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Its On The Line goes one better to secure Aintree spoils

Image © Healy Racing

It’s On The Line went one better than at the Cheltenham Festival to justify his favourite’s tag to claim the Randox Foxhunters over the Grand National fences.
 
It wasn’t all plain sailing however for the seven-year-old who had come a cropper at Becher’s in the race 12 months earlier, as with a strong pace being set, Emmet Mullins’ chard was out of his comfort zone from an early stage.
 
However under a patient Derek O’Connor, he steadily crept into contention and overhauled Dan Skelton’s Bennys King after the elbow to gallop to a four and a quarter length victory.
 
Willie Mullins’ Annamix tried to come from a similar position and stayed on into third under the trainer’s son Patrick.
 
Winning trainer Emmet Mullins was also responsible for the sixth courtesy of Romeo Magico, whilst Hardline was the fourth Irish finisher as he was a place further back in seventh under Josh Williamson who was having his first start over the national fences.
 
For winning rider Derek O’Connor, it was his second time to pass the post in front in the Aintree Foxhunters having been aboard the subsequently disqualified Balnaslow in 2018, and after the race he praised his mount’s ability to jump and gallop.
 
 “They went a ferocious gallop and he was really off the bridle, but the one thing he does is run and jump, and he kept jumping his way all the way. He is game; he got a little bit of stick after Cheltenham, and he lacks that bit of class to travel in a race, but he puts it all in when it comes down to it, and he did that today.
 
“He likes to have company as well and horses to chase, and thankfully - I hope the riders are ok - but thankfully there were two loose horses there and they brought him all the way to the line, which was a help. I was quietly confident [at two fences out]! I thought he had had a good round of jumping, he handles the conditions, and because they’d gone such a strong pace I felt they were going to tire at some stage and that they had to come back to me, as opposed to me going to them, so it worked out perfectly.
 
“He’d stay the National trip [in future] and he loves the jumps. I got a great ride off him last year; he was slow over the first couple of fences and then his confidence was getting better. He actually fell because he got overconfident - he stood off Becher’s Brook too far and just hit the back of it, so the jumping was never going to be a bother today. He loves the fences and appreciates the track, so, you never know. And Emmett is a genius. It’s a privilege to ride in these colours and to be associated with the McManus team. I’m in a great position.”
 
Winning trainer Emmet Mullins said: “He has got ability and Derek (O’Connor) is good and persistent on him, and he gets everything out of him. I suppose we were thankful of the loose horses out there today as he had a bit of company and he was able to stretch out and go away, and he has done it well to the finish.
 
“He is not a natural leader by any stretch, and he likes to suss out things, and get into a rhythm, and figure it out. He is well named I think. I probably wasn’t planning this race after Cheltenham. We gave him a speculative entry and once it turned up heavy ground it was always going to bring stamina into play. That was the biggest sway into running him,
 
“He takes his races very well and last season he turned up at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown. He has a great constitution. I’d say he will stay hunter chasing. It is great to come to these meetings with a horse that has a big chance. Fingers crossed he will keep doing the business.
 
“He will definitely get an entry for Punchestown, but we will see how the horse is and he will tell us how he is. We will leave the door open for him.”

 

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