Brain Power Wins Grand National at Far Hills

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Brain Power and Nico de Boinville | Sarah K. Andrew

By Don Clippinger

On an afternoon when Irish-based horses were expected to dominate the 99th Far Hills Races, Lambourn-based trainer Nicky Henderson pulled off a victory in Saturday’s GI Grand National when Michael Buckley’s Brain Power (Ire) (Kalanisi {Ire}) drew off to a 15-length victory after Wicklow Brave (GB) (Beat Hollow {GB}) sustained a fatal fall at the final fence.

Wicklow Brave, the 8-5 Grand National favorite, sustained a fractured right shoulder in the fall and was transported to the Far Hills Races’ stable area, where he was euthanized, New Jersey state veterinarian Stacey Romano reported.

Bruton Street-US, which had a banner day with two victories in Far Hills’ seven stakes races, took the second and third spots with Scorpiancer (Ire) (Scorpion {Ire}) and Moscato (GB) (Hernando {Fr}), respectively. Sideways Stable’s Jury Duty (Ire) (Well Chosen {GB}), the 2018 Grand National winner, finished fourth in a field of 12.

Sent off at 5.50-to-1, Brain Power ran the Grand National’s 2 5/8 miles in 4:55 3/5 on turf rated as good under jockey Nico de Boinville and paid $13 to win.

Brain Power had won Cheltenham’s Unibet International Hurdle last December but was pulled up in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr in April. Following the traditional summer break for National Hunt horses, the 8-year-old gelding was primed for a big effort in America.

Hudson River Farms’ Iranistan (Einstein {Brz}), coming back after nearly 14 months on the sidelines, broke sharply under Darren Nagle and set the pace with Wicklow Brave close behind him and Wendy Hendriks’ GI Lonesome Glory H. winner Surprising Soul (Perfect Soul {Ire}) close behind them.

De Boinville placed Brain Power close to the leaders and powered over the fences in the early going. As the field completed two miles, De Boinville moved Brain Power into third place. “He placed me wherever I wanted to be,” he said.

Iranistan began to tire on the final turn, placing Wicklow Brave on the lead as Brain Power set sail for the final fence. Wicklow Brave met the fence wrong and toppled over it. Brain Power jumped the final obstacle without incident and drew away to the finish line.

Scorpiancer, the two-time GI Calvin Houghland Iroquois winner, finished second, a neck ahead of stablemate Moscato. Both are trained by Jack Fisher. Jury Duty finished 18 1/2 lengths farther back in fourth.

De Boinville said Brain Power flourished on the Far Hills turf. “He jumped very well, and he ran very well,” he said.

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