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Kildisart’s trainer hopes for Grand National 2022 ‘hole in one’ on Masters weekend

The main gallop at Ben Pauling’s new stables in Gloucestershire is positioned in the middle of an 18-hole golf course. He saddles his first runner in the 2022 Grand National

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Grand National 2022: All you need to know

On Aintree’s lush turf, trainer Ben Pauling hopes to hit a hole in one.

He tees off for the first time in the Grand National with Kildisart. Never before has he saddled a runner in the world’s most famous race at the Liverpool venue.

With 30 fences over four-and-a-quarter miles, it is a unique test of the thoroughbred. And Pauling will soon be standing out from the crowd with his newest venture.

Kildisart and his stablemates are just days away from moving into stables adjacent to the local golf course. Pauling and his wife Sophie bought Naunton Downs in Gloucestershire, their first big project after nearly a decade in the business.

If Kildisart can go close, on the weekend of the Masters, it will be the scene for a huge celebration.

“We couldn’t have been happier with his prep run at Newbury and he has been in brilliant form since which has been great to see,” Pauling said. “He schooled over the National fences in Lambourn recently and couldn’t have jumped any better.”

Champagne corks have already popped aplenty at the clubhouse this spring. Pauling trained his first Cheltenham Festival winner for three years when Global Citizen stormed up the hill in the Grand Annual.

Daryl Jacob riding Kildisart to win at Cheltenham Racecourse



They toasted the success with the Megson family, the owners of the chaser, staff, friends and family. The impressive display came just at the right time, after waiting two years for the new yard to take shape during the coronavirus pandemic.

Eventually they will get to see the 94 boxes, two gallops, exercise rings and schooling facilities come to fruition. Unlike some of the younger equine members of the team, assured jumper Kildisart needs little practice.

An impressive winner over conventional fences at the Grand National meeting in 2019, he has completed every one of his 20 races. The ten-year-old also got within a neck of giving his stable another Cheltenham Festival triumph in the 2020 Ultima – and his mark is now 2lb lower.

Horses racing on Aintree’s famous Grand National course



“We always thought he could make up into a National horse one day,” added Pauling. “He would have run in it two years ago when it was cancelled (due to the pandemic) so we were always keen to get back there.

“We were thrilled with his last run at Newbury. He always takes a run to get fit and over two-and-a-half miles he lacked a bit of pace before staying on very well up the home straight to finish fourth.”

Pauling dreams that Kildisart can follow the lead of Mr Frisk, the horse he fondly remembers winning the 1990 National in record time.

“I was seven-years-old then,” he added. “He was great to watch. The National is still the best known horse race across the world and if our horse could win like him it would be something really quite incredible.”

Kildisart’s jockey James Bowen, thrilled to see his brother Sean win a race over the National fences yesterday on Mac Tottie, was not even born when Mr Frisk was guided home by rider turned journalist Marcus Armytage. The 21-year-old sportsman will be the hero of the clubhouse, where Mayfair member’s club Fitzdares have their first permanent home out of London, if he can repeat the trick.

“In my previous attempts I pulled up on Shantou Flyer and was ninth on Outlander, so I’ve had a couple of good spins,” Bowen said.

“Kildisart is definitely the classiest horse I’ve ridden in the race. When you have a horse that has run in these big handicaps at Cheltenham and Aintree before and been able to finish pretty close in those races it is a massive factor – you need that coming into a Grand National.”

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