FAVOURITE SEABASS GIVEN 11st 2lb IN 2013 JOHN SMITH’S GRAND NATIONAL
The Ted Walsh-trained Seabass, who finished third in last year’s John Smith’s Grand National, has been allotted 11lb 2lb in the 166th running of the great chase, for which the weights are unveiled this morning.
Betfred, betting partner at the John Smith’s Grand National meeting, make Seabass – who carried 10st 12lb in 2012 – one of their 14/1 co-favourites to go two places better this year and Walsh reports the 10-year-old to be bang on course for the £975,000 John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday,April 6.
“Seabass will run somewhere in the next three weeks to a month. There is just over seven weeks toLiverpool so I would like to get a run into him. The Bobbyjo Chase at Naas and the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton are possible targets,” said Walsh.
But, speaking before seeing the full weights, he added: “I don’t know how Seabass can get over 11st this year if Tidal Bay is rated 171 and my horse is rated 154. Whatever Phil Smith does, he does – it is immaterial to me and I can’t change it. You don’t have to be a great mathematician to subtract 54 from 71.”
The weights for Jump racing’s most famous prize were announced at the John Smith’s Grand National Launch in London today. It is the only race for which the weights are specifically framed by the British Horseracing Authority’s Head of Handicapping, Phil Smith.
This year’s weights are headed on 11st 10lb (rated 162) by the mercurial but hugely-talented Tidal Bay(16/1), who boasts three wins over hurdles and fences at Aintree. After saddling 52 beaten horses in the John Smith’s Grand National, Tidal Bay’s handler Paul Nicholls finally saw his luck change last year when Neptune Collonges prevailed.
The champion trainer is also represented by Join Together (10st 12lb, 20/1), who has not been seen since finishing runner-up in the Betfred Becher Chase at Aintree on December 8, and a pair part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson – 2010 Betfred Bowl winner What A Friend (11st 5lb, 33/1) and Harry The Viking (10st 2lb, 25/1).
Tidal Bay’s owners, Andrea and Graham Wylie, boast an enviable hand this year and account for Betfred’s two other 14/1 co-favourites with Seabass. On His Own (10st 10lb) and Prince De Beauchene (11st 3lb) are among seven entries bidding to give Willie Mullins, successful with Hedgehunter in 2005, a second John Smith’s Grand National victory.
A strong Irish-trained entry of 31 includes another top contender from Ted Walsh’s stable in J PMcManus’s Colbert Station (10st 11lb, 20/1), winner of the Paddy Power Handicap Chase over three miles at Leopardstown on December 27 and the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle qualifier at Punchestown
on February 3.
“Like Seabass, Colbert Station will possibly have one more run. I have no idea where he will go at this stage as he only recently ran. I would also be looking at running him in three weeks to a month’s time, which will be ideal timing for the National.”
Nearly all of Colbert Stations’s races have come on soft or heavy ground but this does not concern Walsh: “I wouldn’t be worried about the ground for Colbert Station as it is never anything worse than good jumping ground at Aintree. “He has 10st 6lb in the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton and is 3lb higher in England than he is in Ireland, which makes him worse off with Seabass in England.”
Walsh’s daughter Katie achieved the highest-ever John Smith’s Grand National placing for a female rider when third last year on Seabass, while McManus’s retained jockey Tony McCoy has been aboard Colbert Station for his two recent successes. But Walsh, also father of Ruby, stated that there is plenty of time to decide who will ride his duo.
“The question of who will ride both horses is the least of my worries at the moment. My only worry is thetwo horses arrive at Liverpool in good form, healthy and well,” added the trainer. “Who rides them is a question for another day. I am not even thinking about it and there is no pressure on anybody.
“Nobody has to make their mind up until I have to declare for the race – I don’t need to know if Tony McCoy is available or Ruby Walsh is available until they make their minds up and at the declaration stage will do for me.”
Ballabriggs, who won the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National off 11 stone, has been allotted the same weight again this year, having finished sixth under 11st 9lb in 2012. Trainer Donald McCain is happy with the weight given to the 33/1 chance.
“That weight is fine for Ballabriggs and it will be grand if the top horse (Tidal Bay) runs because then wewill have a lovely racing weight,” said McCain. “He has come out of his race at Warwick OK. He will go to Kelso for the Premier Chase as he has done for the past two years and then on to Aintree.”
There has been only one Welsh-trained Grand National winner, Kirkland in 1905, but the principality could field a formidable team this year with eight entries. Leading contenders include Welsh National runner-up Teaforthree (10st 13lb, 20/1), based in Pembrokeshire with Rebecca Curtis, and last year’s fourth, Cappa Bleu (10st 7lb, 25/1), whose trainer Evan Williams has had a runner reach the frame in the last four renewals.
The three-time John Smith’s Topham Chase winner Always Waining (10st 6lb, 50/1) could step up in trip for Peter Bowen, while Tim Vaughan’s 2011 Scottish Grand National winner Beshabar (20/1) has 1lb less on 10st 5lb.
The John Smith’s Grand National now regularly attracts some of the best chasers in training and among those engaged this year are the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander (33/1), who has 11st 6lb, and Albertas Run (11st 8lb, 33/1), winner of the 2010 Grade One John Smith’s Melling Chase at Aintree and two Ryanair Chases at Cheltenham.
The Colm Murphy-trained Quito De La Roque (40/1), who bounced back to form when winning the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles last month, has 11st 5lb.
There is one entry based in France, the Yann Porzier-trained Odysseas, but the 100/1 shot is not certain to make the final line-up with a weight of 9st 3lb. Last year the 72nd horse in the weights at the time of the Launch was the lowest-weighted horse to make the line-up, which would equate to a weight of 9st 8lb this year.
John Baker, Regional Director North West of Jockey Club Racecourses, commented: “The countdown really gets underway today to what promises to be both an ultra-competitive and high-class renewal of the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, April 6.
“Alongside the Aintree specialists and winners of many of the top staying handicaps, we also have some of the top chasers in training engaged, including a Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup victor.
“Irish raiders have won six of the last 14 renewals and there is a particularly strong entry from Ireland that could enhance that record this year while there looks a real chance of a first Welsh-trained winner since 1905.”
LATEST ODDS FROM BETFRED -
OFFICIAL BETTING PARTNER OF THE 2013 JOHN SMITH’S GRAND NATIONAL
14/1 On His Own, Prince De Beauchene, Seabass; 16/1 Tidal Bay; 20/1 Beshabar, Colbert Station, Join Together, Roi Du Mee,
Sunnyhillboy, Teaforthree; 25/1 Cappa Bleu, Harry The Viking, Katenko, Magnanimity, The Package; 33/1 Across The Bay,
Albertas Run, Alfie Sherrin, Ballabriggs, Balthazar King, Big Fella Thanks, Bostons Angel, Frisco Depot, Imperial Commander,
Lambro, Lion Na Bearnai, Oscar Time, Outlaw Pete, Roberto Goldback, Romanesco, Saint Are, Tofino Bay, Weird Al, What
A Friend, Wyck Hill; 40/1 Call The Police, Chicago Grey, Jessies Dream, Lost Glory, Mister Hyde, Planet of Sound, Quel Esprit,
Quiscover Fontaine, Quito de La Roque, Tarquinius; 50/1 Always Waining, Any Currency, Auroras Encore,
Becauseicouldntsee, Bob Lingo, Forpadydeplasterer, Joncol, Little Josh, Ninetieth Minute, Pandorama, Problema Tic, Quinz,
Rare Bob, Swing Bill, Tartak, The Rainbow Hunter, Treacle; 66/1 Backstage, Calgary Bay, Cloudy Lane, Cross Appeal,
Midnight Chase, Mr Moonshine, Pearlysteps, Poker De Sivola, Shakervilz, Soll, Summery Justice, Viking Blond; 100/1 Fabalu,
Gullible Gordon, Major Malarkey, Matuhi, Mortimers Cross, Mumbles Head, Odysseas, Pentiffic, Tatenen
¼ 1-2-3-4 – All Quoted
Irish-trained winner 6/4
Willie Mullins-trained winner 4/1
Graham & Andrea Wylie-owned winner 5/1
Paul Nicholls-trained winner 6/1
Female Jockey-ridden winner 10/1
Tony Mccoy-ridden winner 12/1
Ruby Walsh-ridden winner 12/1
Barry Geraghty-ridden winner 14/1
Donald McCain-trained winner 14/1
THE 2013 JOHN SMITH’S GRAND NATIONAL
Class 1, Grade 3, £975,000 total prize fund. 4.15pm, Aintree, Saturday, April 6, 2013, about four miles, three and a half furlongs. For seven-year-olds and upwards who, up to and including March 18, 2013, have been placed first, second, third or fourth in a chase of three miles or more and which are allotted a rating of 120 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 10, 2013.
Horses who are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at closing may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible for a weight providing the handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances up to and including February 10 would merit a minimum rating of 120. To qualify, horses must have run at least three times in chases run under the Rules of Racing of the same Recognised Racing Authority up to and including February 10, 2013. At the handicapper’s discretion, such horses may be allocated a rating. The decision of the BHA Head of Handicapping shall be final.
The British Horseracing Authority has modified Rule (F)42.2.1 for the purposes of this race, such that racecourse performances up to and including
Sunday, February 12, may be taken into account. A novice horse shall only be qualified to run in this race if it has run a minimum of three times in chases in Great Britain, Ireland or France in accordance with Rule (F)42.5. Highest weight 11st 10lb - no penalties after publication of the weights. Entries closed January 29, entries revealed January 30 (84 entries, 1 subsequently scratched before publication of the weights), weights revealed February 12, first scratchings’ deadline February 26, second scratchings’ deadline March 19. Five-day confirmation stage April 1, final declaration stage 10.00am, April 4. Maximum field size of 40, plus four reserves. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the
racing of Sunday, February 10.
Form Horse Age/Wgt Owner Trainer
1) 541-121 TIDAL BAY (IRE) 12-11-10 Andrea & Graham Wylie Paul Nicholls
2) P12/123- ALBERTAS RUN (IRE) 12-11-08 Trevor Hemmings Jonjo O’Neill
3) 51U/1P/-2 IMPERIAL COMMANDER (IRE) 12-11-06 Our Friends in the North Nigel Twiston-Davies
4) 13-3361 QUITO DE LA ROQUE (FR) 9-11-05 Gigginstown House Stud Colm Murphy IRE
5) 4P/33F0- WHAT A FRIEND 10-11-05 Ged Mason & Sir Alex Ferguson Paul Nicholls
6) 4-F0211 KATENKO (FR) 7-11-04 Andrew Brooks Venetia Williams
7) 13PF-4PP WEIRD AL (IRE) 10-11-04 Brannon Dick Holden Donald McCain
8) 351/51-1 PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE (FR) 10-11-03 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
9) F1113-04 QUEL ESPRIT (FR) 9-11-03 Red Barn Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
10) 440/-U31 BIG FELLA THANKS 11-11-02 Crossed Fingers Partnership Tom George
11) 000-1U35 ROBERTO GOLDBACK (IRE) 11-11-02 Simon Munir Nicky Henderson
12) 1//11113-2 SEABASS (IRE) 10-11-02 Gunners Syndicate Ted Walsh IRE
13) 5110-P4 CALGARY BAY (IRE) 10-11-01 Camilla Radford Mick Channon
14) 234-F211 CALL THE POLICE (IRE) 10-11-01 DD Racing Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
15) 11/P10/-0 PANDORAMA (IRE) 10-11-01 Robert Bagnall Noel Meade IRE
16) 511112 ROI DU MEE (FR) 8-11-01 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
17) 121/46-P0 BALLABRIGGS (IRE) 12-11-00 Trevor Hemmings Donald McCain
18) 310-3P4 MIDNIGHT CHASE 11-11-00 Lady Clarke Neil Mulholland
19) P012-5P SUNNYHILLBOY (IRE) 10-11-00 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
20) P11-062 TEAFORTHREE (IRE) 9-10-13 T437 Rebecca Curtis
21) P3-1120 ACROSS THE BAY (IRE) 9-10-12 Scotch Piper Syndicate Donald McCain
22) 11P3-02 JOIN TOGETHER (IRE) 8-10-12 Ian Fogg & Paul Barber Paul Nicholls
23) 5/230-53 PLANET OF SOUND 11-10-12 Charles Lloyd-Baker Philip Hobbs
24) 0511306 BOB LINGO (IRE) 11-10-11 J P McManus Tom Mullins IRE
25) 413-5211 COLBERT STATION (IRE) 9-10-11 J P McManus Ted Walsh IRE
26) 6P00-1FP LITTLE JOSH (IRE) 11-10-11 Tony Bloom Nigel Twiston-Davies
27) 1-12141 TOFINO BAY (IRE) 10-10-11 Gigginstown House Stud Dessie Hughes IRE
28) 64-2P153 FORPADYDEPLASTERER (IRE) 11-10-10 Goat Racing Syndicate Thomas Cooper IRE
29) 4P1/B1F- ON HIS OWN (IRE) 9-10-10 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
30) 20-35233 JONCOL (IRE) 10-10-09 Kay Browne Paul Nolan IRE
31) 10511-P LION NA BEARNAI (IRE) 11-10-09 The Lock Syndicate Tom Gibney IRE
32) P0F1-12 BALTHAZAR KING (IRE) 9-10-08 The Brushmakers Philip Hobbs
33) 5/5/4-14P THE PACKAGE 10-10-08 David Johnson David Pipe
34) P-06F226 BOSTONS ANGEL (IRE) 9-10-07 Elder Scouller Jessica Harrington IRE
35) P//1334-2 CAPPA BLEU (IRE) 11-10-07 William & Angela Rucker Evan Williams
36) 632/4-4U OSCAR TIME (IRE) 12-10-07 Robert Waley-Cohen/Sir Martin & Steve Broughton Martin Lynch IRE
37) 044001- ALWAYS WAINING (IRE) 12-10-06 Mr & Mrs Peter Douglas Peter Bowen
38) 01236-14 LAMBRO (IRE) 8-10-06 Byerley Thoroughbred Racing Willie Mullins IRE
39) 131P/PP- QUINZ (FR) 9-10-06 Andrew Cohen Philip Hobbs
40) 0/015U-6 TATENEN (FR) 9-10-06 The Stewart Family Richard Rowe
41) 1/U121/5- BESHABAR (IRE) 11-10-05 Middleham Park Racing X & Ann Burrows Tim Vaughan
42) 30/1122/- JESSIES DREAM (IRE) 10-10-05 David Johnson Gordon Elliott IRE
43) 51423F- TREACLE (IRE) 12-10-05 Bjorn Nielsen Tom Taaffe IRE
44) 011611 LOST GLORY (NZ) 8-10-04 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
45) 1211-5F PROBLEMA TIC (FR) 7-10-04 Jo Tracey David Pipe
46) 4U01-F4 SAINT ARE (FR) 7-10-04 David Fox Tim Vaughan
47) 00P-P14 SWING BILL (FR) 12-10-04 David Johnson David Pipe
48) 11F2-11 WYCK HILL (IRE) 9-10-04 SAB Partnership David Bridgwater
49) 2B-0U63 CHICAGO GREY (IRE) 10-10-03 John Earls Gordon Elliott IRE
50) PP-52202 MAGNANIMITY (IRE) 9-10-03 Gigginstown House Stud Dessie Hughes IRE
51) 4010F-60 QUISCOVER FONTAINE (FR) 9-10-03 J P McManus Willie Mullins IRE
52) 2F-63PP BECAUSEICOULDNTSEE (IRE) 10-10-02 Noel Glynn Noel Glynn IRE
53) 21B-4FP FRISCO DEPOT 9-10-02 Waley-Cohen, Burke, Broughton, Broughton Charlie Longsdon
54) 112P-P0 HARRY THE VIKING 8-10-02 Sir Alex Ferguson, Ged Mason, R Wood & P Done Paul Nicholls
55) 053B0-6 RARE BOB (IRE) 11-10-02 D A Syndicate Dessie Hughes IRE
56) 04-311P THE RAINBOW HUNTER 9-10-02 May We Never Be Found Out Partnership Kim Bailey
57) 0-23602 MR MOONSHINE (IRE) 9-10-01 Sue Smith Sue Smith
58) 1133FP MUMBLES HEAD (IRE) 12-10-00 Karen Bowen Peter Bowen
59) 30/F2PP-4 PEARLYSTEPS 10-10-00 The Glazeley Partnership Henry Daly
60) 2-U0P45 AURORAS ENCORE (IRE) 11-9-13 D Pryde, J Beaumont & D P van der Hoeven Sue Smith
61) 1F-3F604 NINETIETH MINUTE (IRE) 10-9-13 Dermot Cox Tom Taaffe IRE
62) 0513-30 ALFIE SHERRIN 10-9-12 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
63) 1P1142 TARQUINIUS (FR) 10-9-12 Mary Furlong Gordon Elliott IRE
64) 030U-06 MATUHI 10-9-11 Willsford Racing Incorporated David Pipe
65) 04-13116 MISTER HYDE (IRE) 8-9-11 Bensaranat Club & Bill McLuskey Jonjo O’Neill
66) 3-614U4 ANY CURRENCY (IRE) 10-9-10 Cash Is King Martin Keighley
67) 1P-4PP0 CROSS APPEAL (IRE) 7-9-10 John Corr Noel Meade IRE
68) 50-6440 TARTAK (FR) 10-9-10 Power Panels Electrical Systems Ltd Tim Vaughan
69) 4P2P-26 MAJOR MALARKEY (IRE) 10-9-09 Baker, Dodd & Cooke Nigel Twiston-Davies
70) (0)6U1/-50 POKER DE SIVOLA (FR) 10-9-09 David Johnson Ferdy Murphy
71) 1P/1/401-3 SUMMERY JUSTICE (IRE) 9-9-09 Mrs H Brown Venetia Williams
72) P/5000/P- BACKSTAGE (FR) 11-9-08 MPR & Capranny Syndicate Gordon Elliott IRE
73) 1/21B-00 SOLL 8-9-08 Derrick Mossop Jo Hughes
74) U1F1020 ROMANESCO (FR) 8-9-07 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
75) 0-121365 SHAKERVILZ (FR) 10-9-07 Wicklow Bloodstock Limited Willie Mullins IRE
76) FP-023P2 VIKING BLOND (FR) 8-9-07 Caroline Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies
77) 40//2161-3 CLOUDY LANE 13-9-06 Trevor Hemmings Donald McCain
78) 05r316 OUTLAW PETE (IRE) 9-9-06 J P McManus John Halley IRE
79) 120-25F FABALU (IRE) 11-9-05 Tim Leslie Donald McCain
80) 0-000165 PENTIFFIC (NZ) 10-9-04 P Sinn, P Lawrence, L Sutcliffe, M Smith Venetia Williams
81) 33F425 ODYSSEAS (FR) 10-9-03 Mrs Jean Porzier Yann Porzier FR
