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Grand National 2015: Brian Hamilton has Warne all set for testing spin

By Ron McKnight

Downpatrick trainer Brian Hamilton has his team in top form as he heads to Aintree with Warne in a bid for back-to-back victories in the Foxhunters over the Grand National fences today.

Warne will again be partnered by Sam Waley-Cohen following his father and friends purchasing the local horse in advance of Aintree last year.

Hamilton said: "Warne is all set for Aintree. He is going there reasonably straight and although I would have liked to have got a harder race into him (Warne was a very easy winner at Kirkistown point-to-point) he has come on nicely in the last week or so.

"Everything went very smoothly for him right the way through last season whereas this season it has not been ideal because he was sick early on and it took a while to get him organised.

"He also had a little back problem but we are back on an even course and he is in as good form as I can get him in.

"He is not far off where he was last year but he would need to be at that level or probably better to beat On The Fringe."

Trainer Enda Bolger has indicated On The Fringe - winner of the Cheltenham Festival Foxhunters last month - has had the Aintree race as his target for some time.

Ulster connections will be doubly represented in the Aintree Foxhunters with Illusion Of Time, trained near Armagh by Keith Watson, another set to tackle the big fences following a successful season.

Illusion Of Time won three point-to-points, placed in two hunter chases and was unlucky to lose his rider two from home at Down Royal last month when looking the winner.

Hamilton, meanwhile, has had a good week, the highlight coming at Fairyhouse on Tuesday when Jimmy Two Times - owned by Belfast bookmaker Sean P Graham - won the £55,000 three mile novice handicap hurdle in a thrilling finish.

That followed a winner at the Templepatrick point-to-point on Easter Monday when Lucky Pass made an impressive winning debut.

Declan Lavery - the amateur stable rider to the Downpatrick handler - partnered both winners.

Hamilton said of Jimmy Two Times: "If the ground is not too quick he could go to Punchestown but we'll have to see how he comes out of this.

"I think he'll improve for another year as he's still immature.

"I'm delighted for Sean (Graham). He had a point-to-point horse with me - when that was sold on he said he'd buy another one. That would be my biggest winner."

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