JOCKEY Stan Sheppard admits he has only just come down to Earth following his victory in the Wigley Group Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick aboard Iwilldoit, who he hopes will now provide him with a first-ever ride in the Randox Grand National at Aintree.

The Ledbury-based rider celebrated his most valuable victory of the season on in the Premier Handicap when steering the 12-1 chance to glory on his first outing since the pair teamed up to secure the 2021 Welsh Grand National 383 days ago.

Despite having a lengthy absence to overcome the gelded son of Flying Legend made light work of testing conditions in the three miles and five furlongs feature prize when prevailing by two-and three-quarter lengths to maintain his unbeaten record under Sheppard. 

Iwilldoit will now run in either the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury or the Betfair Ascot Chase next month in order to qualify for the Aintree showpiece, which requires all horses to have run in at least six races over fences by February 19.

While neither Sheppard, nor Iwiildoit, has any previous experience over the famous Grand National fences, the 25-year-old rider is confident that the Diamond Racing-owned gelding would equip himself well in the race should he make an appearance in it.

Sheppard said: “I’d say I’ve just about come back down to earth now. I went to the gym on Monday and that put me back in my place. 

“I believe Aintree is now the plan and that there are two races in mind, the Denman Chase over three miles at Newbury and the Ascot Chase over two miles five. He literally only needs to get around in either race as he has to have six runs over fences to qualify for the Grand National.

“I’ve never ridden over the Grand National fences and it is the one thing on my list that I want to do. I definitely think he would be fine over those fences. It was only his fifth run over fences on Saturday and he jumped better than he probably did both times I rode him at Chepstow. 

“I also don’t think he needs particularly heavy ground. As long as it is not quick in the Grand National, he will be fine.”

Luck can often be the difference between victory and defeat but Sheppard was fairly optimistic from a long way out that it was going to take a good one to stop the 10 year old from making a triumphant return. 

He added: “I got to a point down the back straight where I thought he was clearly fit enough as he has got me this far and that is when I started to get a bit excited.”