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‘Extraordinary’ Spirit could chart direct route to Midlands National

Seaston Spirit could head straight for the Midlands Grand National following his victory at Plumpton on Sunday.

Reverting to the larger obstacles after a 21-length success over hurdles at Ffos Las in November, Oliver Sherwood’s charge produced a career-best performance to land the Sussex National and claim a fifth win from his last six starts.

“I’m well happy with him. He’s a tough horse – he’s extraordinary,” said the Lambourn handler.

“Leighton Aspell (retired jockey) actually sent me a message of congratulations after the race and reminded me that he’d won on the horse just over a year ago off a mark of 98. He’s now won a Sussex National off 125.

“He was entered at the sales not long after Leighton won on him, so he was literally in the last-chance saloon. He obviously heard about it as he’s taken off since!

“He can still make the odd mistake, but we expect that and he’s going the right way, obviously.”

Sherwood hopes there is more to come from his charge, who may not run again before bidding for big-race honours at Uttoxeter on March 20.

He added: “The Midlands National would be the ideal race for him. I don’t know what he’ll go up for winning at Plumpton, but I think it should get him in off a low weight at Uttoxeter.

“I’m not entirely convinced he’s ready for Newbury or Sandown or somewhere like that.

“I’m going to have no choice but to go for those kind of races because of his mark. Whether he’ll go to Uttoxeter without a run, I don’t know, but my feeling is he probably will.”

Seaston Spirit claims Sussex National glory

Seaston Spirit showed an abundance of stamina to maintain his unbeaten record this season in the Sky Sports Racing Sussex National Handicap Chase at Plumpton.

After winning three of his final four starts of the last campaign, the Oliver Sherwood-trained eight-year-old followed up his facile success over hurdles on his return at Ffos Las in November with victory in the extended three-and-a-half-mile prize.

Working his way steadily into contention the 6-1 shot moved into a lead he would hold all the way to the line under Aidan Coleman jumping the fourth-last.

Despite coming under pressure from favourite Special Acceptance on the run down to the final fence, Seaston Spirit continued to find plenty in front before prevailing by two lengths to give Coleman his 1,100th British winner.

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Coleman said: “He was very tough, as the first mile and a half I couldn’t let up at all as I wanted to be handier but they went quite quick early.

“I was niggling him a lot, but to be fair once there was any slowing of the pace he was bang there. I know he has got blinkers on, but that is a good example of sharpening a horse up.

“It is a great training performance by Oliver to get him to win a good pot at Taunton last year and then bring him back over hurdles and bring him back here.

“The last time I rode him I think I had 10st so I had to miss a couple of meals – it was nice to have a bit more weight today. That’s a good prize today so we are delighted.”

Assessing future plans Coleman believes Seaston Spirit could be the ideal type to take aim at the Midlands National at Uttoxeter.

He added: “I do think one of those tracks would suit him better than here. At the same time though his last two big wins have been around Taunton and Plumpton which are tight tracks.

“I do think he deserves to have a go at a race like the one at Uttoxeter or something like that.”