Strolling Lane

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NORMAN WILLIAMSON'S extraordinary week was capped when he landed the Midlands National on the 12-1 shot Lucky Lane at Uttoxeter yesterday .

Williamson, who was still basking in the glory of his successes in the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup at Cheltenham, gave the Philip Hobbs-trained horse a vigorous ride before coming home one and three-quarter lengths ahead of Arthur's Minstrel.

After dismounting, the Irishman exclaimed: "This is unbelievable. When I had a fall on Captain Tandy in the first race, I thought that the bubble had burst. I knew this horse jumped well and stayed but I was amazed at the way he got away from the back of the fences so easily. When I still had plenty of horse under me at the fourth last fence I thought we could win."

Hobbs, who won this race back in 1989 with Gallic Prince, was on duty at Hereford, so his wife Sarah greeted Lucky Lane into the winner's enclosure.

Lucky Lane is not entered for the Grand National, because the race is restricted to horses rated 115 or more by the British Horseracing Board's Handicapper and he only figures on 108, but connections will be looking for any long-distance races.

Both the second and third, Arthur's Minstrel and Scribbler, are entered for Aintree and were quoted at 50-1 by William Hill's spokesman David Hood after the race. However, neither one is certain to take part.

Arthur's Minstrel's trainer David Nicholson said he had not yet made a decision, while the Irish trainer Arthur Moore was more definite, saying Scribbler would be absent from Liverpool. "He's too far out of the handicap and I am happy with third place here," he said.