Phil Kirby ponders National tilt with Top Ville Ben

Top Ville Ben (right) was a game winner of the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day.
Top Ville Ben (right) was a game winner of the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day.

Phil Kirby has hinted that he’s considering a tilt at the Grand National with Top Ville Ben, after his game effort to win the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day.

The seven-year-old was an excellent third behind Lostintranslation in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at the Grand National Festival last year, and he returned to winning ways with a tenacious front-running success at Wetherby on Boxing Day, pulling clear from the Venetia Williams-trained Didero Vallis to record an eight-length success.

It was a performance that Kirby was pleased with, particularly with how he was able to settle having gone with too much zest when fifth in the Charlie Hall Chase here in November. 

He told the Jumps Racing Podcast: “To be honest I was more delighted he settled for a circuit. To win is brilliant, 'Plan A' today was to try and turn him into a different horse and make him a horse that can run in these good races - and settling for a circuit is big big process.”

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The Rowland Meyrick is a good indicator for the Grand National, with last year’s winner Lake View Lad being sent off as short as 14/1 for last season’s Aintree spectacular, and Kirby admitted that the race is on Top Ville Ben's radar.

He said: “It’s a possibility. It’s not the be all and end all this year, but it’s something we were thinking about a while ago, though winning that may cost us (at the weights). 

“I think he’s the type (for the National), whether it’s this year or not we’ll decide yet, but he’s a lovely horse and he’s going the right way.”

You can listen to Phil’s thoughts in full on the next episode of the Jumps Racing Podcast, which is due out on Friday 3rd January 2020. 

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