Livescore Racing News: National on the cards for Top Ville Ben

Top Ville Ben in action
Top Ville Ben in action

Co-owner Neil Hassall has suggested that Top Ville Ben could be aimed at the Grand National following Friday's victory in the Cazoo Hurdle at Lingfield.

Connections have had to wait over two years to see the 10-year-old returning to winning ways after topping the field in the 888Sport Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby in December 2019.

Top Ville Ben missed 18 months of racing between January 2020 and April 2021 due to injury, and there was a feeling he might never hit those highs again, having failed to finish higher than third over five outings.

There were some signs of improvement when running in the Becher Chase at Aintree in December. However, he fell on the second circuit.

He came home third at Wetherby on Boxing Day, albeit 10-and-a-half-lengths shy of winner Good Boy Bobby, in the Rowland Meyrick - his first run over British hurdles since April 2018 - and appeared to enjoy to trip.

Alain Cawley was in the saddle for the first time on Friday, and he looked firmly at home as they romped around the first circuit at Lingfield before picking up the pace further, going down the back straight.

Favourite On The Blind Side started to wane, but Dan McGrue and Emitom were still in the mix, and Cawley had to ask his charge for more.

A run over the Grand National fences beckons for Top Ville Ben
A run over the Grand National fences beckons for Top Ville Ben

Top Ville Ben duly responded, pulling clear to secure victory by two and three-quarter lengths to the delight of co-owner Hassall, who felt the heavy conditions played into their hands.

Hassall said: "It is his ground, isn't it? He has shown it in the past but getting the ground like it is today isn't always easy.

"It was a great decision and a brave decision by Phil to go back hurdling. He is a funny horse - he can trip over two barrels on the wrong day, as he has shown. I don't think it was as silly an idea as it looked. They put on great prize money, so why not?"

Hassall has already started considering future entries for the Phil Kirby-trained bay gelding, and he suggested they could head to Doncaster next before potentially heading to April's Grand National.

"Truthfully, we would like to go to the Grand National with him. We thought, in the Becher, when he fell, he was loving it. He forgets to think where he is going. He has done it over hurdles at Haydock. He fell at Cheltenham in the RSA; he fell over in the Becher. He will fall over two barrels on the wrong day and jump over a 10-foot fence on a good day. That's him," Hassall added.

"Whether we get the ground in the National, who knows. He will probably have one more run between now and then, but that's Phil's call.

"He might run at Doncaster in the Grimthorpe at the end of February."

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