Any Second Now revives National hopes with impressive Webster Cup success
Any Second Now was cut to 12-1 (from 16) by Paddy Power for next month's Randox Grand National after putting up a possible career-best performance in landing the Grade 2 Webster Cup Chase at Navan.
The 2019 Kim Muir winner showed his versatility last year when landing a Grade 3 over 2m at Naas, but against a stronger field here, which included last year's scorer and Fortria Chase winner Castlegrace Paddy, the son of Oscar was supremely impressive in scoring by ten lengths, making his weight of 10st 9lb for Aintree look potentially very attractive as trainer Ted Walsh bids to add to the success he achieved with Papillon in 2000.
He said: "He's a smart horse and he showed at Naas last year that he is capable over two [miles]. I'd say that was a career best and it will send him to the Grand National in a good frame of mind.
"A Grade 2 over two miles here and the National with 40 runners are like chalk and cheese but he will go there in good shape and whatever happens, happens.
He added: "He has a grand weight and I think he goes there with as good a chance as Papillon or Seabass had, and if he takes to the place, travels and jumps, and gets a bit of luck, he won't be far away."
Judge storms to victory
Out of luck with Castlegrace Paddy in the feature, trainer Pat Fahy struck in the Grade B novice handicap chase final with Stormy Judge, who won convincingly under a terrific ride from Danny Mullins by a cosy two lengths from the consistent Enjoy D'Allen.
"He's gifted," said Fahy about the rider. "We always targeted this race and I thought we were coming here with a great chance. It's just a pity the owners weren't here to see it. He could be an Irish National horse for next year."
Jockey Brien Kane received a 10-day ban for his ride on the Tom Gibney-trained mare Must Be Obeyed after she was a fast-finishing third, beaten a length and a quarter, in the second division of the 2m maiden hurdle.
The stewards found he had ridden the 66-1 shot in a manner which failed to obtain her best possible placing, while Gibney had his explanations noted and the mare did not receive a ban.
Multiples all round
Trebles or better at Navan are commonplace for Cullentra, but Denise Foster was achieved the first treble in her name at the yard.
The two divisions of the 2m maiden hurdle went to Coqolino (Mark Walsh) and Robinstown (Jack Kennedy), while Walsh was also aboard Gars De Sceaux, who bolted up in the 2m7f novice hurdle.
Reflecting on her first week at Cullentra, Foster said: "It's a well-oiled machine and the whole team have been so helpful to me, all of the staff. I've been made to feel really at home. I'm delighted for the team, they have had a very hard time the last couple of weeks."
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