Thursday, 10 October 2013

1st visit to Towcester

I made the journey to Towcester for the first time yesterday as I continue my quest to visit all 60 racecourses in the UK with Towcester being the 57th I've visited and after a rather drawn out bus ride from Milton Keynes railway station that took the best part of a hour through I finally reached my final destination and was very impressed with the outstanding viewing offered from the too excellent new grandstands at this Buckingshire venue and after a wander around the betting rind and parade ring I must say I was very impressed with what I saw.

The racing itself wasn't of the highest quality but this is Towcester not Cheltenham but despite the relatively low grade racing on offer the racing was still very competitive with several exciting finishes especially in the opening race with the TimVaughan trained My Oh Mount Brown just holding off the top weight and 25-1 shot backed by yours truly Val D'Allier in a titanic tussle up the Towcester hill.

The best performance of the day was undoubtedly the Emma Leville trained 6yo Clarok Cloak a 140 rated hurdler making his chasing debut in the 2m novice chase and regardless of the weak opposition there was plenty to like as he negotiated this very tricky track for a novice with a effortless 15 length victory. He may well be up to mixing it at a much higher level as the new season progresses tho the trainer did say he would not appreciate very soft ground so will bear this in mind.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Sizing Europe back with a bang

Good evening.

October is here which means the new NH season is upon us and the evergreen Sizing Europe gave a taster of things to come over the winter months with a excellent winning seasonal debut from a very useful field at Gowan Park yesterday and despite his advancing age there is no doubt there will be more big prize's in store for him in the coming months and it would be fascinating to see if he finally gets the chance to run over 3m on decent ground and this would be most likely to occur at Kempton on Boxing Day for the King George Chase and granted his optimum conditions he could be a formidable contender where several 11 year olds have been successful most notable the legendary Kauto Star two years ago in this mid season showpiece and who knows a bold show at Kempton could even lead to a Cheltenham Gold Cup bid as its very hard to seeing and any other horse for that matter challenging the sensational Sprinter Sacre in the Champion Chase at the Festival providing Nicky Henderson's unbeaten chaser stays sound thou personally despite him being twelve come March the Ryanair could present the perfect oppurtunity to land a third success at The Festival.

Monday, 27 May 2013

End of an era as Ruby Walsh stands down as stable jockey to Paul Nicholls

After 11 years hugely successful years as stable jockey to multiple times British champion trainer Paul Nicholls while at the same time also being stable jockey in his home country of Ireland  to the all conquering Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins one of the all time great NH jockeys Ruby Walsh has decided to stand down as stable jockey to Paul Nicholls stating that the constant travel from Ireland to England getting up at 4.50am and not returning home til 8.30pm and having very limited time to spend with his family has understandably started to become a drag for him toward the end of last season prompting him to focus solely on his career over in Ireland.

He will still ride when he is needed and is available for Paul Nicholls and I have no doubt we will still have the pleasure of seeing this master horseman riding plenty more big races on these shores in the future.

As for what my own personal highlight's would be of Ruby's years riding on the UK there are two quite magical days that would stand out. The 2009 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury when Denman who's career almost came to end a year before due had a heart condition returned to the scene of his brilliant 2007 success in the Hennessy to put up one of the all time great NH performance's to defy the welter burden of 11-12 giving lumps of weight to a high class field that included What A Friend who went on to win two Grade 1 races later in that season and also the 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition who was also left trailing well behind miles Denman as he put up a herculean effort to light up Newbury on this most memorable day.

The 2nd would be the 2011 Betfair Chase at Haydock when the great Kauto Star written off by many returned to his very best despite being at the age of 11 to avenge his Cheltenham Gold Cup defeat by Long Run with a breathtaking display of jumping that none of his high class rivals this day could match as he won this very prestigious race for the 4th time. Scenes of utter jubilation followed this emotional victory as he was led back to a packed winners enclosure.

