10/24/2010 10:03AM

Percussionist airs in Grand National


Percussionist, a success in Europe on the flat and over hurdles, captured the Grade 1, $250,000 Grand National Steeplechase on Saturday in his U.S. debut.

The well traveled 9-year-old gelding was bred in Ireland and raced most recently in Norway. He has now added the North America’s most prestigious jump race to his resume with the victory at the annual one-day meet at Far Hills in the heart of central New Jersey’s horse country.

Regular jockey James Patrick O’Farrell was aboard for trainer Hanne Bechmann as Percussionist clinched the win with a strong stretch rally that produced a seven-length victory. Slip Away was second with Lead Us Not third in the 12-horse field. The time was 5:00.40 for the 2 5-8 miles over the firm course.

The same connections - Bechmann and owners Morten Bushtop and Old Friends Stable - were second in last year’s Grand National with General Ledger.

Prior to the start of the day’s action, Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard was honored for his recent milestone of saddling 1,000 steeplechase winners.

Sheppard then proceeded to pick up two more wins as One Giant Step won the $25,000 Harry E. Harris Sports of Kings maiden hurdle and Nationbuilder took the $100,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle