Gavin Cromwell is billed as a 'trainer with a difference' and the Co Meath-based handler will be hoping that Vanillier can make a major difference going forward after a promising Grand National second in 2023.
Cromwell has showcased his training talents with wins including the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with Espoir D'allen in 2019, and he would have taken lots of confidence from watching the grey finish second behind Corach Rambler at .
Still just eight-years-old, the future remains bright for Vanillier and returning to Merseyside in the future look a sure-fire plan for him.
|Where||Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool|
|When||5.15, Saturday 13th April 2024|
|How to watch||bet365 live Sports Streaming Service, ITV and Racing TV|
|Odds||Corach Rambler 20/1, Noble Yeats 25/1, I Am Maximus 25/1, Vanillier 25/1, Mr Incredible 33/1, Delta Work 33/1|
Vanillier hadn't achieved a whole amount in three runs this season prior to shaping with much more promise at Fairyhouse in February.
He began at Down Royal in November where he finished third of four in a race won by Fury Road for Gordon Elliott. That two-and-a-half-mile trip was inadequate and his connections were likely happy enough with the run.
The Dublin Racing Festival hasn't been a happy hunting ground for Vanillier and it proved so again in February when he was a faller in a big handicap chase at Leopardstown, once again over a trip shorter than optimal.
That setback was soon erased however, as three weeks later Vanillier was a half-length second behind multiple Grade 1 winner Kemboy from the Willie Mullins string in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse.
Getting back to a trip in excess of three-miles clearly aided his cause as made some eye-catching late progress to give the winner a scare in the closing stages.
That run was enough to have plenty well-placed judges touting him as a contender for Aintree and, having been as big as 66/1 in the betting at one stage, his price contracted and he'd go off at 20/1 in Aintree's biggest race.
As a winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2021 as a novice over timber, stamina has always been a trait that would serve Vanillier well.
So it proved on Merseyside when Vanillier chased home Corach Rambler in the National.
Sean Flanagan always had the grey relatively close to the pacesetters but they were to some degree caught unawares as the easy-travelling winner Corach Rambler cruised to the front between the final two fences.
Lucinda Russell's charge was of course 10lb 'well-in' for that contest and grabbed the initiative, but Vanillier really stayed on powerfully after they jumping was done and closed to within 2¼-lengths at the line when for a good way it seems certain Corach Rambler would win with more in hand.
It was encouraging for sure and Vanillier has now rubberstamped the idea that his stamina will be a key asset in a future Grand National. He's a 25/1 to come back and win the race in 2024 and as the likes of Tiger Roll, Any Second Now and Delta Work have shown recently, experience of the unique Aintree test is no bad thing.
The trainer admitted it was a 'fantastic run' at Aintree behind Corach Rambler in the circumstances.
"He got shuffled back a bit early on and as a result had to come from too far back. He was staying on really well at the line," he told Racing TV.
"Thrilled with the run but…[wondering] what could have been too."
The impressive Irishman also confirmed that he was very much encouraged to come back and target the Grand National again with Vanillier in the future following their silver medal.