After 11 memorable years of success at the highest level here in the UK all I can say is thank you for providing many memorable days at the racetrack not that will not be any more to come and who is to say we have seen the last of Ruby Walsh riding Cheltenham Gold Cup/Grand National winners over here while I have no doubt if he avoids injury's it will take a special effort to prevent any jockey in his native land of Ireland to prevent him becoming champion jockey in the Emerald Isle.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


IMPERIAL COMMANDER   12 11-10   Nigel Twiston-Davies    Sam Twiston-Davies
F/UR 1  Dist 3m2f110y

The 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner where he put up a brilliant performance to beat the mighty Denman. Also a former Paddy Power Gold Cup, Ryanair Chase and Betfair Chase winner. Only 4 runs since his Gold Cup win due to several injury setbacks but demonstrated that he retains plenty of his old ability when only just being touched off by Cape Tribulation in the Argento Chase in January.Entitled to come on from that run and although he missed the Gold Cup due to a infection he but could be thrown in here off a mark of 158 where he was rated as high as 185 at his peak and if anywhere near his best he will be the one to beat here.

WHAT A FRIEND                  10 11-9    Paul Nicholls                   Sam Thomas
F/UR 1 Dist 3m1f110y

Not far of the best chasers in the country a few seasons back. Duel grade 1 winning chaser thou has struggled slightly since finishing a excellent 4th in the 2011 Gold Cup. Ran in that seasons Grand National but was pulled up, possibly still feeling the effects of his exertions in the Gold Cup. Only one run this season when staying on to be 6th at Kempton. Wouldn't be out of it on his best form and does come here a fresh horse but comes here with a few questions marks over him

WEIRD AL                             10 11-8     Donald McCain             Timmy Murphy
F/UR 1 Dist 3m1f

High class chasers at his best but has been very inconsistent in recent seasons. The form of his 1st run of the season when only 7 lengths 4th behind the likes of Silviniaco Conti and Long Run would put him in with a shout here but pulled up on his two runs since and fell when beaten in this last year so very risky proposition here.

QUEL ESPRIT                        9 11-7       W P Mullins          
F/UR 2 Dist 3m

Classy Irish chaser who has a good strike rate over fences. Had jumping issues early in his career but they seem to have been ironed out now and he was the winner of  last seasons Irish Hennessy Gold Cup. Only one run so far this season when 4th in that same race he won last year and he did have some very high class opposition to contend with that day but the run should have bought him on nicely for this and Ireland leading trainer Willie Mullins wouldn't be sending him over to make up the numbers so a lively outsider.           

BIG FELLA THANKS            11 11-6      Tom George                  Denis O'Regan
F/UR 4 Dist 3m

Aintree specialist who will be running in his 4th Grand National. Missed the whole of last season through injury but has returned this season looking as good as ever and has already had a run over the National fences when 3rd in the Becher Chase in December. Has finished 6th,4th and 7th in his three runs in the National and has struggled to see out the trip on all three occasions and with 11-6 to carry this will be a big ask to improve on his previous attempts in the race but should still give his rider a great spin round and could still grab some minor place money.

ROBERTO GOLDBACK        11 11-6      Nicky Henderson           Barry Geraghty
F/UR 4 Dist 3m

Formally a very useful chaser in Ireland before being purchased by his new owner and transferred to Nicky Henderson's stable this season where on his 1st run he put up a impressive display to land a £100k chase at Ascot. Struggled since in heavy ground in the winter but ran much better at Kempton last time out and although there might be a question mark over his jumping if he take to the task here he has the ability to run a huge race here.

SEABASS                                 10 11-6      T M Walsh                     Ms K Walsh
F/UR 1 Dist 3m

Ran the race of his life to finish 3rd last season and was still upside when jumping the last after being towards the head of affairs from a long way out. Looked as good as ever this season in his two runs over in Ireland and although he has more weight to carry this year a reproduction of last years excellent run in the race would put him right in the mix again here.

BALLABRIGGS    c&d           12 11-4      Donald McCain              Jason Maguire
F/UR 1 Dist 4m4f

The 2011 Grand National hero and ran with great credit under a big weight to finish 6th last year. Will be running in his 3rd National this year and despite age he has showed plenty of zest in his three runs this season over inadequate trips. A big ask to expect him to win a 2nd Grand National at the age of 12 but more than capable of running into the first 6 again and comes from a stable who knows a thing or two about the Grand National.

SUNNYHILLBOY                   10 11-4      Jonjo O'Neill                 Richie McLernon
F/UR 1 Dist 3m1f110y

Came agonisingly close to winning last years Grand National when pipped on the post by Neptune Collonges. Tougher task this year with almost a stone more to carry and does not come into the race in the same kind of form as last year when he came into the race on the back of a victory at the Cheltenham Festival but really took to the challenge presented by the big fences last year and would be no surprise to see him return to his best here although its hard to see him improving on last years run with the extra weight he will be carrying.

