On-his-own Navan 19/02/2013

On His Own pricks his eyes as he hurdles stylishly at Navan on Monday

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)  

Own lays down National marker with Boyne win

Report: Navan, Tuesday
Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle (Grade 2)
2m5f, 5yo+

ON HIS OWN made a winning comeback from nearly a year off and furthered his John Smith's Grand National claims as his stablemate, and favourite, Thousand Stars produced a tame effort to finish at the rear.

The nine-year-old was cut to favouritism for the Aintree contest on April 6 and is now 8-1 (from 11) with BetVictor and 8-1 (from 10) with Betfred. Ladbrokes are the only firm to not have On His Own favourite or joint-favourite with his Willie Mullins-trained stablemate Prince De Beauchene preferred.

Absent since falling in last year's Grand National, On His Own had already been near the head of the betting for this year's race following the publication of the weights last week and produced a classy performance in stamina-sapping ground to defeat Si C'Etait Vrai and Un Beau Matin.

Thousand Stars was hot favourite to score but rarely threatened to get competitive, emptying out quickly and comprehensively when asked by jockey Ruby Walsh to challenge at the top of the home straight.

On His Own, however, had always been travelling comfortably for rider Paul Towned, who nudged his mount up to lead the field as they turned out of the back straight.

It quickly became a three-horse race with On His Own challenged by the Gigginstown-owned pair Si C'Etait Vrai and Un Beau Matin.

But with stamina the key thing on the heavy Navan ground, On His Own kept up his gallop to assert near to land victory.

Mullins 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 really 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. Ruby said after half a mile the he knew Thousand Stars wasn't going. He just hated the sticky ground."

As sporting sights go, few match the sheer excitement of 40 horses thundering towards the first fence at Aintree for the John Smith's Grand National.

A race steeped in history that always provides a story, the Grand National is the ultimate test of endurance and skill for both horse and jockey, as the pairing must navigate 30 treacherous fences, and then still have enough stamina to make a challenge on the run-in.

To manage a clear round in the 4m4f epic is no mean achievement, with the fences notoriously difficult and offering unique challenges.

Over the years, there have been countless memorable moments, Devon Loch's phantom leap in the 1956 contest, Foinavon's shock 100-1 win in 1967 and the brilliance of Red Rum, who took the chase on three occasions in 1973, 74 and 77.

In 1981 Aldaniti and Bob Champion completed a heartwarming tale when winning the race, as Aldaniti had recovered from a career-threatening injury while jockey Champion had battled back from cancer.

In 2011 the race provided another fairytale story as Donald McCain emulated his father and Aintree legend Ginger when winning with Ballabriggs - and that came just a year after champion jockey Tony McCoy finally gained victory in the race at the 15th time of asking.