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Sheppard has Road map for Scottish National bid

Ikorodu Road will be aimed at the Scottish Grand National after winning his second big pot of the season at Newbury.

Matt Sheppard's stable star had won the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster last time out, and this win boosted the chances of Junior at Aintree as he was only a short-head behind him on Town Moor.

Sent off at 4/1 in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase, the nine-year-old showed reservoirs of stamina to beat the staying-on Ouzbeck by four and a half lengths.

Favourite Mon Parrain travelled supremely well through the race, as is his wont, but not for the first time seemed to empty as soon as Ruby Walsh asked him for his effort.

"He didn't start out the season impressively but he's really got his act together now. The further he goes, the better he goes. Charlie Poste gets on well with him as he really needs quite a bit of driving and he never gives up," said Sheppard.

"He has been beaten a few short-heads in the past but he now looks very determined, he won quite comfortably today and broke the track record. Fast ground will never stop him. I've never been more confident this horse was going to win in my life. Just the way he's been since he won at Doncaster."

Venetia Williams completed a fine training performance as Pepite Rose (13/8f) ran out an easy winner of the EBF/Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Mares' Chase Finale.

At Gowran Park, meanwhile, champion trainer Willie Mullins sprung a major surprise in the Ballyhale Novice Hurdle when he won the race with unconsidered 50-1 shot Tango Banbou.

Disappointing in two runs over fences since arriving from France, including when pulled up at the beginning of the month, the five-year-old was allowed a big lead in the early part of the race.

All efforts to reel him in proved fruitless as the testing ground took its toll in the closing stages, and Emmet Mullins kept him going to beat Touch Back by five and a half lengths.

The stable had already notched up a winner with Loch Ard, who made a promising start to his jumps career when fourth in a Grade Two at Fairyhouse last month and had no trouble building on that in the Spring Team Classic Final 2012 At Gowran Park Maiden Hurdle. Paul Townend rode a supremely confident race, leaving it to the last flight to challenge for the lead, and the 4-7 favourite eased away to score by two and three-quarter lengths.

Sunday Indo Sport