RANDOX GRAND NATIONAL FESTIVAL NEWS: SECOND WIN IN THREE YEARS FOR LUCINDA RUSSELL IN GRADE ONE SEFTON NOVICES’ HURDLE
Friday 14th April
Grand National-winning trainer Lucinda Russell enjoyed her second win in three years in the Grade One Winners Wear Cavani Sefton Novices’ Hurdle when 16-1 chance Apple Away took the honours.
Russell was previously successful in this contest with Ahoy Senor in 2021 while it was a first Grade One success for jockey Steve Mulqueen.
Lucinda Russell said: “I’m absolutely brilliant and I’m so delighted for Old Gold Racing. When they started on this micro share thing I thought it might not work, but it absolutely works for horses like her and situations like this. I’m so pleased to see everyone so happy.
“Scu was confident that she had what it takes, as she’s just relentless and just keeps on galloping. I thought Stephen did a very good job of kicking that early and getting that lead.
“She’ll go chasing. She’s a relentless galloper and she takes to jumping fantastic. There’s always something about fillies that gets hold of your heart, and she absolutely has. She had a few pounds to find, but the mares’ allowance is ideal and she has such tenacity and determination, which is ideal for this sort of race.
“The horses have been in great form this season and we are on the crest of a wave. I’m really pleased for Scu. He used to ride her but she’s too much for him now.”
Ed Seyfried, chief executive of winning owners Old Gold Racing, said: “There are 2,750 members in this horse and they paid £60 a share. Most of them seem to be here! Lucinda bought her at Cheltenham last April (for £35,000) and gave me a ring. I’m so glad I took her call, as she’s by far our biggest winner.
“We’ve got 20-odd horses in training and 16,500 members. We’ve got two on the Flat - one with Charlie Fellowes and one with Charlie Hills - three or four with Paul Nicholls, one with Paul Webber, two with Charlie Longsdon, one with Evan Williams, one with Venetia Williams, and so on. We are quite prolific!”
The winning jockey Stephen Mulqueen commented: “I’m lost for words. I knew it was a Grade One race but with Lucinda there is no pressure. It’s just like any other day and she said to just go out. She said she likes to make the running so I just tried to get in front and ride my race. I’ve not ridden in many of these big races but I just tried to approach it like it’s any other. When it’s like that you can just go out with a free rein.
“I found out a couple of days that I was riding her and it’s just great to be given the chance to ride horses like this, I was second on Douglas Talking yesterday and it’s just brilliant. The team are in great order and everything is running well. When you know the horses are healthy you can just go out there knowing that if you’re making the running that they’ll keep going and it just makes things easier.
“I suppose you could say it’s like a family at the yard. Lucinda and Scu (Peter Scudamore, partner) are there and they’re approachable. We have the craic with Scu riding out like he’s one of the lads and it just means that you’re not intimidated by them in any way. They’re approachable and it makes things easier. Obviously it’s the same as anywhere else and there’s fall outs and things, but once you get on your next lot it’s forgotten about and we’re all just looking forwards. As a team it’s a happy environment.
“This mare is very talented and she’s been progressing all season. I rode her at Cheltenham and we probably got the tactics wrong as we dropped her in, but she’s relentless once she gets to the front. She jumps and travels and there just seems to be no bottom to her.”
Donald McCain, trainer of the runner-up Maximilian, said: “I wouldn’t change anything. He’s run a great race. It was a great try. That will be it for the season and we’ll concentrate on next year now. He’s a very exciting horse; second in a Grade One, and on another day… He’s given the winner seven pounds, and it was a good try.”
Oliver Greenall, joint trainer of third-placed Iroko, said: “It was a very good run and he is a lovely horse. Mark (Walsh, jockey) said if he had run over three miles before he might have been a bit more positive with him. It was his first time over three miles and you couldn’t have done that. He was staying all the way to the line and he will be an exciting chaser for next season. I’d say we will go over fences next season.
“He was purchased to go chasing. We would possibly go back to two and a half to start with over fences at somewhere like Wetherby. We were thinking something like the Kauto Star could be a possibility for him, though that might be a bit sharp around Kempton for him.”
Paul Nicholls, trainer of the fourth Stay Away Fay, said: “He has run a super race. He was bang there and they were four good horses up there. He had a hard race at Cheltenham. He was one I was more worried about than anything else running here. He has run really well and that is it now.
“That was only his fourth run over hurdles so he has got a bit more experience today and he will have a lovely holiday now and then go chasing. He will be an awesome chaser. We had thought about staying over hurdles with him but he probably lacks a little bit of class for that. I’m not saying that we won’t start him over hurdles next season at somewhere like Wetherby but that is for us to discuss. He really has chasing written all over him and I will suspect that is what we will do.”
4.40pm Winners Wear Cavani Sefton Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m½f
1 Apple Away 16/1
2 Maximilian 6/1
3 Iroko 5/1
15 ran NR: Twig (unsuitable ground)
Distances: 1¾l, 1½l, 1l