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Warne targets Aintree glory

By Ron McKnight

Rivals have been warned – Ulster's star steeplechaser Warne is now in the hands of new English connections and has eyes for glory in the Aintree Foxhunters next month.

The horse, formerly owned by the Magill family from Ballygowan and trained by Edward O'Grady, has developed into one of the best Irish Hunterchasers.

Warne made a winning debut for the Magill family and Downpatrick trainer Brian Hamilton at Kirkistown before claiming another similar point to point contest and a Listowel Hunterchase in 2012. However, the 10-year-old has excelled this season.

A return to Kirkistown for a prep outing on unsuitable ground left the horse right to contest the big Raymond Smith Memorial Hunterchase on Irish Hennessy Gold Cup day at Leopardstown last month.

The local horse finished a very creditable and close third behind Tammys Hill – winner of last week's amateur riders showcase contest – the Cheltenham Festival Foxhunters.

Warne reappeared to win in style at Fairyhouse, beating Seabass – third in the 2012 Aintree Grand National last month and finished fourth with no luck in last year's Aintree Foxhunters.

The local team decided to give the horse a short break and aim at Aintree again next month.

The new owner is Sam Whaley-Cohen, who in 2011 became the first amateur rider in 30 years to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Long Run.

The sale was organised by top bloodstock agent, Anthony Bromley on behalf of the Waley-Cohens.

Peter Magill said: "The horse has been lucky for us and a real star as the family have been involved with point to points for decades.

"While I'm sad to see him go, I could not refuse the offer to buy him – he will remain with Brian [Hamilton] at Downpatrick until the Aintree Foxhunters and I wish the new owner/rider every success and will be the first to congratulate him if the horse wins the Foxhunters next month."

* Tony McCoy rode his 200th winner of the season when Palermo Don struck in the finale at Haydock.

The perennial champion jockey yet again reached the noteworthy landmark when he got Donald McCain's 8-11 favourite home in the 32Red Tomb Raider Slot Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Palermo Don had three lengths in reserve of Pied Du Roi at the winning line.

Meanwhile, Bush Warrior remains a winner waiting to happen after a narrow defeat on his second career outing at Lingfield.

Robert Eddery's Bushranger juvenile was quite short in the betting for the five-furlong maiden after a promising fourth at the course earlier in the month, but he was far too free to post and ran green from the stalls. In the end he got his act together to finish second behind Rock N Rouge and would be worth giving another chance to in maiden company before he starts handicapping.

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