Owner JP McManus enjoyed a second Grade 1 success at the 2024 Randox Grand National Festival when Mystical Power (11/10 Favourite) came out on top in the Grade One TrustATrader Top Novices’ Hurdle.

Sired by the great Galileo and out of the 2014 Champion Hurdle heroine Annie Power, the five-year-old went one better than in last month’s Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle as he came home half a length clear of the staying-on Firefox (9/4).

Winning owner JP McManus said: “You’d have to be very pleased with him. He got a bit warm before the race, so I was a bit worried, but he settled. Both the mummy and the daddy got better as they got older, so fingers crossed he can do the same.”

Willie Mullins, the successful trainer, said: “It’s great for the mare [Annie Power] to have a Grade 1 winner. He obviously keeps a lot of his ability for the racetrack, rather than the home gallops. We’ll have more confidence in him now, and just get him fit and let him do his own thing. We’ll have a think about Punchestown, but he doesn’t owe us a thing this year. I was particularly taken with his hurdling today - he barely came off the ground; he just bent his legs like a real professional hurdler, and that’s what he looks like.

“To look at him he doesn’t scream chaser - he’s not a big, old-fashioned type, but I am sure that he would make a nice novice chaser. We’ll see where we are when the season closes, what rating he has over hurdles, what’s left for him there. We might come back here for the two and a half mile race that was the Templegate (Aintree Hurdle).

“Whether he can dine at the top table over two miles is another question. It’s a nice problem - it’s a question a lot of people will give their viewpoint on.”

Happy ending

Mark Walsh, the successful jockey, said: “They went a proper good gallop. He probably didn’t travel as well as he can. I ended up getting to the front a bit too soon and Jack closed the door on me, but he’s ground it out and done it well. He’s a tough horse and will stay further no problem. But he’s won a Grade 1 on a fast track today, so we’ll be happy with that today.”

Gordon Elliott, who saddled the runner-up Firefox, said: “I thought he ran a good race and there was no real excuse. He jumped well and he was only beaten half a length. He will most definitely go novice chasing next year. I think he will be a proper two mile chaser, but he could go over two and a half. The way he jumps a hurdle you would say he wants a fence. He is a good horse. He is one for next season.

“It is always frustrating when you don’t win, but he ran a very good race and we are proud of our horse. We will see about Punchestown.”

Bouncing back

Neil King said of the third Lookaway (20/1): “He had his off day at Newbury for whatever reason that was. Fortunately, Mr Beadles (owner) is very understanding, and he just said, straight away, miss Cheltenham and don’t even try to go there with him and bring him back here. Fortunately he has bounced back to form.

“I thought Jack (Quinlan) gave him a great ride from the front. His jumping was fantastic, and you wait until he gets over a fence here next year. I’m thrilled with him.

“The way we like to ride him, with the ground as testing as it was going to be, we thought let's go two miles, and be confident, as we can ride the horse how he likes to be ridden.

“We were hoping there might be a chink in the armour of the horses that ran in the Supreme (Novices’ Hurdle), but there wasn’t.

“He has won his point-to-point so schooling him over a fence is still to come. He could go to Sandown in a fortnight if he bounces out of this okay.

“Otherwise, we will start him off in a novice chase in May before we turn him away for the summer. There is a lot to look forward to.”