The omens look good for Seamus Cahill to land his fourth Grand National next Sunday. (Not bad for a trainer attached to a track that averages one hurdle race per year).
The man previously successful with Hotdog Jack, Mash Mad Snowy and Ballymac Manix, sends out the likely favourite Caislean Fifi following a surprise result in the first semi final.
Drawn six, the 5-2 second favourite disputed the early lead with Barricane Jack and Turnhouse Jet but seized the initiative when cutting across at the first bend. At that stage odds-on favourite Lenson Wilson was back in third but looking well set to qualify.
But with Barricane Jack following home the leader (29.20 – three lengths), the favourite gradually went backwards and was overtaken by Turnhouse Jet for third.
The second Cahill runner, Droopys Trawler was eliminated along with Droopys Denny. Interestingly, the winner and third had both started their careers at Newcastle with Fifi marked “Awkward” and Jet DQ’d for interference.
The second semi final went to one of the stars of the Springbok, Mane Mane. Ernie Gaskin’s runner was tested for the first half of the race by Emiles Eske but kicked on to win impressively in 29.48. The ‘clock consistent’ Castlehill Wally ran on for third.
In his last 21 races, Caislean Fifi has won 8 times with 10 second places and three thirds but his handler can still see improvement in the dog.
He said: “I would say that was his most fluent performance to date. I was very impressed how he cut across at the bend. Our other dog just didn’t get into the race unfortunately. He looks well enough this morning, no issues. The obvious danger must be Mane Mane who looks the real class dog in the field.”