82) 0/44-060 GULLIBLE GORDON (IRE) 10-9-02 Yeh Man Partnership Peter Bowen
83) 1P-2215 MORTIMERS CROSS 12-9-02 John Needham John Needham
SCRATCHED: ORGANISEDCONFUSION (IRE)
JOHN SMITH’S GRAND NATIONAL WEIGHTS -
COMPARISON WITH 2012
(at time of weights’ announcement)
Horse Age 2013 2012 Current Trainer
BALLABRIGGS 12 11-00 11-09 Donald McCain
MIDNIGHT CHASE 11 11-00 11-08 Neil Mullholland
WEIRD AL 10 11-04 11-08 Donald McCain
QUEL ESPRIT 9 11-03 11-07 Willie Mullins IRE
CALGARY BAY 10 11-01 11-06 Mick Channon
PLANET OF SOUND 11 10-12 11-05 Philip Hobbs
ROBERTO GOLDBACK 11 11-02 11-04 Nicky Henderson
TARTAK 10 9-10 11-02 Tim Vaughan
LITTLE JOSH 11 10-11 11-01 Nigel Twiston-Davies
CHICAGO GREY 10 10-03 10-13 Gordon Elliott IRE
TATENEN 9 10-06 10-13 Richard Rowe
SEABASS 10 11-02 10-12 Ted Walsh IRE
ON HIS OWN 9 10-10 10-11 Willie Mullins IRE
CAPPA BLEU 11 10-07 10-10 Evan Williams
RARE BOB 11 10-02 10-09 Dessie Hughes IRE
TREACLE 12 10-05 10-08 Tom Taaffe IRE
PEARLYSTEPS 10 10-00 10-06 Henry Daly
PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE 10 11-03 10-06 Willie Mullins IRE
SUNNYHILLBOY 10 11-00 10-05 Jonjo O’Neill
QUISCOVER FONTAINE 9 10-03 10-04 Willie Mullins IRE
ALWAYS WAINING 12 10-06 10-03 Peter Bowen
BECAUSEICOULDNTSEE 10 10-02 10-03 Noel Glynn IRE
SWING BILL 12 10-04 10-03 David Pipe
SHAKERVILZ 10 9-07 10-02 Willie Mullins IRE
THE PACKAGE 10 10-08 10-02 David Pipe
BACKSTAGE 11 9-08 10-01 Gordon Elliott IRE
VIKING BLOND 8 9-07 10-00 Nigel Twiston-Davies
ANY CURRENCY 10 9-10 9-08 Martin Keighley
BREAKDOWN OF ENTRIES BY TRAINER WITH PAST SUCCESSES IN THE JOHN SMITH’S
Willie Mullins IRE (2005
Prince de Beauchene 11-03
Quel Esprit 11-03
Call The Police 11-01
On His Own 10-10
Quiscover Fontaine 10-03
Gordon Elliott IRE (2007 Silver
Roi du Mee 11-01
Jessies Dream 10-05
Chicago Grey 10-03
Donald McCain (2011 Ballabriggs)
Weird Al 11-04
Across The Bay 10-12
Cloudy Lane 9-06
Jonjo O’Neill (2010 Don’t Push It)
Albertas Run 11-08
Lost Glory 10-04
Alfie Sherrin 9-12
Mister Hyde 9-11
Paul Nicholls (2012 Neptune
Tidal Bay 11-10
What A Friend 11-05
Join Together 10-12
Harry The Viking 10-02
David Pipe (2008 Comply Or Die)
The Package 10-08
Problema Tic 10-04
Swing Bill 10-04
Nigel Twiston-Davies (2002
Bindaree, 1998 Earth Summit)
Imperial Commander 11-06
Little Josh 10-11
Major Malarkey 9-09
Viking Blond 9-07
Always Waining 10-06
Mumbles Head 10-00
Gullible Gordon 9-02
Planet of Sound 10-12
Balthazar King 10-08
Dessie Hughes IRE
Tofino Bay 10-11
Rare Bob 10-02
Saint Are 10-04
Venetia Williams (2009 Mon Mome)
Summery Justice 9-09
Noel Meade IRE
Cross Appeal 9-10
Mr Moonshine 10-01
Auroras Encore 9-13
Tom Taaffe IRE
Ninetieth Minute 9-13
Ted Walsh IRE (2000 Papillon)
Colbert Station 10-11
Kim Bailey (1990 Mr Frisk)
The Rainbow Hunter 10-02
Wyck Hill 10-04
Calgary Bay 11-01
Tom Cooper IRE
Big Fella Thanks 11-02
Tom Gibney IRE
Lion Na Bearnai 10-09
Noel Glynn IRE
John Halley IRE
Outlaw Pete 9-06
Jessica Harrington IRE
Bostons Angel 10-07
Roberto Goldback 11-02
Any Currency 9-10
Frisco Depot 10-02
Martin Lynch IRE
Oscar Time 10-07
Midnight Chase 11-00
Tom Mullins IRE
Bob Lingo 10-11
Poker de Sivola 9-09
Colm Murphy IRE
Quito de La Roque 11-05
Mortimers Cross 9-02
Paul Nolan IRE
Yann Porzier FR
Cappa Bleu 10-07
BREAKDOWN BY SELECTED OWNER WITH PAST
SUCCESSES IN THE JOHN SMITH’S GRAND NATIONAL
J P McManus (2010 Don’t Push It)
Bob Lingo 10-11
Colbert Station 10-11
Lost Glory 10-04
Quiscover Fontaine 10-03
Alfie Sherrin 9-12
Outlaw Pete 9-06
Gigginstown House Stud (Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair)
Quito de La Roque 11-05
Roi du Mee 11-01
Tofino Bay 10-11
David Johnson (2008 Comply Or Die)
The Package 10-08
Jessies Dream 10-05
Swing Bill 10-04
Poker de Sivola 9-09
Trevor Hemmings (2005 Hedgehunter, 2011 Ballabriggs)
Albertas Run 11-08
Cloudy Lane 9-06
Andrea & Graham Wylie
Tidal Bay 11-10
Prince de Beauchene 11-03
On His Own 10-10
Ged Mason & Sir Alex Ferguson/Sir Alex Ferguson , Ged Mason, R Wood & P Done)
What A Friend 11-05
Harry The Viking 10-02
Lady Clarke, widow of Sir Stan Clarke, owner of 1997 winner Lord Gyllene)
Midnight Chase 11-00
William & Angela Rucker
Cappa Bleu 10-07
The Stewart Family
Top-weighted horses at the John Smith’s
Grand National Launch
Horse Age/Weight Position at Aintree
Synchronised 9-11-10 Fell 6th
Ballabriggs 11-11-09 6th
Midnight Chase 10-11-08 NR
Weird Al 9-11-08 Fell 27th
Burton Port 8-11-07 NR
Quel Esprit 8-11-07 NR
Calgary Bay 9-11-06 14th
Neptune Collonges 11-11-06 WON
Alfa Beat 8-11-05 Fell 7th
Planet of Sound 10-11-05 12th
Number of entries 82
Number in handicap 69
Weights (at time of weights launch) of first four home
1st Neptune Collonges 11-06
2nd Sunnyhillboy 10-05
3rd Seabass 10-12
4th Cappa Bleu 10-10
Horse Age/Weight Position at Aintree
Don’t Push it 11-11-10 3rd
Neptune Collonges 10-11-10 NR
Tidal Bay 10-11-09 UR 10th
Midnight Chase 9-11-08 NR
Deep Purple 10-11-07 NR
Tranquil Sea 9-11-07 NR
Synchronised 8-11-06 NR
Vic Venturi 11-11-06 BD 2nd
What A Friend 8-11-06 PU bef 27th
Majestic Concorde 8-11-05 UR 24th
Or Noir De Somoza 9-11-05 Fell 6th
Number of entries 102 (1 scratched before weights calculated)
Number in handicap 82
Weights (at time of weightslaunch) of first four home
1st Ballabriggs 11-00
2nd Oscar Time 10-09
3rd Don’t Push It 11-10
4th State Of Play 10-06
Horse Age/Weight Position at Aintree
Albertas Run 9-11-10 NR
Madison Du Berlais 9-11-10 Fell 19th
Notre Pere 9-11-10 NR
Taranis 9-11-09 NR
Our Vic 12-11-08 NR
Mon Mome 10-11-07 Fell 26th
Black Apalachi 11-11-06 2nd
Joe Lively 11-11-06 10th
Vic Venturi 10-11-06 UR 20th
Comply Or Die 11-11-05 12th
Number of entries 112 (1 scratched before weights calculated)
Number in handicap 97
Weights (at time of weights launch) of first four home
1st Don’t Push It 11-05
2nd Black Apalachi 11-06
3rd State Of Play 10-11
4th Big Fella Thanks 10-12
Horse Age/Weight Position at Aintree (weights rose by 8lb)
Exotic Dancer 9-11-10 NR
Madison Du Berlais 8-11-08 NR
Snoopy Loopy 11-11-05 NR
Star De Mohaison 8-11-05 NR
Notre Pere 8-11-04 NR
Nozic 8-11-03 NR
Air Force One 7-11-02 NR
Cloudy Lane 9-11-02 UR 15th
Afistfullofdollars 11-11-01 NR
War of Attrition 10-11-01 NR
Number of entries 120 (3 scratched before weights calculated)
Number in handicap 61
Weights (at time of weights launch) of first four home
1st Mon Mome 10-06
2nd Comply Or Die 10-12
3rd My Will 10-10
4th State Of Play 10-08
Horse Age/Weight Position at Aintree (weights rose by 3lb)
Beef Or Salmon 12-11-12 NR
Celestial Gold 10-11-10 NR
Turpin Green 9-11-10 NR
Hedgehunter 12-11-09 13th
Hi Cloy 11-11-09 11th
Knowhere 10-11-08 UR 25th
Mr Pointment 9-11-08 PU bef 30
Ollie Magern 10-11-08 NR
Forget The Past 10-11-07 NR
Monkerhostin 11-11-07 NR
Turko 6-11-07 Fell 25th
Number of entries 150
Number in handicap 105
Weights (at time of weights launch) of first four home
1st Comply Or Die 10-06
2nd King Johns Castle 10-08
3rd Snowy Morning 10-12
4th Slim Pickings 11-00
Horse Age/Weight Position at Aintree (weights did not rise)
Exotic Dancer 7-11-12 NR
Hedgehunter 11-11-12 9th
Forget The Past 9-11-09 NR
Fota Island 11-11-09 NR
Louping D’Ainay 8-11-09 NR
