Harrington dreaming of fulfilling Lifetime Ambition at Aintree

Last Updated 5 Apr 2023 | By Enda McElhinney | Commercial content | 18+ | Play Responsibly | T&C Apply | Wagering

Image via @BozBoston on Twitter

Legendary trainer Jessica Harrington is hopeful that she can fulfil one of the last remaining items on her racing wishlist when Lifetime Ambition tackles the Grand National at Aintree.

The Kildare-based trainer has captured many of the sports’ biggest prizes, including the Cheltenham Gold, but she readily admits that Aintree marathon is the one missing piece of her jigsaw now.

The aptly-named Lifetime Ambition is set to travel to Merseyside for the April 15th contest and attempt to quell the desire for Harrington.

Lots of positives on display

Lifetime Ambition meets plenty of the pre-requisites that are generally considered desirable for a potential Grand National winner.

He’s a dual chase winner, including at a trip beyond three-miles. He won that Grade 3 at Limerick last March before signing off his novice term with a fine second behind Capodanno in the Champion Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival.

This season began with a recce mission to Merseyside for the Grand Sefton over the National fences in November and, despite a 193-day absence, Lifetime Ambition caught the eye with a staying on fifth behind Al Dancer that afternoon over the relatively short 2m5f trip.

Since then, he’s been second to The Big Dog in the Troytown at Navan (3m, soft) that same month, third behind subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Galopin Des Champs in the John Durkan at Punchestown (2m4f, soft) in December and a well-held fourth in a Thurles Grade 2 won by Fakir D’oudairies in January.

He had a recent spin around Thurles in a hurdles race won by Summerville Boy to keep him sharp en route back to Aintree.

Trainer upbeat on Aintree hopes

Harrington is confident he has the right attributes to thrive over the extended four-and-a-quarter-mile trip back at Aintree, though clearly it represents an adventure into the unknown.

“He is going to definitely run in the National and Sean O’Keeffe is going to ride him. It’s all systems go,” said the Moone-based handler.

“He’s a nice horse who stays well,” she added. “All of his form is in the spring of the year and that is when he comes into himself.

“He knows the fences, I think he will stay and he is a horse who will be up there on the front end, hopefully keeping out of trouble, and hopefully the race will get run the way he likes it.”

Aintree stars have taken to the challenge

Harrington has been in racing a long time but it has only been relevantly recently she’s been able to find the right type of horse in her card to have a go at Aintree.

The mare Magic Of Light in 2019 was her first runner and ran an absolute blinder at odds of 66/1 in finishing second as Tiger Roll retained the prize.

Magic Of Light returned to Aintree much better fancied in 2021 only to unseat at the fourth, while the same year Jett was going well in front for a long way under Sam Waley-Cohen only for stamina to give way in the final stages.

Having recently made public that fact that she been undergoing treatment for cancer in recent months, Harrington will have plenty supporters amongst the racing public when Lifetime Ambition takes to the challenge and she admits it would be special to win the great race.

“I would be delighted to win it, it is a race I have always wanted to win,” she said. “I haven’t had that many runners, but it would be lovely to win one.”

Enda McElhinney

Enda McElhinney is a racing writer with a growing portfolio of work on both British and Irish racing, with a particular fondness for National Hunt racing. While he acknowledges there have been many great runners; there has only ever been one Denman.

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