Threeunderthrufive sets up potential National bid

By Sports Desk February 17, 2024

Threeunderthrufive put himself in the Randox Grand National picture with a terrific display off top-weight in the Injured Jockeys Fund Ambassadors Programme Swinley Handicap Chase at Ascot.

Despite being three-time winner over fences, he had not found the scoresheet since his novice days where he was deemed good enough to compete in Grade One company at the Cheltenham Festival.

However, two encouraging runs in defeat this season suggested a victory was not far away and having disputed the lead for the majority of the £100,000 event with Dan Skelton’s Shan Blue, he showed his class to come home a length ahead of Henry Daly’s fast-closing Rapper.

The 5-1 winner was trimmed to 25-1 from 33s by both Paddy Power and Betfair for the Aintree showpiece in April, and with Paul Nicholls ruling out a run at Prestbury Park next month, that assignment could be next for the McNeill family-owned nine-year-old.

“He’s got an entry for the National and he jumped really well today,” said Nicholls.

“He wouldn’t want the ground too soft, that (ground) today was just perfect for him and he will also have an entry in the Scottish National and the bet365 Gold Cup (at Sandown).

“He’s not going to go to Cheltenham in three weeks’ time, I wouldn’t have thought, and Max (McNeill, owner) is quite keen on him running in the National.”

He added: “I’ve always had a reservation about his jumping, but today it was as good as I’ve ever seen him jump. But he’s also better right-handed so there’s lots of things to consider and think about.

“For me the perfect race for him is the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown at the end of the season, but whether we go to Aintree or not, we will all have a chat and make a plan.

“We’ll see what Max wants to do and what Harry (Cobden) thinks. Harry I think is lukewarm, so I will see what he says, but it was nice to win a £100,000 race with him off that mark. He’s a good horse who has deserved to win a nice race.”

Jockey Joe Anderson was able to breathe a sigh of relief after Neil Mulholland’s Mothill continued his rise up the handicap hurdle ranks in the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards Handicap Hurdle.

Anderson garnered plenty of praise for his miraculous recovery aboard Transmission at Plumpton last month but having dropped his whip, he had a willing partner to get him trouble as the 18-1 shot Mothill outbattled Ben Pauling’s Bad at the finish.

“I never realised Joe had dropped his stick until he came back in so if he had got beat he would have been a bit unlucky,” said Mulholland

“He’s such a solid genuine little horse and stuck his head down all the way to the line, it was a great result.

“I think this shows you how solid of a little performer he is. He got into a bit of trouble round Kempton last time and we were hoping he could be placed today, so to win it is a bonus.

“We will see what the handicapper does today and he can’t get carried away too much and we can make the entries and if he doesn’t get in then you have Aintree.

“Somewhere like Aintree might suit him and I know this is quite a stiff finish from Swinley Bottom, but he’s a versatile little horse. There’s a few handicaps we can look at.”

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