Follow The Plan: jumps the last clear in the Betfred Bowl under Tom DoylePICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Follow The Plan springs 50-1 shock at Aintree
Report: Aintree, Thursday
Betfred Bowl Chase (Grade 1) 3m1f, 5yo+
FOLLOW THE PLAN upstaged some better-fancied rivals when he sprang a huge shock for trainer Oliver McKiernan and jockey Tom Doyle at Aintree on Thursday.
The nine-year-old, winner of the Grade 1 Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup last May, travelled beautifully throughout the race and eased into the lead two fences from home before he kept on well after the last to deny Burton Port and Hunt Ball.
Riverside Theatre and Diamond Harry were both pulled up down the back straight.
Nacarat and Carruthers unsurprisingly duelled for the lead in the early stages as Hunt Ball tracked the leading pair in third, while Riverside Theatre was anchored towards the rear under Barry Geraghty.
Diamond Harry was quickly pulled up as the runners went out on the final circuit and Riverside Theatre was also pulled up after the 13th with Geraghty clearly unhappy with the way he was moving.
Nacarat still led the field as he approached the fourth-last but the much-improved Hunt Ball was travelling easily for Nick Scholfield in behind.
Burton Port also began to stay on for Tony McCoy but Follow The Plan wascantering up Nacarat's inside and he took over after the second-last.
Hunt Ball, Burton Port and Medermit chased the Irish runner in vain on the run for home but Follow The Plan had far too much in hand at the finish.
Burton Port finished three lengths behind in second, while Hunt Ball clung on for third from the fast-finishing Medermit.
McKiernan said: ""He was a horse that didn't go to Cheltenham and we felt he would come here a fresh horse. We had thisrace in mind before he headed to Punchestown after.
"There is no doubt he has come to hand in the last three weeks, way different than he was all year. The drying ground definitely suits as well.
"Withno disrespect to the others they had hard races at Cheltenham. Maybe we were the freshest horse coming here. There were a few euros on each way but not enough. He won't be 50s for the Guinness Gold Cup this year."
Doyle added: "He was sticky at the first but after that he jumped super. He travelled so well, I couldn't believe how well he was travelling.
"We ended up in front way too soon but he was going so well I had to send him on. He's won three Grade 1s now and probably doesn't get the credit he deserves. He's been a great horse for me."