Thompsons aim for Party Politics repeat in Grand National

NATIONAL HOPE:  Le Mercurey (left, pictured at Newbury) is one of two horses that will represent Mr and Mrs Thompson in the Grand National. PICTURE: Racing Post
NATIONAL HOPE: Le Mercurey (left, pictured at Newbury) is one of two horses that will represent Mr and Mrs Thompson in the Grand National. PICTURE: Racing Post
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The running of this year’s Randox Health Grand National will mark 25 years since Party Politics memorably clinched the top prize.

The eight-year-old had only been purchased by David and Patricia Thompson in the week leading up to the big race, yet it came through to win over the hurdles at Aintree by two-and-a-half lengths from Romany King.

BECHERS CHAMP: Highland Lodge (right) has been purchased by the Thompsons. PICTURE: Racing Post

BECHERS CHAMP: Highland Lodge (right) has been purchased by the Thompsons. PICTURE: Racing Post

And a quarter of a century later, the Thompsons, who own Cheveley Park Stud, are bidding to replicate that triumph with two eleventh-hour buys.

Le Mercurey and Highland Lodge are the horses in question, with both set to represent the husband-and-wife team on Saturday (5.15pm).

The Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old Le Mercurey has been in good form of late, chasing home 2015 Grand National winner Many Clouds on the Mildmay Course at Aintree in December and filling the same position behind Native River in the Denman Chase at Newbury.

And 11-year-old Highland Lodge, trained by Jimmy Moffatt, has previous on the Aintree track after winning the Becher Chase two years ago and finishing runner-up in the same race 12 months later.

Speaking of the double acquisition, Cheveley Park Stud’s managing director, Chris Richardson, said: “Mr and Mrs Thompson had great success with Party Politics — he arrived just days before so hopefully that same fortune will follow this time.

“Le Mercurey has got youth on his side and has some very good form in the book.

“He is young, so he has 
also been looked at with the future in mind, maybe Cheltenham.

“As for Highland Lodge, he is a bit of an Aintree specialist and has plenty of experience.

“He has been prepared in recent months with this race in mind.

“His arrival gives us another little chance of winning.”

As far as the bookmakers are concerned, the Thompsons’ two new additions are worthy each-way shouts with odds of 25-1 (Highland Lodge) and 33-1 (Le Mercurey).

But with over four miles of ground to cover and 16 fences — the first 14 of which are jumped twice — the couple know only too well of the good fortune required to emerge victorious on Merseyside.

While Party Politics came up trumps for them in 1992, more recent interests like Character Building and Mumbles Head have fallen short.

“We are all realistic. You dream of winning The National like you do The Guineas or Derby,” added Richardson.

“It is a lifelong ambition for some people and luckily for Mr and Mrs Thompson, they have already achieved it.

“They have got a 130 mares and 90 horses training on the flat with 10 different trainers — it is their passion and why they want to try to win it again.

“You need a huge amount of luck and simply have to roll the dice and see what happens.”

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