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Cearnsport Grand National - Central Park 480mH - £8,000

LENSON WILSON, the reigning GBGB Hurdler of the Year (pictured above during last year's Springbok), set the standard in the heats of the Cearnsport Grand National at Central Park on Sunday. 

The Ricky Holloway-trained runner, winner of last year’s Springbok and Champion Hurdle titles, ultimately ran amok in the opening heat of the 480m hurdlers’ Classic, catching fast-starting Barricane Jack (Jason Foster) approaching the bend before slipping clear off the second turn. 

He eventually won by eight lengths from kennelmate Shaneboy Bowie and stopped the clock in a fast 29.04sec (normal), less than a length off the track record held by another Holloway hurdler in Sober Call (28.97sec). 

Droopys Denny, fresh from winning his heat of the Regency (695m) at Hove on Thursday, underlined the stamina at his disposal when leading at the three-quarter pole to win by five lengths from Castlehill Wally (Barry O’Sullivan) in 29.76sec. 

In winning, Droopys Denny was landing a Grand National heat double for trainer Holloway, although hopes of a treble with Burgess Brandy were dashed after the Springbok champion broke down at the second bend in heat four. 

Holloway said: “He’s suffered a hairline fracture, but the good news is no operation is required and he could be back in three months or so. He’s owes us nothing after the Springbok win, and I’ve always felt Lenson Wilson was our best chance. 

“He’s come to form at just the right time. He’s won the Springbok and Champion Hurdle, so we’re looking for a career triple crown with him which would be great. I’ve got four through to the semis and hopefully they’ll get through to the final. 

“Droopys Denny just loves the track,” added Holloway. “He doesn't do anything at home, he won’t gallop, and it’s at the track where he thrives and he came charging out of the kennels this morning. It’s Hove on Thursday and then back at Central Park on Sunday. 

“Shaneboy Bowie never runs a bad race and is a great servant to the kennel, while Turnhouse Jet will improve again. He’s only had eight or so hurdles races and stayed on well in a pretty decent heat on Sunday.” 

That heat was the third qualifier when Seamus Cahill-trained the first and second with Springbok second Droopys Trawler edging out kennelmate Caislean Fifi in 29.13sec, while another Springbok finalist Mane Mane franked the form in heat four. 

Favourite to win the novice hurdlers’ championship then, the Ernie Gaskin-trained two-year-old came through strongly in a trouble-marred qualifier as he stretched four-and-a-half lengths clear of Emiles Eske (Jim Reynolds) to score in 29.53sec. 

Dan Homewood, deputy racing manager at the Kent venue, said: “Lenson Wilson showed real class and dominated and, while Droopys Denny took a while to get to the leaders, he also was impressive and now has two Category One semi-finals this week! 

‘I thought the battle between the two Seamus Cahill pair in heat there was a cracker, with Droopys Trawler just doing enough in front, although it was sad the defending champion Parkers Dynamite couldn't qualify here. 

“Of course heat four saw the injury to Burgess Brandy, but hopefully he’ll be back later in the year. Mane Mane took his chance well here and has done well in the draw, lining up in the second semi-final. The first semi definitely looks the stronger and more difficult. 

“Either way we’re set for another great night’s racing here at Central Park next Sunday.” 

Trap draw for Sunday’s semi-finals: