Ireland’s only runner in a field of 22 won the opening race on Day Two of the Randox Grand National Festival, the Grade Three Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.
Tronador and Jack Kennedy took the 2m 4f contest by two and a half lengths from Evan Williams’ Dans Le Vent and Lisa O’Neill, representing winning trainer Denise Foster, said: “He ran a cracker in the Boodles two years ago, and he wasn’t beaten overly far.
“He was fresh and well before this and travelled over really well. He only sneaked into the bottom of the handicap, so while we were expecting him to run well, we weren’t really expecting him to actually get into the race.
“He looks like he’s progressive at the trip, so fingers crossed there might be something else in him this season. Jack said the ground is riding lovely. This is our only runner today; we’ve got four in the National tomorrow.”
Winning jockey Kennedy said: “That was brilliant - all went very smoothly. He jumped well, got a lovely run through and won well. I thought we were going to go a lot quicker, to be honest, but we settled down and just went a nice even gallop.
“That helped my lad, because he can be behind the bridle, so it helped him stay in the race. I think he wants this sort of spring ground, and only in the past two weeks we’ve had that weather to get this ground. He’s a nice horse for these spring festivals.”
Asked about his chance in the Randox Grand National tomorrow, he added: “Farclas should run a big race in the National if he stays. I think he will stay but that’s the only worry we have with him, really.
“Hopefully he can run a big race, or even win. The Shunter ran very well here yesterday, despite missing the last three fences, and that has franked the form from Cheltenham.
“I’ll have to talk to the O’Learys about riding instructions but ideally I’d like to be just in front of mid-division, somewhere I can get a bit of room, and then go on. Our horses have had a school over an Aintree-type fence at home, so they’ve seen what they are like.
“Touch wood - I don’t want to jinx myself - but I’ve been round the National three times and the Topham once, and have had great spins each time. Hopefully that will continue tomorrow.”
Isabel Williams, rider of runner-up Dans Le Vent, said: “He’s beautiful and has been running really well all year. He just found one better there, but that was a great run.”
Tom Cannon, aboard third home Edwardstone, said: “It was a bit of a slowly-run race and I was a bit short of room from two out going down to the last, when everyone was in a bit of a bunch, but I was always going to play my hand late. He’s a nice horse and is more than capable of winning one of these - he just needs a bit of luck.”
Nico de Boinville, rider of the fourth home, Mister Coffey, said: “It was very steadily run and turned into a sprint.”
Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m4f
1 Tronador – Denise Foster IRE 5-10-04 Jack Kennedy 22/1
2 Dans Le Vent – Evan Williams 8-10-02 Isabel Williams (5) 18/1
3 Edwardstone – Alan King 7-11-11 Tom Cannon 7/1
4 Mister Coffey – Nicky Henderson 6-10-13 Nico de Boinville 6/1F
Distances: 2½l, 2½l, nk