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Go Conquer assumes control to set up National bid for Rooneys

Go Conquer with another fine leap in Ascot's feature
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Paul and Clare Rooney have had, via The Last Samuri, a few cracks at jumps racing's biggest prize already, but they may have unearthed another Randox Health Grand National contender in the shape of Go Conquer, who did just that in Ascot's feature race.

Propelled to victory by Aidan Coleman, the emerging eight-year-old, who was almost brought down over the sport's most famous fences in the Topham, is certainly in the right hands for an Aintree bid with Jonjo O'Neill, who never won the race as a jockey but saddled Don't Push It to victory in 2010.

O'Neill joked that training a National winner was easier than riding one and said: "He loves jumping and is a grand horse. He was going smashing in the Topham, but who can tell you if you've got a National horse?

"Our options are open, but he's in the BetVictor or we could come back here in December for a race, depending on ground. A sounder surface is better for him, but not too fast."

Paddy Power introduced him at 50-1 for the National and if O'Neill needs any help plotting a path to Aintree in the spring he can call upon Jason Maguire, who partnered Ballabriggs to a memorable triumph the year after Don't Push It's win.

Maguire now acts as racing manager to the Rooneys, whose National dream was extinguished by Rule The World in 2016, who shot clear of The Last Samuri, who managed only 16th in the big one this spring.

Maguire, impressed with Go Conquer's comfortable success in the £100,000 Grade 3, added: "He was good and he stayed well. He didn't really see out the distance last season, but Jonjo's tweaked a few things and he won well at Fontwell.

"He went up to 142 and today was a test to see if he was a genuine horse off that mark, because he might be a Grand National horse.

"I thought Aidan gave him a very clever ride from the front; he was able to dictate and slow it up as he wanted and use his jumping. It was a good bit of riding. The National would be his target."

That is something Coleman would relish.

"He's a great jumper," said the smiling rider. "We really fancied him for the Topham last season and he got brought down more or less – I don't know how he stood up, but it was race over.

"Since then he's won at Fontwell and won today, and it's his jumping that's key. He jumps so well and is always saving energy."

Result and analysis

He was going smashing in the Topham, but who can tell you if you've got a National horse?
E.W. Terms