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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Now Thompsons step in for big-race hope Highland Lodge

Highland Lodge and Henry Brooke on the way to victory in the 2015 Becher Chase
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David and Patricia Thompson have signalled their desire to land another Grand National by purchasing big-race runner Highland Lodge, just three days after it was revealed they had bought Le Mercurey, another big-race candidate.

The Thompsons, owners of the Cheveley Park Stud, famously won the National with similarly late buy Party Politics in 1992 – five days before a general election.

And now they have snapped up the 2015 Becher Chase winner to race in their colours alongside Le Mercurey in the Randox Health-backed showpiece at Aintree next Saturday.

Simon Wilson, in whose colours Highland Lodge won the Becher and finished a close second last year, said: "I wish Mr and Mrs Thompson the very best of luck.

"The horse has been absolutely fantastic for us, more than we could ever have dreamed of when we bought him. I genuinely hope he wins for them."

Wilson paid £22,000 at Doncaster sales in November 2015 for Highland Lodge, who will remain with trainer Jimmy Moffatt in Cartmel.

The trainer said: "I'm very excited about training for Mr and Mrs Thompson.

"I spoke to [Cheveley Park managing director] Chris Richardson this morning and he's delighted to have secured the services of our big-race jockey Henry Brooke. And Highland Lodge is in excellent shape."

The 11-year-old is a general 33-1 shot for the £1 million contest, the market headed by Vieux Lion Rouge at 10-1.

In other National news, it was confirmed on Thursday night that Barry Geraghty will be at Aintree after recovering from a punctured lung and six broken ribs that forced him to miss Cheltenham, and Grand National hope More Of That was added to an already quality book of rides for the jockey on Friday.

Geraghty schooled the nine-year-old over National-style fences in Lambourn on Friday, and will ride the Gold Cup sixth for Jonjo O'Neill.

"He's a good jumper, so it was just a matter of getting his eye in," O'Neill said of More Of That. "We don't know if he'll get the trip but he's a grand, relaxed horse and we're looking forward to it."

Ruby Walsh's Grand National partner has also been all but confirmed, with Bobbyjo Chase winner Pleasant Company getting the nod.

Walsh told At The Races: "I'd imagine I'll ride Pleasant Company. Alelchi [Inois] looks to have an awful lot of weight (11st 7lb). The others of ours from 55 downwards, will they get in? It's touch and go."

The ground at Aintree on Friday was soft on the National course on Friday, when the Mildmay and hurdle courses were good to soft. It is due to be bright with sunny spells over the weekend, although showers are possible.

Aintree top jockey

Betfair Sportsbook: 2-7 Barry Geraghty, 7 Richard Johnson, 14 Robbie Power, Ruby Walsh, 16 Sam Twiston Davies

Grand National entries and betting

I'm very excited about training for Mr and Mrs Thompson. Highland Lodge is in excellent shape
E.W. Terms
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