Eurotrek 11-11-08 PU bef 22nd
L’Ami 8-11-08 10th
State Of Play 7-11-08 NR
Ollie Magern 9-11-07 NR
Monkerhostin 10-11-6 REF 7th
Number of entries 119
Number in handicap 87
Weights (at time of weights launch) of first four home
1st Silver Birch 10-06
2nd McKelvey 10-04
3rd Slim Pickings 10-08
4th Philson Run 10-05
Horse Age/Weight Position at Aintree (weights rose by 2lb)
Monkerhostin 9-11-12 NR
Royal Auclair 9-11-10 Fell 1st
Hedgehunter 10-11-10 2nd
Hi Cloy 9-11-09 NR
Fondmort 10-11-08 NR
Cornish Rebel 9-11-07 PU bef 19th
Therealbandit 9-11-07 PU bef 27th
One Knight 10-11-07 NR
Joaaci 6-11-06 NR
It Takes Time 12-11-06 PU bef 29th
Number of entries 148
Number in handicap 85
Weights (at time of weights launch) of first four home
1st Numbersixvalverde 10-06
2nd Hedgehunter 11-10
3rd Clan Royal 10-08
4th Nil Desperandum 10-05
Horse Age/Weight Position at Aintree (weights rose by 3lb)
Grey Abbey 11-11-12 NR
Sir Rembrandt 9-11-10 NR
Keen Leader 9-11-09 NR
Le Coudray 11-11-09 PU Bef 21st
Kamillo 7-11-09 NR
First Gold 12-11-08 NR
Seebald 10-11-08 NR
Royal Auclair 8-11-07 2nd
Rince Ri 12-11-07 NR
One Knight 9-11-06 NR
Number of entries 152
Number in handicap 92
Weights (at time of weights launch) of first four home
1st Hedgehunter 10-12
2nd Royal Auclair 11-07
3rd Simply Gifted 10-03
4th It Takes Time 10-08
Horse Age/Weight Position at Aintree (weights rose by 3lb)
First Gold 11-11-12 NR
Rince Ri 11-11-10 NR
Harbour Pilot 9-11-10 NR
Fondmort 8-11-10 NR
Le Coudray 10-11-09 Fell 22nd
Commanche Court 11-11-08 NR
Valley Henry 9-11-08 NR
Monty’s Pass 11-11-07 4th
What’s Up Boys 10-11-06 BD 6th
Iris Royal 8-11-06 NR
Number of entries 122
Number in handicap 66
Weights (at time of weights launch) of first four home
1st Amberleigh House 10-07
2nd Clan Royal 10-02
3rd Lord Atterbury 9-12
4th Monty’s Pass 11-07
JOHN SMITH’S GRAND NATIONAL WEIGHTS
AT TIME OF ISSUE OF WEIGHTS
year, no of entries, 11st+, 10st+, no & % in handicap, % 135+
2000 99 24 42 66 67% -
2001 126 7 32 39 31% -
2002 139 9 24 33 24% -
2003 148 18 49 67 45% -
2004 117 23 43 66 59% 47%
2005 152 28 64 92 61% 47%
2006 144 19 66 85 59% 51%
2007 117 25 62 87 74% 62%
2008 149 26 79 105 70% 59%
2009 120 13 48 61 51% 80%
2010 111 30 67 97 87% 85%
2011 101 19 63 82 82% 85%
2012 82 21 48 69 84% 85%
2013 83 19 40 59 71% 78%
ON DAY OF RACE
year runners in handicap out of handicap lowest rated runner
2000 40 33 7 120
2001 40 26 14 123
2002 40 31 9 130
2003 40 36 4 130
2004 39 34 5 116
2005 40 40 0 134
2006 40 40 0 135
2007 40 40 0 134
2008 40 40 0 137
2009 40 40 0 139
2010 40 40 0 139
2011 40 40 0 138
2012 40 39 1 131
MEDIAN RATING OF HORSES ENTERED
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
130 134 135 137 137 142 143 141 144 143
POSITION NEEDED IN WEIGHTS AT ENTRY TO GET RUN IN RACE
Thanks to my friends at Racenews for the information
I first published this in October 2012. With the National approaching, I thought it worth another ‘outing’
Seventeen years ago today I was having breakfast in Winterborne Cottage where I was living at the time. It was the shortest commute I’d ever had, nestled in the trees about a hundred yards west of the winner’s enclosure at Aintree racecourse. Aintree’s 270 enclosed acres held a few properties and I was fortunate to live in one, at a peppercorn rent. I’d left SiS the year before to become Aintree’s first marketing manager.
At 8.20 my mobile rang. Aintree MD Charles Barnett, perfect diction unruffled as ever said, ‘Joe, Red Rum died this morning. He’s on his way here. We want him under the ground before telling the press. Can you meet me by the winning post in half an hour?’
It was a job. I didn’t stop to reflect on my life or the part Red Rum had played in it, or the path that had led me from a pit village in Lanarkshire to the best racecourse in the world. I was a mongrel working class boy whose habitual truancy led to a note from the headmaster to my father eight weeks short of my fifteenth birthday: “If your son dislikes school so much, tell him not to come back.” (Oh those pre-politically correct days!).
And I never went back, considering myself expelled at 14. I rejoiced and headed out into the world without a qualification to my name but armed with a twenty-two carat romantic view of life gained from all the books I’d read, huddled in the corner of warm libraries when I should have been at school.
The only teacher I ever paid attention to was one I’d never met, Dick Francis. I’d got through a book of his a day.
On a patch of old farm land behind St Pat’s school in my village, an optimistic farmer called Jim Barrett trained a dozen horses. I never thought then how incongruous it was, these ten acres or so, surrounded by steelworks and abandoned pits. I never noticed the smoky industry; I saw Uplands, Saxon House, Seven Barrows. But no Lanzarote or Bula was housed there.
Still, third-rate thoroughbreds were racehorses, creatures of unlimited potential and I’d be there in many frozen dawns to groom and muck out and sometimes ride and watch the stable jockey, three years my senior and better known in the village as the son of the owner of the fish and chip shop. His name was Len Lungo and a couple of years later he headed south to ride Martin Pipe’s first ever winner, Hit Parade.
The Guv’nor (oh, how I loved calling him that) used to weigh me once a week and I’d starve in the previous twenty four hours hoping that next day he’d tell me I’d make it as a jockey. But he never did and I never stopped growing. Jim Barrett died a relatively young man and I was cast adrift looking for some way to stay in ‘the sport’.
The best I could manage was a job with Ladbrokes. By the time of Red Rum’s first National I was nineteen and managing a busy betting shop in Hamilton and cursing Red Rum not just for catching the magnificent Crisp in the dying strides of that wonderful race, but for being the best bet for many at 9/1 joint-fav with the runner-up.
Those were the days when settling was done without machines. We worked furiously through around 5,000 betting slips as the queues of happy punters snaked around the shop and out the door.
That was the first of Rummy’s Nationals. It was the first of mine as a bona fide worker in the betting industry. That race, that finish, the particpants were to play a huge part in my life – unplanned, never knowingly sought. Had someone told me that day how it would all pan out, even at my most romantic and optimistic, I’d never have believed it.
Twenty two years later, breakfast abandoned, I sat in Winterborne Cottage drafting the press release to fax to my great friend Nigel Payne who had recruited me to SiS and had been instrumental in me getting the job at Aintree. The plan was to give the old horse a quiet burial without the media swarming all over the track. One of the reasons for the secrecy was, I suppose, the fact that it is almost impossible to bury half a ton of thoroughbred in a dignified manner.
Walking toward the winning post on that fine dry morning, I passed the place where I’d stood with Red Rum on the day of his 30th birthday, five months before.
