Cham­pion Wells does it again

The Sportsman Midweek - - Latest Trackwork Times - By CRAIG BREN­NAN

GRAND jumper Wells has shown his cham­pion qual­i­ties to record a third Grand Na­tional Steeplechase vic­tory.

The Kathryn Dur­den­trained geld­ing won the race in 2014 be­fore in­jury side­lined him in 2015.

He re­turned to rac­ing in 2016 and ploughed through atro­cious con­di­tions to win the Grand Na­tional be­fore re­turn­ing on Sun­day with the stead­ier of 71.5kg.

Con­ced­ing 7.5kg to run­ner-up Over The Yar­darm, Wells (Richard Cully) got home by a short-head with Bold Zamour 5-½ lengths away third.

Wells has joined Bash­boy, who won the Grand Na­tional in 2012, 2013 and 2015 as the only three-time win­ners of race.

For­mer cham­pion jumps jockey Craig Dur­den, now as­sis­tant trainer to his wife, said Sun­day’s vic­tory was his big­gest thrill in rac­ing.

“I had a lot of suc­cess as a jockey, win­ning a lot of fea­ture races, but this bloke win­ning for the third time is a great thrill,” Dur­den said. “He’s a fan­tas­tic horse. “As we’ve al­luded to be­fore, he’s just a won­der­ful stayer, he jumps very eco­nom­i­cally and he has a big heart.”

Kathryn Dur­den said the re­sult was un­be­liev­able and had no hes­i­ta­tion say­ing geld­ing would be back again next year for a fourth tilt.

Cully de­scribed Wells as a proper cham­pion.

“He’s got an un­be­liev­able en­gine. He’s un­be­liev­ably tough, un­be­liev­ably sound and it’s a fan­tas­tic train­ing job,” he said.

Cully was wor­ried when Over The Yar­darm, who had fin­ished sec­ond to Wells in the Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown on Au­gust 6, was the one do­ing the chas­ing af­ter jump­ing fi­nal fence.

“He was hard to run down at Sandown, but we did run him down, so I knew if he had to stick his head down would,” Cully said.

“That huge weight pull, that just shows what a good horse he is.”

Four of the nine run­ners failed to com­plete the 4500m jour­ney with equal top­weight Sea King the only one to fall, at the sec­ond last fence.

Rac­ing Vic­to­ria stew­ards re­ported Sea King had some back sore­ness while Brad McLean was un­in­jured.

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