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Goonyella shines in National battle

Goonyella led home an Irish one-two in a gruelling race for the Betfred Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter.

The eight-year-old, trained by Jim Dreaper, whose late father Tom was responsible for legendary chaser Arkle, kept on dourly in the straight to beat his compatriot Raz De Maree.

It was a notable triumph for 3lb claimer Johnny Burke, retained rider for winning owners Ann and Alan Potts.

There was drama early on when Global Power fell at the first, while groans followed as the well-backed Catching On, ridden by Tony McCoy, fell at the eighth fence causing Summery Justice to part company with Liam Treadwell.

McCoy was quickly on his feet as he walked gingerly away.

Samingarry, Cadeau George and Rigadin De Beauchene cut out the running until the fourth-last fence when the testing conditions took their toll.

Goonyella and Hawkes Point went on and it was the former, sent off at 6-1, who proved the strongest in the field as he won by nine lengths from the Sandra Hughes-trained Raz De Maree (20-1).

Woodford County (11-1) stuck on for third, with Hawkes Point (9-1) fourth and Foxbridge (10-1) fifth.

Burke said: "He deserves it more than any horse in training. He's very consistent and he's very tough. I was in front half a mile too soon, but he's jumped his way there. He was idling in front, but got there.

"I want to thank everyone at home for giving me the opportunity."

The trainer's son Thomas said: "It was the right race for him - four miles on heavy ground around a big, fair track. We're over the moon.

"We came for a reason. We thought of the likes of the Kim Muir and the Irish National, but three and a half (miles) is not far enough. This was the survival of the fittest and he's got plenty of ability.

"The rider's 3lb claim put him in 3lb better off than he would be at home and it worked out great.

"He's got no chance of getting in the Grand National. What we'll do now, I don't know. Good ground at Fairyhouse (in the Irish Grand National) is just too sharp for him.

"If every horse could win one of these in their career you'd be happy enough."

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