Liverpool Hurdle next up for revived Thyme Hill, says trainer Philip Hobbs

PHILIP Hobbs reports the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle at next week’s Randox Grand National Festival is still “very much the plan” for Thyme Hill.

NEXT UP: Thyme Hill, pictured winning at Newbury under former champion jockey Richard Johnson, is set for Aintree, says trainer Philip Hobbs.

The Grade One winner was forced to miss an intended outing in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival after a setback during the build-up.

Hobbs hopes Thyme Hill, the mount of former champion jockey Richard Johnson, can return to winning ways in the extended three-mile Grade One, better known as the Liverpool Hurdle, on Saturday week.

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Thyme Hill was last sighted finishing second behind Paisley Park in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot before Christmas, having previously made a triumphant return to action when claiming the third Grade Two race of his career in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in November.

OPTIMISTIC: Trainer Philip Hobbs. Picture: David Davies/PA

Hobbs said: “The Liverpool Hurdle is still the plan. He pulled a muscle on his right-hand side behind the saddle which meant he had to miss Cheltenham.

“He had a fairly easy week after that but we have had plenty of time to build him back up and get him ready for Aintree.

“His last run in the Long Walk was good. It was a top end race as you would expect. Obviously he was just beaten by Paisley Park who has run well in the Stayers’ Hurdle since and he beat the nice filly of Dan Skelton’s (Roksana).”

Meanwhile, racing’s thoughts were with the family and friends of North Yorkshire-based conditional jockey Aidan MacDonald who is in a critical condition in hospital after being taken ill a fortnight after a fall at Hexham.

MacDonald, 21, was riding Russian Royale for Middleham trainer Micky Hammond in a mares’ handicap hurdle on March 18 when falling three flights from home. Hawick-born MacDonald, who is attached to Hammond’s yard where he has worked for a number of years and is a much- valued member of the team, was taken to hospital on the same day and later discharged.

However, he has been readmitted after reportedly collapsing in Middleham on Wednesday.

In a statement, the Injured Jockeys Fund said: “Conditional Jockey Aidan MacDonald had a fall at Hexham racecourse on March 18 and went to the RVI (Royal Victoria Infirmary) in Newcastle, from where he received extensive testing and was subsequently discharged.

“Yesterday, after being taken ill, he went in an ambulance to the James Cook Middlesbrough Hospital. He is in a critical condition and receiving active treatment for a suspected carotid artery dissection.

“Aidan’s parents kindly ask for privacy at this difficult time.”

Cazoo, the online car retailer, has been unveiled as the new sponsor of the Derby at Epsom.

The multi-year partnership with Jockey Club Racecourses, which runs Epsom, includes naming rights, significant brand exposure and exclusive naming of eight races during the Cazoo Derby Festival, scheduled for June 4 and 5 – with the Cazoo Oaks the highlight on day one.

In addition, Cazoo will also have exposure and branding rights all year at The Jockey Club’s 15 racecourses across the UK.

Cazoo also sponsors Aston Villa and Everton, cricket’s The Hundred, the EFL, the Rugby League World Cup 2021 and multiple snooker events.

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