May 3rd was to be just another meeting at Aintree. We were down to five meetings a year. In the 60s, Aintree had staged about 17 meetings a year, flat and jumps, but as the course fell further into disrepair, Mrs Topham gradually surrendered meetings till we were left with just a handful.
Anyway, preparing for that May meeting, I noticed in Red Rum’s Timeform essay that he’d been born on May 3rd 1965. I suggested to Charles Barnett that we call our meeting Red Rum’s 30th Birthday Meeting. Charles, always open to ideas said “Crack on.”
I rang Ginger to see if the horse would be well enough to attend and, cheery and helpful as ever, he said. “Of course he will, old son.” It didn’t take long to get a buzz going. The BBC and ITV asked if they could send news teams. We were getting calls from the international media and I got kind of carried away and told Charles I was going to create a special racecard and order 10,000 of them. That May meeting had seldom attracted more than 3,000 racegoers.
“You won’t sell them, Joe.”
“We will. Trust me. I’ve got an interview with Ginger in there, a special portrait of Red Rum on the cover. Timeform have agreed to let me publish their full essay on him from Chasers and Hurdlers!”
“There’s no way, you’ll sell close to ten thousand.”
“Trust me, Charles!”
He smiled and gave one of his shrugs (think Hooper in Jaws trying to dissuade the men in the overcrowded boat “They’re all gonna die!”)
When the track emptied after the meeting I was left staring at a stack of unopened boxes holding about 7,000 racecards. But CB never ever said “I told you so,” and the fact that he didn’t meant a lot to me.
Anyway, on that May evening, I’d walked out with Red Rum and his handler from the old stables. We came across behind the stands, Rummy looking splendid in his coat in the fading sun, ambling along quietly. But just as we came around the end of the Queen Mother stand, about thirty yards beyond the winning post, Rummy raised his head quickly and pricked his ears. His eyes became brighter and he stood very still for what seemed a long time, just watching. Lord knows what he was remembering but I will never forget that image.
Twenty four weeks later he was back close to the winning post he loved so well. This time he was lying on his left side, head toward the red and white disk above him, eyes closed, breath gone. No pallbearers, no coffin, no shroud.
Ginger was on my left, Charles on my right beside the only other man there, Bob Dixon, head groundsman whose precious turf had been gouged by the shovel of a yellow JCB which scooped out more than enough earth to make sure there’d be no embarrassing ‘rehearsal’.
Charles turned toward Ginger. Ginger looked at his oldest equine friend one final time and nodded. Charles raised a thumb to the JCB driver and the shovel was lowered to slip slowly below the spine of the finest Grand National horse that had ever galloped those acres since the first National in 1839. Slowly, slowly, slowly, Rummy was pushed toward the edge of his grave until gravity took over. Ginger walked forward and threw in a handful of fresh earth. I turned and went to my office to place an order for his headstone and to write his epitaph for it.
It didn’t take long for me to figure out that a square yard of marble was never going to be enough on which to do credit to a true equine legend and I settled for the simplest of words. I showed them to Charles and to Ginger and they agreed there was nothing more to say.
A couple of weeks ago, on a beautiful morning, another player in that 1973 National sat with me on Fred Winter’s memorial bench outside his old yard Uplands, the place I’d dreamed of as a teenager. Richard Pitman and I published our first novel 20 years after Rummy’s first win and Richard’s heart-rending defeat on Crisp.
I’d wanted to go there with Richard. Next year is the 40th anniversary of the great race. From that famous yard behind us, Crisp had been driven north to Liverpool. He came back having endeared himself to anyone who had a heart. His jockey came back with the memory of an experience no other human being would ever have. Richard never claimed to be a great jockey. He wasn’t, but he has always been too modest. There were few who could get a horse jumping the way he could and even fewer who would blame themselves for losing the most famous race in the world when giving 23lbs to what turned out to be the greatest Grand National horse in history.
Sitting on that bench Richard explained to me, “It wasn’t so much picking up my stick before the Elbow that was the mistake, it was taking my hand off the reins to use it.” He has had almost 40 years of being tough on himself. I have had 40 years in a sport I love. I never knew the touchstone for me would turn out to be the 1973 Grand National. I helped bury the winning horse. I wrote novels with the man who rode Crisp. I have not sat on a racehorse these past 40 years but it has turned out a great ride through life for me – no skill required from the pilot, carried safely round the course by Lady Luck.
Richard and Joe’s first novel Warned Off is on Kindle. Click on the book cover to see details and reviews. Thanks
In an attempt to improve safety at the Grand National, one of the solutions offered by the authorities is to move the start farther away from the stands – 90 yards closer to the first fence. The key argument here seems to be to get the horses and jockeys away from the tension that builds around the current start area.
But jockeys already feel they don’t have enough time to get organised at the first fence – how can the solution be to give them an even shorter distance in which to accomplish that?
The first fence is a huge factor in the National’s problems in my opinion. Jockeys feel they don’t have enough time to ‘get a position’ which, effectively, means to be at the front in case the speed of the ones in front causes them to fall and bring down those behind (a vicious circle if ever there was one). Having built that rush to the first, they then have a long straight run down that line of fences in which it is difficult to dilute the momentum built up just because of worries about the first fence.
If they wanted to get the field away from the hubbub of the stands, why not start the race just after the last fence? By my very rough reckoning that would add about 3 furlongs to the National, perhaps a few yards more.
Okay, they’d have a tightish turn down toward the current start, but it’s not as sharp as it looks from TV footage as they’d have the whole of the Mildmay course to use on the first circuit. The issue for jockeys in a hurry would be the elbow first time round; some re-configuring could be done to it, but how many jockeys are going to be in a mad rush that early in a race of almost 5 miles? They’d have a run of about 5 furlongs to the first to get the fizz out of the horses and get themselves organised.
Even at that first bend, although those on the outside would be running farther than horses on the inner, there is plenty of room and I think most wouldn’t be concerned at having to travel wide that early.
Increasing the distance would, I believe, lead to more completions as jockeys would be much more inclined to hunt round the first circuit at a sensible pace like they used to do. For my money it would have been eminently more sensible, and more acceptable from a ‘heritage’ viewpoint, to have made the race longer rather than shorter – not to mention safer.
The BHA’s findings regarding the deaths of Synchronised and According To Pete, as well as those concerning the start of the 2012 Grand National were published today.
The cause of Synchronised’s injury appears to have been the solid structure around which the National fences are built – thick wooden stakes which have a rubber-covering applied before being dressed with spruce. The report does not conclude that these posts caused the fractures to Synchronised but I believe the evidence points very strongly in that direction.
Here is the relevant section
After the fall, the horse got up and carried on running and jumping fences riderless. On review of the footage there is no evidence to suggest he was carrying any sort of injury at this point. This is corroborated by speed sensing data, which shows that the horse was travelling at the same speed both before and after the fall at Becher’s.
The injury that led to Synchronised being put down occurred at Fence 11. He appears to decelerate into the fence and does not jump it cleanly, dragging his hindlegs and hindquarters through the fence. It would appear he fractured his right hind tibia and fibula in the process.
This finding should signal the end for these wooden stakes. Aintree will have to come up with a way of building those famous fences around a material which has sufficient give to keep bones intact.
As for the start, the BHA has managed to find all 40 riders guilty of offences there while enforcing no punishment. They excuse themselves from this by applying discretion:
Despite the apparent breaches of the relevant Rules, it has been decided not to bring charges against any rider. In arriving at this decision the BHA took account of the effect of the delay caused by the late arrival of Synchronised at the start and the complications experienced with re-setting the starting tape.
In taking account of these factors, what logic was applied? Did the delay caused by both events cause the horses to become so difficult to control that the riders could not be blamed? If so, then how can the jockeys have been guilty of the offence(s)? Or did the delay justify in some odd way the jockeys’ behaviour? If the latter is the case, then what is on offer is a post-National dispensation from what the riders were instructed to do pre-National, so no offence there either.
The only other conclusion is that the BHA has finally and publicly accepted what we all knew anyway – pre-race briefings to Grand National jockeys are a complete waste of time and breath. The post-2011 BHA GN report carried strong evidence that speed over the first six fences is highly likely to be a factor in the number of casualties. In light of that it seems foolish to tacitly concede that the jockeys can pretty much behave as they like at the start; why offer them carte-blanche regarding their intended tactics, the most favoured of which seems to be ‘get a good position’ (go fast early)?
If changes are to be implemented effectively, the BHA is going to have to take a much stronger stance on the behaviour of jockeys at the start and perhaps even in the early stages of the race itself.
In this case, the BHA has decided to write to riders ‘expressing disappointment’:
The BHA has written to all the riders concerned and expressed their disappointment at the conduct of riders at the start, especially bearing in mind that considerable emphasis was placed on this aspect of the race during the pre-race Jockey’s Briefing. In showing disregard to the instructions of the Starter, the riders placed those on the ground assisting with the start in a potentially dangerous situation.
Disappointment is a Victorian concept in my opinion. It’s like saying ‘It’s not fair!’ When disappointment occurs, the fault lies with the disappointee not the disappointer. People will not change their behaviour because you are disappointed; they will change it if the penalty for not doing so is severe enough.
I am not having a go at jockeys here. I suspect that Mr Bittar is a compromiser at heart: in his position, compromise should come in much smaller doses. “We think you’re wrong but we will let you off” is no foundation on which to build anything. Sensible rules, just punishment and a proper understanding of when to apply these will be critical to Mr Bittar’s future at the BHA. This has been a very woolly start. I hope the recommendations of the full Grand National report contain no fudge.
