The Worlds End toughs it out to put the icing on Heskin's cake
Tom George and Adrian Heskin celebrated a record-breaking first season in tandem with a first Grade 1 win together when The Worlds End held on grimly from Beyond Conceit and Debece in a thrilling finish to the Doom Bar Sefton Novices' Hurdle.
With a bit of luck they might have been celebrating Grade 1 success three weeks previously, as the six-year-old, who carries the familiar blue-and-white hoops with maroon sleeves and cap of the McNeill family, was looking very dangerous when he came down two out in Cheltenham's Albert Bartlett.
The Worlds End was a 50th winner of the campaign for Heskin, who joined George from Ireland last summer, and continued a brilliant season for the trainer. The pair team up in the Grand National with Double Shuffle, who will be Heskin's first ride in the race.
The jockey said: "I've had a great season and winning a race like that is the icing on the cake. Tom has a lovely bunch of horses.
"That was super. He’s a lovely horse and what a training performance to get him back just three weeks after a fall. I felt that was the one that got away. He didn’t deserve to fall. He deserved that today."
George is enjoying easily his best campaign in 24 seasons holding a licence, with 65 winners for prize-money of more than £900,000.
He was as thrilled as Heskin, and said: "That was a tough performance after what happened at Cheltenham. He was travelling very easily there – probably easier than he was today – but he had a hard fall. He deserves a good holiday now."
He added: "I'm usually the first to go over fences very quickly, but I'd say this one still has improvement in him over hurdles. He's going to strengthen up and he might stick to hurdles for now, we'll see."
Of his link with Heskin, he added: "We've had some very good winners this season and are high up in the trainers' table, but it's great to get that first Grade 1 together. Adrian is doing well. We understand each other and get on well.
"Paddy [Brennan] is still riding out and has won on this horse, but I knew the yard was getting stronger and we needed our own jockey."
Beyond Conceit's rider Barry Geraghty said: "I thought 50 to 70 yards from home that I was getting him, but when I got to him I couldn't get any closer."
Tim Vaughan was thrilled with third-placed Debece, and said: "It's no secret I think the world of him. I think he's top class.
"I didn't put him in at Punchestown, and Cheltenham might come too soon, but if he doesn't run again it will be a summer at grass and then three-mile chasing next season. It's exciting to have one like this again."