On His Own and Paul Townend (left) jump the last
©Healy Racing Photos
By Gary Carson
Thousand Stars proved a major disappointment as stable-mate and leading Grand National fancy On His Own landed the Grade 2 Labrokes Boyne Hurdle at Navan this afternoon.
Thousand Stars, so often bridesmaid to another illustrious stable-mate in Hurricane Fly, was sent off 1/2 favourite for the 2m5f event.
He was held up towards the rear but after a slight mistake at the third last the favourite dropped away tamely to finish last of the six finishers.
On His Own had taken up the running from long-time leader Si C'etait Vrai leaving the back straight but was strongly pressed by that rival and fellow Gigginstown runner Un Beau Matin at the third last.
Paul Townend's mount battled it out with Si C'etait Vrai before the final flight and stayed on best on the run-in to record a two-and-a-quarter length win at 10/1.
The winner was making his first start since falling at Bechers Brook in last season's Grand National when holding a prominent position.
“I've been trying to find a suitable hurdle race for him. He was a novice (over hurdles) before today but he's won a nice prize over hurdles now,” said Willie Mullins afterwards.
“Coming here today the plan was to give him another run over fences before the National but after winning today we might review that and he could have another run over hurdles.”
Mullins blamed the ground for the poor showing from Thousand Stars:- “Ruby said he just couldn't handle the ground. He came back in with muck halfway up his knees and just seemed to sink into it.
“He's unlikely to run at Cheltenham as the Aintree Hurdle is the one race we really have in mind for him.”
Boylesports made On His Own their 8/1 favourite for the Grand National, cutting him from 10/1. Ladbrokes priced up the winner at 10/1 for the Aintree showpiece. Stan James also make him 8/1 favourite from 12/1.
(Additional reporting by Alan Magee)