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Topham touchdown for Arizona Cardinal

Arizona Cardinal prevented a perfect Grand National rehearsal for Paul Townend when flying home in a thrilling conclusion to the Randox Supports Race Against Dementia Topham Handicap Chase.

A typically great sight as a packed field tackled the Grand National course, there were plenty in with chances as they approached the final fence.

Townend, who partners I Am Maximus in Saturday’s main event, headed to the elbow in front though and was travelling well aboard the Willie Mullins-trained James Du Berlais.

However, Stuart Edmunds’ Arizona Cardinal was keeping on gamely up the run-in under Ciaran Gethings.

With the stride of the Closutton challenger shortening in the dying strides, Arizona Cardinal clawed his way to the front to score at odds of 20-1, securing a length verdict at the line. Kandoo Kid took third with Celebre D’Allen a short head back in fourth.

Arizona Cardinal was realising a long-term plan for Edmunds and owners the Oakman Racing Club.

The trainer said: “You couldn’t quite believe it was happening to be honest.

“It is a massive emotion as the horse didn’t have it easy at the beginning of the season with a lung infection. It took a while for him to get over that, but he is a lovely horse and an absolute gentleman. It’s a massive team effort.

“It was seven or eight months ago when we started looking at this race, mainly because we thought his jumping was superb. We took him down to Lambourn to have a pop over the National fences and he was class and I don’t think he’s made a semblance of a mistake today.

“I thought he was beat and you’d be silly if you didn’t think he was beat, but the fact that he stays three miles has helped him on the soft ground.”

On a possible future tilt at the Grand National, Edmunds added: “He’d jump round, quite whether he’d get that trip (I’m not sure). We might try to stretch him to the Becher Chase and give it a try.

“He’s obviously relished the fences.”

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