What’s the best way to prepare for the National? Bookmakers yesterday were almost unanimous in that view that a win in a Grade 2 hurdle race was as good a way as any, and after the Willie Mullins trained On His Own had done just that he was promoted to favourite with all firms except for Ladbrokes.
The win surprised both Mullins and jockey Paul Townend, partly because it was only the second race On His Own has contested over hurdles, and partly because the horse had not run since the National last season. Then, he was disputing third place when he fell at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit.
Mullins was clearly delighted with the success and said it had put an end to the campaign he originally had in mind. The trainer said, “That’s On His Own’s novice season gone. It’s nice to win a nice prize with him though. I think he’ll have another run before Aintree over fences. That’s what I had planned coming up here anyway. If I can’t find a suitable chase for him we’ll run again over hurdles. I didn’t think he was that well or that good over hurdles. We were actually going to go novice hurdling with him this season but we missed the first half of the season and hadn’t time to exploit it.”
This morning, On His Own is just that at the head of the National market, an 8/1 chance with Totesport, Boylesport, Betfred, BetVictor and Stand James. He shares favouritism with Prince De Beauchene at 10/1 with Bet365, Coral, Paddy Power and William Hill. Ladbrokes remain less impressed with Graham Wylie’s nine year old, leaving PDB as their 8/1 market leader.