Magic Of Light took the next step towards a return outing in the Randox Health Grand National with a second successive victory in the bet365 Mares’ Hurdle at Ascot.
Giving weight away all round, the Jessica Harrington-trained nine-year-old made a triumphant return to hurdles to become the first back-to-back winner of the Grade Two prize.
Dictating matters from the outset, last year’s National runner-up stayed on strongly after the last to defeat the hat-trick-seeking Sensulano by four and three quarter lengths.
Winning rider Robbie Power said of the 5-2 shot: “I thought it was a much better race than last year and arguably she was more impressive.
“We schooled her last week at home over hurdles, just to get her eye in, and straight away she was down flicking away, but she is a real professional.
“She does feel stronger this season. It was unbelievable when she came back in from her holidays, as she ruled the roost out in the field – she was eating the feed of two horses.
“When she came back in we thought we are never going to get her fit as she got so big and burly. I thought today was a better race than last year, on ground that wouldn’t be ideal for her, but she is a real genuine, admirable mare.”
A step up to Grade One company at the Cheltenham Festival could be next on the cards for Magic Of Light in the Mares’ Hurdle, in which she was introduced at 16-1 for by BetVictor.
Power added: “I’d imagine she might go to Cheltenham and run in the Mares’ Hurdle or something like that, just as a run en route to Aintree. I will leave that all up to Jessie though.”
Should Magic Of Light remain over hurdles at the Festival, it could see her in a rematch with Sensulano.
Trainer Noel Williams said: “She has run well, but has been beaten by a very strong mare. She got the three miles well and it is more black type in the book.
“I’ve put her in the Mares’ Hurdle at the Festival and I will stick her in the Close Brothers as well, which I would say is probably more likely for her.”