“The Review process has been balanced, thorough and comprehensive. The Review Group, and the BHA Board, are confident that the 30 recommendations will help achieve the objectives of not only enhancing the safety and welfare of participants but also maintaining public confidence in both the sport, and the Grand National as a race.”
So said Tim Morris, Director of Equine Science and Welfare at the BHA after that organisation’s review of the 2011 Grand National in which 2 horses died and 19 others failed to finish.
Last Saturday 2 horses died and 23 others failed to finish signifying that the enhancement of safety and welfare target was not reached. A victory could be claimed on the ‘maintaining public confidence’ aspect as attendances, TV viewing and betting turnover was up.
But given that the review was so thorough and comprehensive, what else can be done? What, if anything, did the review committee miss or get wrong last year?
In this article, I’ve listed selective extracts from the Review Group’s report, concentrating on the aspects most commonly discussed since Saturday:
Speed over the first few fences
The drops on the landing sides
At the end I offer some potential solutions to the speed issue by way of stirring up some creative thinking on the part of reformers.
NB, from here on in this document, any text not in italics is extracted directly from the review document; italicised text represents my comments.
Extracts from the Grand National: A Review of safety and welfare, published November 2011
Since 2000, the race averages 28.39% fallers, compared to 21.48% for the other four races staged on the Grand National circuit.
The fence-by-fence Grand National faller data since 1990 highlighted that, the first 1 minute 35 secs up to and including jumping Becher’s Brook (Fence 6), accounts for over 53% of all falls in the race and 28% of unseated riders.
Fence 1 appears to exhibit a particular trait inasmuch as when it is jumped as the very first fence in the race its rates of 21.6% of all falls and 8.1% of all unseats compare with 0% for both categories when it is jumped on the second circuit (Fence 17).
Clearly, a significant number of runners will not set out on the second circuit having already fallen or pulled up but the Review Group
believes it is still a striking comparison and feels that it can at least in part be explained by the fact that most of the runners will never have seen an obstacle like a Grand National fence before.
On that basis, it supports a proposal made by the Aintree Executive that they seek to construct an Aintree-style fence at each of the major training centres and encourage trainers to school their runners over it. This approach was previously adopted after the last major regulatory review of the Grand National in 1998. But there is a need to re-invigorate this practice.
In view of the unique fence design of the Grand National fences, the Aintree Executive shall again liaise with all major Jump training centres to develop the construction and encourage the use of a well maintained Aintree-style schooling fence for trainers to use at each centre.
Was this recommendation adopted post-1998? If not, who was responsible for policing it? Have the post-2011 recommendations been put in place at training centres? You will see later in this piece that the review group were not happy to make decisions based on assumptions and yet they willingly do so here in regard to the ‘surprise’ to some horses of seeing a GN fence for the first time.
This ‘lack of experience factor’ was a view I shared until I read a post on TRF by the forumite known as Venture to Cognac. His research showed that a long list of horses with experience of the fences failed to get round on other occasions. Some, of course, failed at their first attempt, but many found their previous experience to be of little value. That list includes 16 winners of the Grand National. VTC makes the point too that his research highlights the fact that raising the standard of horses by way of ratings, won’t necessarily make much difference to the number of finishers.
Back to the report’s findings . . .
Recurring fall types
It was apparent that there was a recurring type of fall at two particular fences. At Fence 1, where in very recent times there have actually been few Grand National fallers (three in the past five years), those horses that fell had a tendency to overjump the obstacle and crumple on landing some distance further away from where horses would usually be expected to land. The same manner of
landing was not apparent when the runners jumped the fence on the second circuit, as the seventeeth fence of the race.
Reinforcing the possibility of a “first fence jumped” trend is the fact that the 1990 – 2011 Topham races (run on day two of the three-day Grand National Meeting over a distance of 2 miles 5 1/2 furlongs) has produced eighteen fallers at the first in the Topham (i.e. Fence 13 of the Grand National course) out of 112 in total and yet Fence 13 is not at all a higher risk fence when jumped in the Grand National.
Similarly, Fence 1 on the Grand National course – which is jumped as the fifth fence in the Topham – has had no falls or unseated riders whatsoever in the Topham since 1990.
Of further interest to the Review Group when looking at the Topham faller/unseated data is that the Grand National Fence 4 and Becher’s (in particular) again demonstrate faller and unseat percentages that are higher than all but the first in The Topham, i.e. Fence 13 in the Grand National. This is despite the fact that they are jumped as the 8th and 10th Fences respectively in the Topham.
Jockey feedback from the consultation sessions essentially stated that all the Grand National fences looked and rode well, and that very little, if anything, needed to be changed.
When presented by Review Group members with a) the faller statistics for Fences 1, 4 and Becher’s (Fence 6) and b) options for change, the jockeys acknowledged the logic of exploring a possible reduction in the effective drop of these obstacles as they were clearly amongst the fences with the highest faller rates.
Going too fast from the off?
The uniquely long run of 420 yards to the first fence – coupled with its higher than normal percentage of fallers (albeit less in recent years), many of which fell by over-jumping the obstacle – appears to indicate that speed is a risk factor in the early stages of the Grand National.
2000 – 2011 split timings data to each of the first ten fences was compiled for the Review Group with a view to establishing whether there was any clear correlation between the Going, early pace of the race and the number of early fallers/injuries.
However no such clear correlation appears to exist across the relatively small sample size of twelve races.
For instance, the fastest run to the first fence in the data set was 27.44secs in 2000 on Good Going. This resulted in five fallers. Yet the third slowest run to the first (in 2002: 29.00secs, also on Good Going) resulted in eight fallers and one unseated rider. Similarly, the 2000 Grand National was the fastest (of the twelve assessed) to Becher’s Brook and by the time that obstacle had been jumped there had been ten fallers; the 2002 running remained the third slowest to Becher’s but it too had seen ten fallers and two unseats after that fence.
Of the twelve races, the 2011 race holds a middling position of being the fifth slowest to the first and the fifth fastest to Becher’s Brook. In the 2000-2011 period the two renewals (2003 and 2005) with the least fallers/unseats up to and including Becher’s Brook were, respectively, the seventh and fourth fastest to reach the fence. Clear correlations between early speed and the Going and/or fallers are therefore not apparent.
Perhaps the group were seeking too many correlations here and relying heavily on accurate going descriptions for a specific section of the course – the first six fences which, it is worth repeating, have claimed 53% of total race fallers and 28% of total race unseats since 1990. From a fence-count viewpoint, 20% of the fences here have accounted for a large % of falls/unseats. On a time basis – duration of the race at standard time – 17.6% of the duration resulted in 53%/28% group of falls/unseats.
Back to the findings . . .
However, the Review Group supports the Aintree Executive’s plan to investigate the introduction of even more irrigation capability along the section of the Grand National course from the Melling Road to Becher’s Brook. The flexibility of being able to apply extra targeted irrigation to soften or slow down the ground, can only be a positive measure.
The Aintree Executive should investigate the feasibility of introducing additional irrigation capability to the section of the Grand National course running from the start along to Becher’s Brook. As long as irrigation is applied judiciously, with a view to providing Going just on the softer side of Good, there is no downside to seeking to implement an even more flexible watering capability along the part of the track where the majority of falls occur.
How would horses react from going from softish ground to good ground after fence 6 and, possibly more importantly, meeting that ground again on circuit 2? Also, were the weather to take a sudden late turn for the worse, what would the effect be on that section of track?
Notwithstanding the lack of clear statistical correlation between early speed and number of early fallers, the Review Group is still of the opinion – having reviewed the TV footage of all Grand Nationals from 2000 and listened to participant feedback – that the pace over the initial fences in the race is certainly faster than in any routine long-distance Steeplechase over traditional birch fences.
This pace appeared to be maintained up to and including the jumping of Becher’s Brook (Fence 6).
The Review Group and Aintree Executive concluded that more specific sectional timing research would be helpful in this area to fully understand the effects of early speed on the number of finishers in the race. The Group supports Aintree’s plan to investigate the possible use of speed and positioning technology (i.e. sectional timing equipment carried in the number cloth of every runner) to track the speed of all runners in future. This would improve statistical analysis of the pace of the race so that any correlations can be
drawn from the data.
The race is run just once a year so this seems to me a slightly daft proposal. How long would it take to build reliable data? Given the furore raised by the last two runnings, we simply do not have time to wait ten years or more.
Currently, the Group can only make a subjective judgement on the basis of a) fairly basic split time data and b) TV footage – that the over-jumping falls at the first fence and high faller rate up to and including Becher’s Brook are due solely to the faster early pace of the Grand National in general when compared to more “routine” staying Steeplechases on other British licensed racecourses.
A blog post by Matt Bisogno featured this observation:
But I think there is a bigger issue that has not yet been adequately addressed, and I have a radical proposal to help address it. The issue is that of speed in the early part of the race. It has long been held that the way to win the Grand National is to be prominent early through a mad gallop, and to cling on late when stamina is running out.
Consider this: Neptune Collonges was last from the start and not prominent until Bechers second time (as the above image shows), so there is no necessity to be close up early.
More importantly, consider this: the first two furlongs of the Listed Further Flight Stakes, a 1m6f flat race, were run in around 27.5 seconds (hand timed) last week.
