Quick Wave prevails in National Trial thriller at Haydock
The Venetia Williams-trained mare was one of only four runners in the 14-strong field with an entry in the Randox Grand National and her odds for the world's most famous steeplechase were unsurprisingly slashed following a tenacious display on Merseyside.
Quick Wave lined up with questions to answer after being pulled up when favourite for the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in December and was a longshot shot in the hands of Harry Bannister.
Her stablemate Cloudy Glen, who also holds an Aintree engagement and was making his first appearance in over a year, raced with zest on the front end for much of the three-and-a-half-mile journey, while Bannister was more patient aboard his mount. With Cloudy Glen beginning to feel effects of his early exertions, it turned into a straight shootout from halfway up the straight, with popular mare Snow Leopardess and Quick Wave going at it. There was little to choose between the pair jumping the final fence and both gave it their all, but it was Quick Wave who just found most for pressure to prevail by three-quarters of a length. Betfred cut the winner to 25-1 from 50s for the Grand National, while Paddy Power offer 33-1 ahead of the publication of the weights on Tuesday. Bannister, riding his first winner since returning from a serious hip injury, said: "I can't take too much credit, she's a lovely mare. Credit to Venetia and the team who had her spot-on today. "Venetia is an exceptional trainer and it means a lot to get this winner back. It's been a long road and there's lots of people to thank. "I probably ended up a bit closer to the inner than I would have liked, but we saved what we could, she's jumped really well and travels so strongly and stays well. "She showed her staying credentials and she appreciated being back on this better ground after the Welsh National." Charlie Longsdon was delighted with the performance of runner-up Snow Leopardess, who will not run in this year's Grand National after pulling up in the race last season, but she is set for an appearance at next month's Cheltenham Festival. "She's run an absolute cracker to be honest. It's great to get her back on the form we want her to be in and there's no disgrace in finishing second," he said. "We're gutted not to win of course, but that's neither here nor there and that will hopefully set her up nicely for the cross-country next month. "She gets her 7lb claim (at Cheltenham) and I'm hopeful we can sneak into the place there. She's been a superstar mare for us and I can't ask any more from her."
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