Bobby Zen

   I Am Maximus (Fr) (Authorized {Ire}) produced one of the most impressive Grand National-winning performances in some time to propel Willie Mullins to the head of the British Trainers’ Championship.

Owned by JP McManus and ridden by Paul Townend, last year’s Irish Grand National hero represented winner number two in the Aintree showpiece for Mullins, who sent out Hedgehunter (Ire) (Montelimar) to success in 2005.

Returned the 7-1 co-favourite, I Am Maximus stormed clear of Delta Work (Fr) (Network {Ger}) in second with former Gold Cup winner Minella Indo (Ire) (Beat Hollow {GB}) back in third.

Betfair reacted to the victory by making Ireland’s dominant jumps trainer an 8-15 favourite to clinch a breakthrough British Championship ahead of Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton at 2-1 and 5-1, respectively.

Mullins said, “I thought Paul was super on him as I’m not sure the horse was giving him a lot of help on the way round and I could see him just minding him the whole way round.

“We saw that last year in the Irish National and he has supreme confidence in the horse and he always has that bit in the tank. When he was cut off going to the second last or the last, you saw him coming out around and just biding his time waiting for his challenge to deliver.

“I could see Paul’s body language and he was happy, so I was happy then. I don’t think I said anything until he got over the last and then I let go (and gave him a cheer).

“I’m buzzing here now at the moment and it’s huge. As far as I know our team is back in full order with no injuries or anything and I’m happy that we have a full complement of horses and riders coming back in.”

Mullins was winning the race for a second time but it was a first Aintree National victory for Townend.

The rider said, “I ended up being first down to the first to give him a look and as he got to the Melling Road he started backing off so it wasn’t a great start, but the volume of horses pushed him down over the first three and he got a bit careful on the second circuit but I was trying to conserve as much as I could as well.

“He didn’t get the clearest run from the second last to the last, but it kind of helped me and I had a feeling when I got him out he was going to start motoring in the clear air and he did.”

Townend added, “The ones in front of me, I’m sure they weren’t looking for me but I had them well in my sights. I was hoping he would respond like I thought he would.

“Gold Cups are Gold Cups and Grade 1s are hard to win. But Grand Nationals are just a bit different. You just need so much luck and I can’t believe it, I’m a lucky boy.”

The post Mullins Favourite For British Title After National Triumph With I Am Maximus appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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