The approximately two furlong run* from the start of the Grand National to the first fence was completed this year in 26.5 seconds. Last year, it was a slightly more measured 27.6 seconds (all hand timed).
This is patently too fast, and extremely dangerous. And it creates a problem of momentum: once a rider has a horse travelling at that pace, trying to establish a position and a rhythm in the race, that rider must maintain the pace. Or at least feels he must.
*It’s 20 yards short of two furlongs
Matt goes on to suggest moving the start forward by a furlong, therefore reducing the race distance to 4m 3f. The Review group did consider moving the start . . .
Options for Managing Initial Race Speed
In the meantime, the Review Group still wished to consider whether there were options that could be implemented now to materially reduce the initial speed. These were discussed with the sport’s participants.
The possibility of reducing the run to the existing first fence by bringing forward the start position found no support whatsoever from the jockeys consulted. They believed that to have any effect the start would need to be approximately 110yds from the first fence and this would result in less time for all the runners to find room before the obstacle. They felt that this could have the unintended consequence of increasing the number of incidents at the first fence. Some of the jockeys also felt that the pace would just rise soon after jumping the first if the run to it were reduced. They also pointed out that few runners are ever being vigorously ridden or pushed along “off the bridle” as they approach the first fence.
The majority of trainers consulted believed the start position should remain unchanged. However, there was some support for reducing the distance to the first fence on the basis that this approach was adopted in the Topham Chase from 2005 when the run to the first fence from its then two miles six furlongs start was reduced by half a furlong. There have been four fallers and just one unseated rider at the first fence in the subsequent seven renewals of the Topham Chase from the new start. Albeit it is probably too early to conclude statistically that this improvement is purely due to the new start position.
The trainers also believed that the jockeys had a responsibility to ride the Grand National sensibly at a maintainable gallop and that this should be emphasised at their pre-race briefing. (Er, I think we know by now folks that this is simply not going to happen and there is plenty of evidence to back that up!)
The members of the Authority’s Course Inspectorate within the Review Group have reservations as to where a substantively shortened start position could be suitably located. Therefore, they did not support a reduced run to the first fence from 2012. Similarly, they do not believe there is real scope to significantly and safely bring forward Fence 1 towards the current start location, due mainly to the position of the Melling Road. Neither of the participant groups had supported that option when consulted.
They didn’t support what seems a very sensible idea because it presents a practical/logistical difficulty?
The concept of an additional, smaller (but still Aintree-style) fence between the current start position and first fence was also discussed with the participant groups and within the Review Group. This was considered on the basis that it could help to decrease initial speed and then be removed ahead of the runners returning on the second circuit. The idea of a “sighter” fence was not supported, however, with most consultees believing it would simply increase the fundamental level of risk by effectively creating a 31st fence to negotiate, as well as provide less time for the jockeys to find racing room. Course topography also ruled out this option.
Whilst the possibility of bringing the current first fence closer to the current start position (or vice versa) found little support amongst the participant groups and brings with it practical challenges and potentially unintended consequences, both options should remain under close consideration beyond 2012. The impact of the new changes to Fences 1, 4 and 6 (Becher’s Brook should dictate whether the start/first fence dynamic still needs to be altered in future.
The RSPCA among others, is keen to eliminate drop fences; according to the review group, that means altering almost every fence. Back to the findings . . .
Another unique aspect of the Grand National course fences is that virtually all of the obstacles have a “drop” to some degree when measuring the height difference between the ground level at the take-off area and the ground level on the (lower) landing side of the obstacle. The professional survey work carried out since this year’s race shows that fourteen of the sixteen fences have an average drop of over four inches, when measured at five metre intervals across the width of the landing area, with the biggest being at Becher’s Brook (thirteen inches).
At Becher’s Brook (i.e. Fence 6 and 22) - the obstacle with the biggest drop on the landing side – the clear reason for most jockeys and horses parting company involved the horse being angled by the rider from a position opposite the middle of the fence towards the inner at take-off and either: • making a mistake and taking a very steep or rotational landing trajectory with the jockey often landing feet first, or; • jumping the fence well but nodding on landing and falling or unseating the jockey whilst sliding to a halt along the
At the Review Group’s consultation meeting with the jockeys, they reported that the methodology for starting the Grand National was good and they did not believe there was any need to change it. However, they all agreed that the horses should be on course at the start for as short a time as possible after the official Parade had taken place.
There was no suggestion from any of the participants consulted that the physical size of the start area negatively impacted on fairness or the welfare of the runners. It was noted, however, that the proximity and nature of the grandstands at Aintree contributed to high crowd noise levels as the runners approached the starting tape or if there was any perceived delay. By extension, the position of the start was also considered in relation to whether the initial pace of the race was a contributing factor to falls or injuries.
There is no doubt that loose horses can be a major danger to themselves, other participants or even Emergency Service personnel or spectators at any race meeting. Since 1990, three horses (16% of the total) have died during or very shortly after the Grand National from injuries sustained whilst riderless. Furthermore, it is impossible to plan exactly for what a loose horse might do next. Consequently, it was important for the Review Group to clearly understand how riderless horses are managed by the Aintree Executive during the Grand National – particularly in the context of such a large footprint of flat land.
The Review Group fully appreciates the difficulties of controlling a unique site like Aintree and trying to catch all the loose horses in a timely manner. Since 2000, on average eighteen horses part company with their jockey during the race. Many will stop immediately and be caught straight away by the jockey, fence attendant, or horse-catcher. However, some do not, and it is important that the Aintree Executive does everything it can in this vital area.
The Aintree Executive informed the Review Group that on Grand National day a team of around 30 local horsemen are allocated sectors of the course, which they patrol to catch loose horses during and after the race.
Limiting the number of runners
It was clear to the Review Group from its analysis of all the TV footage of all the professional races staged on the Grand National course since 2000 that three incidents of multiple fallers/unseats/brought downs/refusals have occurred during the period reviewed:
• Fence 8 (Canal Turn), 2001: Nine horses;
• Fence 1, 2002: Nine horses;
• Fence 6 (Becher’s Brook), 2004: Eight horses
Incidents involving that number of runners are rare at other licensed Jumps racecourses, including Aintree’s Mildmay Course, and could therefore simply be a function of the Grand National fence design. At the same time, injury rates (on the basis of five years of nationwide Jump data) do appear to show an upwards trend as the numbers of runners increase, although this has not been validated by a statistical analysis, probably because of the small sample size.
A number of points suggesting a Safety Factor reduction to between 30-34 were made by the welfare organisations in their feedback to the effect that: • it is logical that if the number of horses exposed to the risk factors of the race is reduced, so too will the number of injuries and the likelihood of loose horses causing incidents; • no other Jumps race has a Safety Factor higher than 30 and yet the
Grand National’s is 33.33% greater than that figure.
The delegations of trainers and jockeys consulted by the Review Group unanimously supported the retention of a Safety Factor of 40. (Turkeys, voting and Christmas are words the review group might have considered on hearing this.)
The Review Group found no recurring trend whatsoever of horses systematically failing to get a clear sight of the fences as they prepared to jump them. Virtually all the fallers reviewed during that period had a clear run to the fence where they fell or unseated their jockey.
Furthermore, the Review Group considered research carried out through its Inspectorate team and established that the average available “width of fence per horse” on the Grand National course was comparable to the averages for all licensed Jumps courses, including the width of fence per horse at other very high profile jumps fixtures.
(NB, from here, my comments are no longer in italics)
So where now for the BHA and for the world’s greatest race? Pressure from the public/media for a reduction in field size is the change most likely to be resisted by trainers and jockeys. If drop fences are to be altered again, they will need to consider which ones and to what degree they will change them. The RSPCA seem strongly opposed to these drops and their fairly new Chief Exec, Gavin Grant could well push for the complete elimination of all drops. Racing should not, I believe, underestimate Mr Grant’s ambition for change. In a Radio 4 phone-in on April 17th, he said “”Unless the BHA really respond here, and are seen to respond, I think the days of NH racing and the Grand National are numbered”
The Review Group’s suspicion that speed over the first six fences plays a large part in non-completions was not fully reinforced by the 2012 stats (36% of fallers, 16% of unseats) but given that the figures are based on data since 1990, the group will be under pressure now, I believe, to act ’on the balance of probabilities’ rather than trying to gather further data by way of technology. With the first 95 seconds of the National accounting for well over 50% of fallers/URs combined, that part of the race simply must be slowed. But how?
Well, they might try the selective watering mentioned in the report. Or they could opt for much more radical solutions like setting speed limits for that section, but how would you enforce any limit?
Maybe a rule could be brought in decreeing that any horse landing over the first in under 33 seconds is disqualified: touching down over Becher’s in under 1 minute 50 (15 seconds longer than the average), means disqualification. Large digital clocks could be set high above each side of the first six fences . . .
What about replacing the turf on that 420 yard run to the first with a deep all-weather type surface, consistent and resistant to temperature and rain?
Or perhaps running a lead vehicle on the inside track just after Melling Rd, travelling at a pre-agreed speed with the jockeys instructed not to pass, under penalty of disqualification, till after Becher’s? This is very practical from a logistics viewpoint: the old Grand Prix track at Aintree is still in excellent condition. Its back straight runs close enough to that line of fences for jockeys be to be able to see it easily, without it being a distraction. In practise, I think the vehicle would need to pull a long trailer – with a large board/sign at the rear (good branding opportunity for the sponsors!)
