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Macdermott secures big Scottish National success for Mullins

Macdermott secures big Scottish National success for Mullins
Macdermott secures big Scottish National success for Mullins

Macdermott struck a potentially decisive blow for Willie Mullins in the jumps trainers’ championship race by securing a thrilling success in the Coral Scottish Grand National.

The unexposed novice – an 18-1 chance having been ante-post favourite at one stage – edged out Surrey Quest in a memorable late battle to become the first six-year-old to claim this prize since Earth Summit 30 years ago.

Mullins suffered a double setback early on, as Mr Incredible pulled himself up before the first fence and then We’llhavewan fell at that obstacle, but he still had more ammunition, four in fact – and that proved enough.

Sara Bradstock’s Mr Vango was the gamble of the race, being backed into favourite near the off, and he settled down as the front-runner under Ben Jones, with Whistleinthedark and Klarc Kent keeping him company.

The eight-year-old Mr Vango was still in front heading out for the final circuit, but he was passed on the turn for home, as Macdermott and Surrey Quest kicked on.

The advantage swung one way and then the other during a ding-dong battle between that pair up the run-in, but it was Macdermott who just got the nod when it mattered most, with only a nose separating them.

Git Maker stayed on for third, while Mullins picked up more valuable prize-money via fourth-placed Klarc Kent at 50-1.

Mullins admitted he feared the worst as the front two crossed the line, saying: “I thought we were beaten, but then one of my owners opened up the betting on his app and we were favourite and the second horse was 14-1. The odds changed a bit in their favour, but then the result came out.”

Scottish Grand National 2024 – Ayr Racecourse – Saturday 20th April
Macdermott (front left) edges out Surrey Quest (Robert Perry/PA).

Earth Summit famously went on to claim Grand National glory at Aintree and Mullins believes Macdermott could follow in his footsteps.

He told Racing TV: “To me, the way he jumped was spectacular, I’d have no problem aiming him for Aintree next year or for the Irish National, we’ll see but we’ll be aiming for all those chases.

“He’s got age on his side, so it’s fantastic. He just got experience every day he went out; we started him off at two miles and just kept running him for experience, because he hasn’t got runs under his belt and last year it took me all season to get him fit enough.

“He’s a big, lazy fella and he just takes so much training. And he’s so laid back, but now he’s getting the hang of it and if we can get him in this sort of form, it’ll be straight to those kind of staying chases for him to run in.”

Reflecting on a dramatic race, Mullins – still riding high after Aintree glory with I Am Maximus a week ago – said: “We had one go before the first and one fall at the first, then we had two up the front and two out the back, so I said ‘well we’ve both ends of the race covered’.

Scottish Grand National 2024 – Ayr Racecourse – Saturday 20th April
Macdermott ridden by jockey Danny Mullins (Robert Perry/PA).

“The two up front finished first and fourth and Spanish Harlem came on to be sixth, so he ran a great race and there’s going to be a good race in him too.

“The sun’s out, it’s a fantastic crowd and it’s just turned out to be an amazing day.”

The winning jockey, who is the trainer’s nephew, told ITV Racing: “An unexposed Willie Mullins novice in a staying handicap chase is what you want to be on.

“He has his jumping issues and we ended up on the deck one day in Limerick, but even the fall that day has taught him how to be efficient.

“He made a few mistakes out there today, but I got a fantastic jump at the fourth- and third-last and he was good and tough when I needed him at the back of the last.”

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