (Pateman) couldn't do the weight on him today, but I was glad to get on him today and make it count."

Craig Brennan - Racing And Sports

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