TEAFORFREE                         9  11-3      Rebecca Curtis              Nick Schofield
F/UR 0 Dist 4m

Tough staying chaser who won the 4m NH chase at last years Cheltenham Festival. Excellent jumper and his best effort this season was when finishing 2nd giving plenty of weight to the lightly weighted Monbeg Dude under a inspired Paul Carberry ride in the Welsh National. Struggled around Haydock last time out but is easily forgiven for that effort as the sharp track there wouldn't this big bold jumping front runner and this Welsh trained 9 year old looks like a ideal type for this and must have a leading chance here.

ACROSS THE BAY                9  11-2      Donald McCain              Henry Brooke
F/UR 1 Dist 3m2f

Vastly improved chaser for Donald McCain this season under front running tactics winning under a big weight in heavy ground at Kelso then follwoing up when thrashing Cappa Bleu at Carlisle. Struggled under a big weight in the Welsh National but won his 3rd race of the season when reverting to hurdles at Haydock last time. A few have said he doesn't look the ideal type of horse for the race but entitled to take his chance after his excellent form in staying chases this season and could be in the shake up if he take it it but the big question is 'If he takes to it'.

JOIN TOGETHER                   8  11-2      Paul Nicholls                 Daryl Jacob
F/UR 1 Dist 3m1f110y

Useful novice last season and showed a liking for the Grand National course when a fast finishing 2nd to Hallo Bud in December. Can be forgiven for his latest effort at Doncaster when hampered early and losing all chance but form still a bit in and out and at the age of just 8 he may be one for another year but none the less respected as being in the care of Paul Nicholls last years winning trainer.

COLBERT STATION               9  11-1       T M Walsh                 AP McCoy
F/UR 0 Dist 3m

Lightly raced 9yo who was a impressive winner of the ultra competitive Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown in December. Also won his warn up race over hurdles for this and his trainer Ted Walsh wouldn't be sending him over unless he was confident of a big run thou his lack of experience is a worry.

FORPADYTHEPLASTERER   11 11-0      Thomas Cooper        Andrew J McNamara
F/UR 0 Dist 3m

One time high class 2m chaser and was a Arkle winner in his novice days. Sound jumper but very hard to see him having the stamina for this marathon trip and would have been better off running in the shorter Topham Chase over the National fences.

ON HIS OWN                            9 11-0        W P Mullins             Ruby Walsh
F/UR 1 Dist 3m1f

Lightly raced 9yo. Impressive winner of last years Thyestes Chase in Ireland and was travelling very well when coming to grief at Bechers 2nd time around in this last year. Only one run since when winning a grade 2 novice hurdle in good style but hasn't run over fences since last years Grand National which is a slight worry but none the less he could well be the best handicapped horse in the race and one of the leading contenders.

JONCOL                                    10 10-13     Paul Nolan              Robbie Power
F/UR 0 Dist 3m

Formally a top class grade 1 winning chaser in Ireland but has lost his way over the last 18 months. On his best form he would have a great chance here off 10-13 but hard to be enthusiastic about his chances after his recent performances.

BALTHAZAR KING                9  10-12      Philip Hobbs            Richard Johnson
F/UR 0 Dist 3m7f

Useful staying chaser who won a valuable handicap chase at Cheltenham on his seasonal debut in October and also a Cheltenham Festival winner taking last years 3m7f Cross Country Chase so stamina shouldn't be a problem here and with no jumping issues to worry about judging on past performances he could run a big race.

CAPPA BLEU                         11 10-11       Evan Williams        Paul Moloney
F/UR 1 Dist 3m2f110y

Lightly raced 11yo who perhaps has not achieved what he could have for a horse of his ability. 4th in last years Grand National and when coming from a long way behind after being hampered at the Canal Turn. Trained with this one race in mind this season and ran a very encouraging race at Ascot last time out and providing he does not get as far behind as last year there is every chance he can improve on last years 4th.

