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Ex-Nicholls runner lands prestigious jumps prize

Report: USA, Saturday

Far Hills, New Jersey: American Grand National (Grade 1 hurdle) 2m5f, turf, 5yo+

THE former Paul Nicholls-trained Pierrot Lunaire (Blythe Miller Davies/Bernie Dalton) scored a narrow victory in America's number one jumps race in front of an estimated 40,000 crowd on Saturday.

A winner at Aintree for Nicholls in April 2008, the eight-year-old took the $250,000 American Grand National - the race that replaced the Breeders' Cup Chase - by three-quarters of a length over front-running Divine Fortune, whom he claimed on the run in.

"On the turn, I looked up and said 'I'll get that horse' and then for one little second I didn't think I was going to get him," said Dalton, speaking to the Daily Racing Form.

"I gave my horse a slap and I felt like if we jumped the last well I'd get him. He really dug in and ran on for me when I needed him."

Royal Bonsai, formerly trained by John Quinn, took third on his US debut.

Pierrot Lunaire, who had not won for three seasons before regaining his form this autumn, is expected to run next in the Colonial Cup at Camden on November 17.

>>The former Noel Meade-trained Top Man Michael (Brianne Slater/Ross Geraghty) made a winning American debut in a three-year-old hurdle on the same card.

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