Punchestown redemption Mission a possibility for Mahler

McConnell hope unseated his rider at the Chair in the Grand National.

John McConnell’s Mahler Mission could head to the Punchestown Gold Cup if he fares well following his Randox Grand National mishap.

The eight-year-old was fairly well backed for the world’s most famous steeplechase, starting at 18-1 under Ben Harvey having finished second in both the Colin Parker at Carlisle and the Coral Gold Cup earlier in the term.

Last season he looked a sure winner of the three-mile-six-furlong National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival before falling close to home, a luckless run that nevertheless demonstrated his stamina.

That stamina was set to be put to the test at Aintree but luck abandoned Mahler Mission again as he got a little too close to The Chair and unseated his rider on landing.

The horse then ran loose for the rest of the contest and actually crossed the line riderless in second place, though thankfully he was unharmed after his exertions.

Assuming all is well following the trip to Liverpool, he will remain in action into the spring, with Punchestown high up on his agenda and a foray to France also a possibility.

“He’s got a few scratches and knocks but he’s fine, he’s all good,” said McConnell.

“He was just warming into it, we were getting to be happy with where he was but you just can’t leave your back legs in The Chair and he paid the price.

“It’s a frustrating thing to happen but he came back in one piece and that’s the most important thing.”

The National could feature in McConnell’s plans for Mahler Mission next term and more immediately there is Punchestown on the horizon.

“It was a bit stressful (when he was loose) but when he got to the front he was fine, he was bounding away and seemed to enjoy it so we might go back,” McConnell said.

“He’s in the Punchestown Gold Cup at the end of the month and that’s a possibility, there’s also a couple of races in France.

“Everything’s up in the air and if he didn’t run again this season it wouldn’t be a big deal and we’d just make a plan for next season, but at the minute Punchestown is on the agenda if everything’s OK.”

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