 OSCAR TIME                         12 10-11       M M Lynch              Mr S Waley-Cohen
  F/UR 2 Dist 3m

Runner up in this in 2011 and also runner up in the Irish National in the past so no doubt on the stamina front but missed last years race though injury and has showed very little so far this season Return to Aintree could well spark a revival but at the age of 12 its very hard to see him matching his 2011 effort and a place in the first six here would about the best he can hope for here

ALWAYS WAINING  cx3      12 10-10       Peter Bowen             Tom O'Brien
F/UR 1 Dist 3m110y

Aintree specialist and winner of the 2m5f110y Topham Chase over the big fences for the last three years. Shows very little at any other tracks so his recent form wouldn't be a concern and although he fully deserves a crack at the Grand National after his success at the track there must be a big doubt of him seeing out this marathon trip but if his stamina hold up he could be a big player

TATENEN                                9 10-10       Richard Rowe            Andrew Thornton
F/UR 3 Dist 2m5f110y

Unseated his rider in this last year and useful chaser especially at Ascot at around 2m4f but failed to see out 3m there in February and impossible to see him seeing out this marathon trip.               

TREACLE                                12 10-9       T J Taffe                     A E Lynch
F/UR 1 Dist 3m2f

Useful Irish staying chaser and comes here in good form after winning at Down Royal last time out. Fell in this last year which was his only fall during his career could well do better this time but hard to see him being involved at the business end of the race and a place in the 1st eight probably about the best he can hope for.

LOST GLORY                          8  10-8       Jonjo O'Neill              Mark Walsh
F/UR 0 Dist 3m2f

Not run since October when winning at Chepstow in October after a highly successful summer jumping campaign but this is a a huge step up in class. Comes from highly respected connections though so may well jump round in his own time.

SWING BILL                           12 10-8       David Pipe                Conor O'Farrell
F/UR 0 Dist 3m110y

Likes Aintree and good 4th here in December and 10th in last years National. Sound jumper and although hard to see him doing much better than last years finishing position he should show up for a circuit or so.

SAINT ARE                              7  10-8       Tim Vaughan          Dougie Costello
F/UR 2 Dist 3m1f

Winner at the Grand National meeting the last two years but will most likely be two inexperienced at the age of just 7 for a race like this but could be one for another year.

CHICAGO GREY                    10 10-7       Gordon Elliott
F/UR 3 Dist 4m

One of the better handicapped horse in the field with a lovely weight to race off and has demonstrated his stamina for a marathon trip after winning the 4m NH chase at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival. Back to form to win grade 2 over a trip way short of his best on his most recent start but has had a few jumping issues in the past and was bought down in this last year but if that hasn't left any mental scars he could be a huge player here.

QUISCOVER FONTAINE          9 10-7        W P Mullins           D J Casey
F/UR 2 Dist 2m3f120y

Fell in last years Grand National and has never won beyond 2m4f although was 4th in the Irish National a few years ago which gives some hope he could stay this marathon trip but that was two years ago and despite being in the care if Willie Mullins its hard to stake a case for him

BECAUSEICOULDNTSEE     10 10-6       N F Glynn                Martin Ferris
F/UR 3 Dist 2m6f

Has run well at the Cheltenham Festival in recent years but has fallen in the last two Grand Nationals and would take a leap of faith to expect him to be a big player here.

HARRY THE VIKING              8 10-6        Paul Nicholls          Ryan Mahon
F/UR 0 Dist 3m2f

Developed into a useful staying novice chaser last season with his best effort finishing 2nd to Teaforfree over 4m at the Cheltenham Festival but has shown very little from over the last 12 months and is passed over.

RARE BOB                               11 10-6       D T Hughes            Bryan Cooper
F/UR 1 Dist 3m1f

Bought down at the pile up at the 5th in this last year but has been running well and shaping like a step up to a marathon trip would suit in Ireland this season. Grade 1 winning novice in his younger days and still retains plenty of ability so could well put up a bold show and also has a jockey in the shape of Bryan Cooper who is at the top of his game in the saddle.

THE RAINBOW HUNTER      9 10-6        Kim Bailey            Aidan Coleman
F/UR 2 Dist 3m

Fair staying chaser who took a fair staying chase at Ascot last season and was 4th in a quality handicap chase at the same track last time out behind some classy opposition but one feels he falls below the standard needed for a race such as this.

MR MOONSHINE                    9 10-5        Sue Smith             Peter Buchanan
F/UR 0 Dist 3m2f

His form very in and out this season though his form where 2nd only receiving 5 pounds to Cape Tribulation who was 5th in the Gold Cup reads very well he has shown very little in his two runs since that excellent effort and he is readily passed over.

