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The Harvey Wilson-trained It’s a Wonder clears a fence on his way to victory at Riccarton.
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Waverley trainer Harvey Wilson could be in for a memorable week if results from the first day of the Grand National Carnival at Riccarton on Saturday are anything to go by.
The former three-time Olympian lined up his entire jumping team of two on the weekend and came away with a win from It’s A Wonder in the Yesberg Insurances Koral Steeplechase (4250m) and a runner-up finish from Bad Boy Brown in the Racecourse Hotel & Motor Lodge Sydenham Hurdles (3100m).
Those performances will ensure that both start amongst the favourites for their main assignments at the carnival where It’s A Wonder will contest the Racecourse Hotel & Motor Lodge 145th Grand National Steeplechase (5600m) next Saturday while Bad Boy Brown’s mission is the Hospitality New Zealand Canterbury 130th Grand National Hurdles (4200m) on Wednesday.
While Wilson reported that both had pulled up well from their exertions, he isn’t getting carried away with his chances of victory in either race.
“The thing that you have to remember is that it is racing and you’ve got to take the good with the bad,” he said.
“We had a very pleasing day on Saturday but that doesn’t mean we can just go out and expect the same thing to happen next time.
“The good news is that we have two fit and happy horses so I guess we’re going into each race with high hopes at least.”
Wilson was rapt to see steeplechaser It’s A Wonder do everything right to secure his victory and placed plenty of credit for the win on the shoulders of rider Shaun Phelan.
“Shaun rode him a treat,” Wilson said.
“He got a perfect run behind Dr Hook in the early stages and then when Shaun took him to the front, he jumped his fences very well.
“The steeplechase course provided better footing than the main track which he appreciated and he finished things off nicely.
“The big question will be whether he can stay the distance of the National but if he happened to get a run like that again, then I don’t think it will be a problem.”
Wilson was also pleased with the effort of Bad Boy Brown who went under narrowly when beaten by Guy Fox in the opening event on Saturday’s card.
“He went a good race with an eye to Wednesday, where he will definitely appreciate the extra distance of the National Hurdle,” he said.
“I think Guy Fox caught that last fence slightly better and had the momentum on him but he didn’t give up and chased hard all the way.
“He was very bright this morning (Sunday) and that run will have taken the edge of him, as he pulled quite hard, so he will be ready to go.”