Third Wind leaves Morrison guessing about future after Rendlesham success
Trials can create more confusion than they clear up. The William Hill Rendlesham Hurdle runner-up was cut in price for the Stayers' Hurdle but the winner is not entered, may or may not be supplemented or could wait for Aintree.
Trainer Hughie Morrison has to work out a plan for Third Wind, who justified his decision to have a crack at this Grade 2 with a come-from-behind win under Tom Cannon.
The 9-2 shot, over 14 lengths fifth in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December, led on the run-in and held off last year's Stayers' Hurdle winner Lisnagar Oscar by three-quarters of a length.
"He flew round, didn't he?" the trainer said. "He loved it round there. It's fantastic for the owner-breeder Mouse Hamilton-Fairley and her mother, I'm thrilled for them."
However Morrison was less thrilled with the £13,000 winning owner's purse, and said: "The prize-money today was embarrassing. I know we've got bad times but that shows the industry is in trouble. To win a Grade 2 and just go home with that is shameful."
It would cost £12,000 to supplement Third Wind for the Paddy Power-sponsored Stayers', and the trainer said: "We didn't put him in because we thought he got beaten fair and square at Ascot. He obviously enjoys a flat track and I think he won with a bit in hand probably, he doesn't do a lot when he hits the front.
"He was getting 6lb from the second and I think that would put him fourth or fifth in the Stayers' Hurdle. I haven't spoken to the owner yet and we'll sit back and enjoy this – and if the owners can't go to Cheltenham, they're less interested in going as well. The race at Aintree might appeal."
Lisnagar Oscar will head for the Stayers' Hurdle and earned a 16-1 quote (from 25-1) from Paddy Power for a race he won last year at 50-1.
"I was really happy with him," said trainer Rebecca Curtis. "I know he's won here before but I think he wants more of a stayer's track and he missed five weeks over Christmas with a wind operation and a slice to his leg so I was really pleased and I think he'll build on that.
"I'm very hopeful for Cheltenham. All his best runs have come there, he loves the track, and we'll just have to freshen him up."
Lord of all he surveys
The William Hill Grand National Trial lived up to its name, with the only two Aintree entries fighting out the finish and Lord Du Mesnil earning a 25-1 quote from Paddy Power after his half-length defeat of Achille.
Paul O'Brien's mount had finished second in 2020 and was scoring a poignant success for Richard Hobson, whose father Russell died a fortnight ago.
The trainer said: "That was a great performance, to carry 2lb more than he did last year. If you get him in that rhythm he's a hard horse to catch."
Looking towards Aintree, where Lord Du Mesnil is set to carry 10st 6lb, Hobson said: "If it was soft ground that would be good enough, anything quicker than that and it's not going to be his race. He's got a beautiful weight and we know he stays well."
Hobson hopes the eight-year-old will boost his profile, and said: "What you need is one or two horses like that to get new owners, to get people knowing who you are."
Bushy still on the up
Bushypark's remarkable season continued with victory by eight and a half lengths in the Pertemps Hurdle qualifier.
He scored his fifth win of 2020-21 off a mark 37lb higher than his first and could now head for the Cheltenham Festival.
"He's been brilliant," said trainer Phil Kirby. "I never expected it to come to this, but he's been straightforward, he loves racing and he keeps going the right way.
"I knew he had to win fairly well here if he was to have a chance of getting in the Pertemps – if it comes up soft he could take his chance."
'He's very good'
Alaphilippe is a 16-1 shot for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle with Paddy Power after his win in the Grade 2 Prestige Novices' Hurdle.
"I think he's good enough to go there," said winning jockey Paddy Brennan. "I think he's very good, he was awesome there."
Another horse who looks to be bound for Cheltenham is Bob And Co, who is now 6-1 co-favourite for the St. James's Place Festival Hunters' Chase after winning the concluding hunter chase by 17 lengths.
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