MUMBLES HEAD                  12 10-4       Peter Bowen         Jamie Moore
F/UR 1 Dist 3m3f

Perth specialist but fell at the 1st on his only attempt over the National fences and very unlikely to figure here.

AURORAS ENCORE              11 10-3       Sue Smith            Ryan Mania
F/UR 2 Dist 3m1f

Experienced chaser who ran the race of his life last April to only narrowly be denied victory in the Scottish Grand National. Has shown very little this season but his form took a major upturn at this time last year so wouldn't be total shock to see him run a big race but still needs a major revival.

NINETIETH MINUTE             10 10-3      T J Taffe               Niall P Madden
F/UR 2 Dist 2m6f110y

One time very useful hurdler and hasn't performed badly since switched to the bigger obstacles and has the assistance of Grand National winning jockey Niall Madden in the saddle but is more than likely biting off more than he can chew here and very much looks the stables 2nd string.

TARQUINIUS                          10 10-2      Gordon Elliott       Wilson Renwick
F/UR 0 Dist 3m

Vastly improved chaser since being switched to leading Irish trainer Gordon Elliott this season winning three handicap chases and came very close to landing the prestigious Thyestes Chase at Gowan Park back in January. All his best form in heavy ground though and will most likely find things happening too quick for him here.

ANY CURRENCY                   10 10-0      Martin Keighley
F/UR 1 Dist 3m3f110y

Some good bits of form over the years. Good 3rd behind Tidal Bay in the Bet365 Gold Cup last year. 4th in a quality handicap at Cheltenham in November but form very in and out and not the profile you would be looking for in a National winner.

MAJOR MALARKEY              10 9-13    Nigel Twiston-Davies
F/UR 2 Dist 3m110y

Very in and out his form in recent seasons and although does have ability that he showed when narrowly failing to land the Midland National last year has done nothing of late to suggest he can have a say in a race as competitive as this.

BACKSTAGE                           11 9-12     Gordon Elliott
F/UR 1 Dist 3m1f110y

Multiple winner in point to points over in Ireland and has ran respectably in this in both 2010 and 2011 and no reason why he wont give his jockey a great spin round but unlikely he will be be anywhere near the prize money.

SOLL                                         8  9-12      Jo Hughes                   Mark Grant
F/UR 0 Dist 3m110y

Showed useful form in Ireland for Willie Mullins last season before being sold and transferred to be trained in England. Ran respectively in a very high class Hennessy Gold Cup to finish 8th 33 lengths behind Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth. Struggled in the Welsh National but looked good when making all to plough through desperate ground at Sandown last time out and is definitely one of the more interesting outsiders who looks a National type.



Monday, 1 April 2013

Recent Grand National winners.

There is only 5 days to go before what is in my opinion the worlds greatest horse race the 2013 running of the Grand National and later in the week I will go through all 40 runners for this years race but today I am going to take a look at recent winners of the race that will hopefully give you a good idea of the type of horse you are looking for when it comes picking a horse for the race.

I certainly cannot give you the winner but what this look at previous winners will do is by looking at what quality's you need to look for in a Grand National horse and that after reading this you can discard thous horses that don't look suitable for the race and hopefully narrow the field down to more realistic number of contenders.

2012 NEPTUNE COLLONGES 11yo 11st 6pds
The grey Neptune Collonges was running in his final race when winning last year's National and he had demonstrated on his previous start when staying to finish a close 2nd carrying top weight in a high class handicap over 3m4f that the this trip had the potential to bring out the best of him. He was also 6th when giving 2 stone to almost the entire field in the previous years Scottish National over 4m1f giving further evidence to the bottomless stamina needed for the Grand National.
A very assured jumper with plenty of experience which stood him on good steed when having horses fall in front of him he was also good enough at his peak to finish 3rd and 4th in Cheltenham Gold Cup as well as win 3 grade 1 chases in Ireland. Despite his big weight he was thrown in on his best form and gained a memorable victory when nailing Sunnyhillboy right on the line.

2011 BALLABRIGGS 10yo 11st
Trained by the son of the great Red Rum's trainer Ginger McCain his son Donald McCain continued the family's great tradition with the race with Ballabriggs who took the modern Grand National preparation of running over hurdles until the weights came out before a warm up over fences before the big day. This was Ballabriggs first attempt at a marathon trip but during the previous season produced a strong staying performance to win the 3m1f110y Kim Muir Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He also had a faultless jumping record never falling or even unseating and at the age of 10 with plenty of experience behind him he looked a ideal type of the race.

