Tag Archive for: American Grand National

Seddon set to tackle American Grand National

Cheltenham Festival hero Seddon will have the chance to follow in the footsteps of Hewick when he heads to Far Hills for the American Grand National on Saturday.

John McConnell’s stable star is the latest Irish challenger for America’s top jumping prize and the handler is relishing the opportunity to add to the 10-year-olds burgeoning CV in New Jersey.

Seddon has proved a shrewd acquisition for McConnell and owners the Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate winning four times last season, including providing his handler with a first Cheltenham Festival victory when claiming the Magners Plate before adding to his riches over hurdles at the Punchestown equivalent.

He was last seen being denied by a neck at Galway last month and his trainer believes his versatility could be an asset ahead of his latest big-race assignment.

“It’s exciting and something different,” said McConnell.

“He’s most definitely been a star and a horse of a lifetime for his syndicate, myself and Ben (Harvey, jockey), so anything from here on in is a bonus.

“It was an exciting opportunity to have a go at and hopefully he comes home safe and if he runs his race I will be happy.

“He jumps very well whether it is hurdles and fences so I don’t think that will be a problem and nice ground and the trip will be OK. I suppose it all depends on how he settles in but we’re very hopeful.”

John McConnell with Seddon after his Cheltenham Festival victory
John McConnell with Seddon after his Cheltenham Festival victory (Mike Egerton/PA)

It will also be a big afternoon for jockey Ben Harvey who has struck up a fine partnership with Seddon and will be riding for the first time in America.

“Ben rides him and he’s looking forward to it,” continued McConnell.

“Obviously he has never ridden over there before but he’s a good judge of pace and we wouldn’t have anyone else on him at this stage.”

Raiders from Britain and Ireland have a fine recent record in the Far Hills feature with Hewick using the race as a stepping stone to bigger and better things last year and McConnell has been given plenty of advice from Hewick’s handler John ‘Shark’ Hanlon ahead of Seddon’s cross-Atlantic adventure.

Seddon ridden by jockey Ben Harvey (left) winning at the Punchestown Festival
Seddon ridden by jockey Ben Harvey (left) winning at the Punchestown Festival (Niall Carson/PA)

He added: “Shark paved the way and I’ve had a good chat with him about it.

“He has been very helpful and in fact everybody has been really helpful to us along the way and I just want to get see him get on the track and get it over with now.”

Last season was somewhat a breakthrough year for McConnell who as well as tasting success at all three of the major spring festivals, matched his highest number of winners tally in the UK and almost doubled his previous best on home soil.

Now the Stamullen-based handler believes he has got his best ever National Hunt squad heading into the depths of winter and as well as the familiar names of Seddon, Mahler Mission and Anna Bunina, McConnell has highlighted dual bumper winner Intense Approach as one who could thrive this term.

“They are all coming together nicely,” said McConnell. “Some of the bigger yards are starting to roll out now so that will be challenging and we’ll definitely mix it between the UK and Ireland over the winter.

“We’ve got the best set of jumps horses we have ever had so hopefully that will get us some rewards.

“Intense Approach would probably be the horse to watch, he’s won two bumpers for us in Ireland and he will go hurdling. We really like him and think he is a fairly special horse.

“He’ll start off in a maiden and see after that, but he’s a lovely horse and hopefully we will go to some top places with him.”

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