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Thyme Hill wins thrilling Stayers Hurdle and Shishkin stays unbeaten over fences with Aintree strike

My Drogo took his winning run to four with a most convincing performance in the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.

Updated Apr 10th 2021, 4:29 PM

THYME HILL MADE up for missing Cheltenham with a gutsy victory in the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle at Aintree today.

britain-grand-national-horse-racing Thyme Hill leads to win the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle. Source: Peter Powell

A minor injury ruled the seven-year-old out of the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Festival, but he was brought back to fitness in time by his trainer Philip Hobbs.

There was also a change of jockey, with Tom O’Brien getting his chance after Richard Johnson’s recent retirement, having last ridden Thyme Hill to victory on his debut in a bumper at Worcester in October 2018.

O’Brien rode a copybook race, sitting in the main pack as Vinndication and Emitom set up a big early lead. The former was well clear at one stage, but he could not keep up the gallop.

The race changed complexion in the straight and it soon became a duel between Roksana and Thyme Hill.

The former held a narrow lead, but she was worn down in the closing stages by a determined Thyme Hill (5-2 favourite), who got the verdict by a neck. Thomas Darby was third, four and a quarter lengths away.

Paisley Park was a big disappointment, Emma Lavelle’s nine-year-old being pulled up before the third-last flight without posing a threat.

Earlier Shishkin maintained his unbeaten record over fences with a workmanlike performance in the Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase.

randox-health-grand-national-festival-2021-grand-national-day-aintree-racecourse Nico de Boinville celebrates after winning on Shishkin. Source: PA

Nicky Henderson’s exciting prospect may not have been as impressive as in previous races, but the 1-8 favourite got the job done to complete the Cheltenham/Aintree two-mile novice Grade One double after taking the Arkle Trophy last month.

Gumball made the running until Nico de Boinville decided to go on some way from home.

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randox-health-grand-national-festival-2021-grand-national-day-aintree-racecourse My Drogo ridden by Harry Skelton clears the last. Source: PA

My Drogo took his winning run to four with a most convincing performance in the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.

Connections of the Dan Skelton-trained six-year-old decided to miss Cheltenham and it proved a wise move, with My Drogo powering home under Harry Skelton.

Pulling away in the closing stages, the 5-4 favourite crossed the line nine and a half lengths clear of Minella Drama, ridden by Skelton’s title rival Brian Hughes. Guard Your Dreams was half a length away in third. The first three were well ahead of Ballyadam in fourth for Rachael Blackmore and Henry de Bromhead.

 

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