2010 DON'T PUSH IT 10yo 11st 5pds
AP McCoy finally broke his Grand National duck on this JP McManus owned 10yo who despite showing high class form in his younger years over shorter trips he had his jumping issues and wasn't until the 12 months before the race that his jumping finally came together with a success over the Mildmay course on Grand National day in a competitive handicap chase. Earlier in the season he was 2nd in very soft ground when carrying a big weight in a classy 3m3f110y handicap chase at Cheltenham to indicate that the 4m4f trip could be within his range and he defied a weight that had not been carried to victory in the weight for many years to land a monumental gamble and help AP McCoy to becoming 2010 sports personality of the year.

2009 MON MOME 9yo 11st
The biggest price winner since Foinavon in 1967 Mon Mome was sent of a unconsidered 100-1 shot after a couple of very disappointing efforts but despite his long odds he had showed plenty of sighs in the past that the Aintree marathon could bring out the best in him as in many of his previous races he was staying on strongly at the end of the high class races over trips to short for him. He has a taster of the Grand National in the previous year finishing down the field but 8 year olds have always struggled in the race but this experience obviously didn't do him no harm as he romped home to win by 12 lengths from Comply Or Die the previous years winner.

2008 COMPLY OR DIE  9yo 10st 9pds
Comply Or Die had a perfect profile for the race showing useful form as a novice before missing a season but returning to the track as good as ever in his Grand National winning season by landing the gruelling 4m1f Eider Chase and with no jumping issues to worry about he was a no brainer when it came to finding a horse with a profile fit for the race and he duly obliged with a impressive victory giving trainer David Pipe jockey Timmy Murphy and owner David Johnson there 1st win in the race.

2007 SILVER BIRCH 10yo 10st 6pds
Paul Nicholls must still be kicking himself as this was the one that got away. Silver Birch looked set to go into the 2005 Grand National as favourite after winning both the Becher Chase at the course and also the Welsh National before injury ruled him out of the race. When he returned to fitness the following season he failed to show the same sparkle as in the previous season and although he did make it to Aintree but got no further than the chair and after this he was sold for just 20,000 guineas and was transferred to Gordon Elliott's stable in Ireland. The following season after finishing 2nd in the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival he was sent off at 33-1 for his 2nd crack and despite his long odds he ticked many of the boxes you would want for a potential Grand National and this time he finally fulfilled his early promise and in the process gave his trainer Gordon Elliott the Honor of being the youngest Grand National winning trainer.

2006 NUMBERSIXVALVERDE 10yo 10st 8pds
The previous seasons Irish Grand National winner had cast iron credentials going into the race after with a light weigh and jumping assured and despite the monumental effort of the previous years winner Hedgehunter giving 18 pounds to this stamina laden Irish challenger he could not repel Numbersisvalverde who also gave his jockey Niall Madden a win in the race at his very 1st attempt.

2005 HEDGEHUNTER 9yo 11st 1pds
Hedgehunter became the 1st horse since 1988 to carry in excess of 11 stone to victory and done so in very impressive style with Ruby Walsh clear after the last still on the bridle. He had demonstrated his stamina well before his Grand National winning season with a victory over 3m4f at Punchestown and also winning the previous seasons Thyestes Chase. He had run in the previous years race when taking a tired fall at the last but would have certainly been in the first 4 if not coming to grief. Hedgehunter would go onto finish 2nd the following year and then run in both the 2007,08 Nationals as well cementing his place as one of the most successful Grand National horses since the days of Red Rum.

2004 AMBERLEIGH HOUSE 12yo 10st 10pds
Trained by the legendry Donald McCain Amberleigh House recorded a emotional victory and giving Red Rums late trainer a 4th win in the race. This would be the horses 3rd run in the race, he was 3rd the previous year and bought down in the race in 2001. He was also a previous winner over the big fences winning the Becher Chase in 2002 and only just being touched off in the same race in 2003 he was a real Aintree specialist and like Red Rum in his later years he showed very little form at other tracks but come the 2004 Grand National his form around the track was there for all to see and just demonstrated how important previous form over the big fences is.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Prince De Beauchane ruled out of Grand National

Leading Grand National fancy Prince De Beauchene was last night ruled out of the race for the 2nd year running due to injury along with 2011 Scottish Grand Nationall winner Beshabar who was also confirmed a non runner owing to injury but on the plus side Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins has confirmed that his 2012 Irish Hennessy Gold Cup winner Quel Esprit is a intended runner and its also looking increasingly likely that top weight Imperial Commander the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner will line up next Saturday for the worlds greatest steeplechase.

