When he goes to Far Hills for the American Grand National on Saturday, Cheltenham Festival star Seddon will have the chance to go in Hewick’s footsteps.
The next Irish contender for America’s highest jumping award is John McConnell’s stable star, and the handler is excited about the chance to add to the 10-year-old’s already impressive résumé in New Jersey.
Seddon has proven to be a wise investment for McConnell and owns the rs the Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate, winning four times last season, including giving his trainer his first victory at the Cheltenham Festival when he won the Magners Plate before increasing his fortune over hurdles at the Punchestown equivalent.
He was most recently seen losing by a neck at Galway last month, and his trainer thinks that his adaptability will be helpful in preparation for his most recent big-race assignment.
It’s interesting and thrilling, McConnell remarked.
Anything beyond this is a bonus because he has unquestionably been a star and a once-in-a-lifetime horse for his syndicate, myself, and Ben (Harvey, jockey). It was a thrilling opportunity to try, and I’ll be glad if he finishes his race and returns home without incident.
He jumps well over both hurdles and fences, so I don’t believe there will be an issue. Add in the great ground, and I believe the journey will be OK. We have high hopes, but I suppose it all depends on how he fits in.
Ben Harvey, who has a great partnership with Seddon and will be riding for the first time in America, will also have a spectacular afternoon.
McConnell continued, “Ben rides him and he looks forward to it.
He has never ridden there before, but we wouldn’t have anyone else on him at this point because of his outstanding pacing judgment.
Raiders from Britain and Ireland have a fine recent record in the Far Hills feature with Hewick using the race as a stepping stone to bigger and better things last year and McConnell has been given plenty of advice from Hewick’s handler John ‘Shark’ Hanlon ahead of Seddon’s cross-Atlantic adventure.
He added: “Shark paved the way and I’ve had a good chat with him about it.
“He has been very helpful and everybody has been really helpful to us along the way and I just want to see him get on the track and get it over with now.”
Last season was somewhat of a breakthrough year for McConnell who as well as tasting success at all three of the major spring festivals, matched his highest number of winners tally in the UK and almost doubled his previous best on home soil.
Now the Stamullen-based handler believes he has got his best National Hunt squad heading into the depths of winter and as well as the familiar names of Seddon, Mahler Mission, and Anna Bunina, McConnell has highlighted dual bumper winner Intense Approach as one who could thrive this term.
“They are all coming together nicely,” said McConnell. “Some of the bigger yards are starting to roll out now so that will be challenging and we’ll mix it between the UK and Ireland over the winter.
“We’ve got the best set of jumps horses we have ever had so hopefully that will get us some rewards.
“Intense Approach would probably be the horse to watch, he’s won two bumpers for us in Ireland and he will go hurdling. We like him and think he is a fairly special horse.
“He’ll start in a maiden and see after that, but he’s a lovely horse and hopefully we will go to some top places with him.”