Richard Cully has ridden Wells (r) to a thrilling victory in the Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown.
Champion jumper Wells has some unfinished business after claiming a second victory in the Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown.
A fourth win in the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat in three weeks now awaits Wells after a nail-biting finish to Sunday’s 4200m-feature.
Wells was the $3 favourite to claim a record fourth win in last year’s Grand National, but lost jockey Richard Cully early in the race.
There were no problems on Sunday with Wells giving a faultless display of jumping to claim a short-head victory over Slowpoke Rodrigeuz.
Craig Durden, deputising for his trainer wife Kathryn, said the welfare of Wells came first but the 12-year-old showed he was on target for the Grand National.
“We have a bit of unfinished there at Ballarat but first and foremost we’ll get him home and make sure all is spot-on with him,” Durden said.
“The Grand National is naturally the next race for him but we just want to make sure he’s right and comes through this race 100 per cent before we lock that in.
“If he goes there and performs like he did today and runs second, we’d still be very proud of him because he’s been an amazing horse for a long time.”
Durden said there was further improvement fitness-wise from Wells ahead of the Grand National.
“I said to Richie I thought he was better than what he was at Pakenham and with three weeks until the National he should come on again,” Durden said.
“He’s racing against horses that have been up and racing from early in the season and he’s had to come back and get his race craft again.
“I don’t think I’ve been associated with a braver horse.
“The other horse came to beat him but he wouldn’t be denied. He’s done it before and he just keeps doing it.”
Cully described Wells as a superstar and a horse in a different league from his rivals.
“He’s not getting any younger and is only doing as much as he has to but anytime something comes to him, he just keeps on fighting,” Cully said.
“He’s got a heart as big as himself.”