On His Own is now a clear 7-1 favourite with Ladbrokes going as short as 6-1 which for a race like the Grand National doesn't look tremendous value for a race with 40 runners but he may well be the one blot in the handicap with Willie Mullins suggesting that On His Own may well be a better horse than his previous winner Hedgehunter who was also a Gold Cup runner up and lets not forget he was travelling very well when coming to grief at Bechers Brook last year but he hasn't run over fences since last years race and even though won his prep race over hurdles and looking very good in the process this was his only outing this season I feel all the value has been squeezed out of his odds.

Ever since the weights where released I have strongly fancied Imperial Commander and despite now having to carry top weight if given the green light to take his chance he is set to race from handicap mark of 158 while he was rated 185 after his Gold Cup victory and judging by his excellent comeback after a near 2 year lay off  he certainly still looks like a better horse than the 158 rating he is due to race off here and he looks a ideal type of the demands of the Grand National and he must have a great chance of making history in becoming only the 3rd horse to have won both the Gold Cup and Grand National.

Katie Walsh has been confirmed to ride Seabass who was 3rd in last years race and although having to carry 11-6 this years race doesn't appear to be quite as strong as last years renewal and there is no reason why judging on his 2 runs this season that he will not match if not better last years performance in the race.

There is a strong Welsh challenge for this years race despite the absence of Beshabar with last years 4th Cappa Bleu who ran a cracking race at Ascot last time out carrying top weight to finish 2nd giving 10 pounds to the progressive Vino Griego who franked the form at the Cheltenham Festival and if given a more positive ride than he recived in last years National then this lightly raced but very talented 11 year old may well improve on last years 4th. Teaforfree is the other big Welsh hope hailing from the very progressive Rebecca Curtis stable and despite finishing down the field at Haydock last time out the tight track there wouldn't have played to this big bold jumping galloper and with his stamina proven for a marathon trip with his victory over 4m at last years Cheltenham Festival he ticks all the right boxes for a potential Grand National contender.

I am going to stick my neck out and select Imperial Commander as my number one hope for the race with his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davis already have saddled two Grand National winners and I'm sure there would be no more popular winner than this 12yo former Gold Cup hero.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

57 left in the Grand National

Only 57 remain in the Grand National after several notable defections at the latest forfeit stage for the worlds greatest steeplechase to be staged at Aintree on April 6th. The weights will rise by at least 4 pounds after the original top weight Tidal Bay was pulled out due to injury last month and now both Albertas Run and Quito De La Roque also being withdrawn after today's forfeit stage leaving 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander heading the 57 horses still engaged for the race.

Looking at the weights after today forfeit stage On His Own who was tanking along when falling at Bechers Brook 2nd time around last year and on his only start since won a grade 2 novice hurdle looking as good if not better than ever in the process looks very favourably weighted off 11-0 and with the strong possibility of Ruby Walsh taking the ride this Willie Mullins trained 9yo gelding looks like the best treated horse in the race especially after his trainer stated he believes he is  better horse than his previous Grand National winner Hedgehunter. His stablemate Prince De Beauchene who missed last years race also has leading claims but off 11-7 he has a big task on his hands here despite running a fine warm up race at Fairyhouse to finish 2nd to Roi Du Mee and having last years Grand National 3rd who he is set to repose here Seabass back in 3rd that day. Seabass is due to carry just 1 pound less than Prince Du Beauchene here but I would be confident of him turning the tables from that race at Fairyhouse race after running such a fine race in 3rd last year but off 11-6 here he will need to have improved a fair bit since last year to go two places better come April 6th. Imperial Commander is one horse who's big weight would not concern if he is anywhere near the form of his 2010 Gold Cup success and if allowed to take his chance here I can see him relishing the challenge the Grand National presents and I would rate both him and On His Own as the most likely winners at this stage.