What would you do? (Please leave your ideas in the Comments section below. Perhaps Aintree will pay a nice fat fee to anyone coming up with the answer!)
The full Review Group report is here
In the same period, 5 horses died in The Topham and 1 in The Foxhunters. Six horses also died over hurdles at Aintree in the same period and two horses died in NH flat races (4 died over fences on The Mildmay course).
I could have carried on and dissected the stats by runner, by comparison to other courses etc., but in the end what will matter is how racing explains itself to the public on days like these and, crucially, how it keeps the welfare organisations on its side. I’ve long thought that the RSPCA’s support for NH racing is a short-head away from being untenable. The whip controversy did substantial damage to racing’s relationship with the RSPCA and I think today’s fatalities will see the boardroom door at RSPCA HQ finally slammed on the Grand National and, sooner rather than later, on NH racing itself.
I suspect there might well be some table-banging going on at the next Heineken board meeting too (they own the John Smith’s brand). And what about Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR)? They hold a prime hand of UK racecourses – Aintree included. JCR put all their profits back into racing but they run a tightly-focused organisation acutely tuned to the commercial impact of their decisions. They’ll have little doubt that turnstile income won’t be affected by fatalities, but the change to CH4, the sensitivity of sponsors and the vulnerability of their brand to Animal Rights groups will need to be taken into consideration.
“They either take to them or they don’t”
So what is it about the race that causes carnage? Speed, say many professionals, and the temptation to go faster has been heightened by the changes intended to make the fences easier, the elimination of drops and shaving of heights.
Speed contributes, but I think the fences are the main problem. Steeplechasers spend 99% of their careers jumping park fences (the standard black birch barriers you find everywhere except Aintree and at Cross Country courses). Did you see Synchronised today when AP let him have a look at the first fence before cantering back to the start? Something spooked him there – it might have been the crowds or a camera or something, but it could have been the fence itself.
Why do some horses run well time and again at Aintree (Always Waining anyone?), while many pull up, fall or refuse? Could it be simple unfamiliarity or fear?
The Grand National fences are built on a foundation of solid wooden stakes dressed with tons of spruce. They’re dauntingly big and wide with an unusual colour, from a horse’s viewpoint. Racehorses like routine. Most don’t relish being asked to face something they’ve never previously encountered. Some, a rare few, find the experience refreshing and galvanising; others see it as an ordeal.
The performance of horses over Cross Country courses – Cheltenham’s being the only UK example – back up this theory. The same horses do well on these unusual tracks time and time again.
“Lessons will be learned”
Aintree and Racing plc cannot simply keep pleading this argument after each Grand National. Two horses died last year: ‘improvements’ were made: two horses died this year.
What will result from the review of this year’s race?
My opinion is that the only long-term solution will be to strip away the spruce, burn the wooden stakes and build standard steeplechase fences of regular height. A £1m prize will ensure the quality of the race and size of the field is not diluted, The extreme distance will still make it a unique test. The public will not be discouraged from betting on it, horses will no longer be taken by surprise and more of them will survive the race.
The nostalgia branded on my heart will mourn the passing of these fences (I had the honour of writing the words inscribed on Red Rum’s gravestone and of being present, alongside Ginger at his burial), but I’d sooner see these fences consigned to history than lose the race itself.
I’m indebted to Gingertipster, a regular poster on TRF, for permission to re-publish his annual Grand National formguide
2012 AINTREE GRAND NATIONAL 4m4f
1) 13-P0311 SYNCHRONISED Saddlers Wells – Mayasta (Bob Back) 9-11-10
J P McManus / Jonjo O’Neill / A P McCoy (handicap mark in race 161-168 in future)
With big guns disappointing Synchronised won a substandard Gold Cup (3m2½f good), beating The Giant Bolster 2¼ lengths. Form which still gives a good chance of winning this. Now just 20 lbs worse off with The Midnight Club who was 63 lengths behind in 7th. 2010 Welsh National (3m5½f soft) and Midlands National (4m1½f heavy) winner Synchronised was suited by the test of stamina a strong pace provided at Cheltenham. Already 7 lbs well-in on official ratings and every chance of further progress at this extreme trip. Despite a roundish action is proven on good as well as heavy. Biggest problem to him winning could be the fences. Usually makes mistakes, doesn’t give them much room and sometimes skews on landing but has so far always found a leg.
2) 11/1121-4 BALLABRIGGS Presenting – Papoose (Little Bighorn) 11-11-09
Trevor Hemmings / Donald McCain / Jason Maguire (160-160)
Donald could become the first since father “Ginger”and Red Rum to win back to back Nationals. Not visibly well treated after upped 10 lbs for 2¼ length victory over Oscar Time giving him 5 lbs. 12 lbs worse off with 4th State Of Play 16¼ lengths away. Now a stone worse off with 6th The Midnight club who he beat a total of 27¼ lengths. The others who re-oppose did not finish. Almost lost 2010 Kim Muir after being clear over final fence, idling badly. It’s possible Ballabriggs is better than winning distances in the Grand National suggests, only doing just enough to win. Prolific winner of 6 of last 8 starts, only defeats in that time when unfit for National preps. Only one target this season. Best efforts so far on good, though impressive winner earlier in career on soft. Races prominently. Made one or two mistakes in last year’s race, particularly at Valentines, but generally jumps well.
3) 1/10P-13P WEIRD AL Accordian – Bucks Gift (Buckley) 9-11-08
Brannon, Dennis, Dick, Holden / Donald McCain / Timmy Murphy (159-164)
Moved to last year’s Grand National winning trainer Donald McCain at start of the season. Won Charlie Hall (3m1f good), beating Time For Rupert 3½ lengths with another 27 lengths back to a below par Chicago Grey, giving them both 3 lbs. Now only 6 lbs worse off with latter. Is well handicapped on evidence of finishing 10 lengths behind Kauto Star (2 behind Long Run) in Betfair Chase (3m Good-soft). It’s possible being held up in a strongly run race slightly flattered him. Put away until the Gold Cup 4 months later, usually runs well fresh but soon beaten after breaking a blood vessel, also bled in 2011 renewal. Ran poorly all three starts beyond 3m1f, but excuses each time. By Accordian who is a good stamina influence and brother to St Leger winner Sonus. Dam’s sire Buckley won Doncaster Cup. Weird Al has a good chance of staying the Grand National trip but will need a quick recovery. Acts on soft and good ground. Usually jumps well.
4) 106-P422 NEPTUNE COLLONGES Dom Alco – Castille Collonges (El Badr) 11-11-06
John Hales / Paul Nicholls / Daryl Jacob (157-162)
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls relies on this one time top class grey (almost white) to break his Grand National duck. Beaten just 7 lengths, 3rd in Denman’s Gold Cup (3m2½f) on good ground. Not as good nowadays but handicap mark reflects that. Best effort for some time upped to 3m4f on heavy latest start. Winner of 6 of 8 races on that surface. Found plenty and only went down by a neck trying to give 21 lbs (if taking in to account Harry Derham’s 7 lb claim) to Giles Cross. Now 2 lbs better off with that rival and officially 5 lbs well-in. Very genuine in a finish but has sulked if unable to get a prominent position. Usually jumps well despite his size. A still longer distance could bring Neptune Collonges closer to his best. Outsider with a chance.
5) 2F-0511 CALGARY BAY Taipan – Dante’s Thatch (Phardante) 9-11-06
Camilla Radford / Henrietta Knight / Dominic Elsworth (157-159)
Big brute, one of the best looking horses in training. Races off a mark 12 lbs higher than two starts ago (both handicap wins) raised 6 lbs each time. Jumped well last time out, giving 7 lbs and a 2½ length beating to Shakalakaboomboom, and only 1 lb worse off here. Failed to run to form all 5 attempts at further than 3 miles. Too free in 2010 Gold Cup (3m2½f). Fell at 4th only start beyond that distance in Grand National last year. Sire Taipan not noted for producing stayers. Calgary Bay seems highly unlikely to be suited by the trip especially if the ground turns testing. Raced mainly on good to soft or good. Seems to find more off the bridle than he used to.
6) F-6041UP ALFA BEAT Environment Friend – Belle D’anjou (Saint Cyrien) 8-11-05
Irvin Naylor / John Hanlon IRE / D N Russell (156-)
Weakened late, probably through lack of stamina, 4th in 2011 National Hunt Chase (4m good). Now 6 lbs worse off with winner Chicago Grey despite beaten 15¾ lengths. Never looked threat and Fell 15th in Topham over National fences. Bought and changed stables. First time blinkered, won Kerry National (at 3m a National in name only) for second successive year in September. Alfa Beat was put away afterwards and things haven’t gone right on return. Stumbled and unseated rider without an obstacle in sight. Then soon beaten and pulled up in Bobbyjo Chase in late February. Successful on firm and soft surfaces. Wears blinkers, as he’s done on last 3 starts.
7) F01/35-23 PLANET OF SOUND Kayf Tara – Herald The Dawn (Dubassof) 10-11-05
Charles Lloyd-Baker / Philip Hobbs / Richard Johnson (156-156)
Won Grade 1 Punchestown Gold Cup (3m1f Good) in 2010 in first time tongue tie (worn in every race since). Beat past his best War Of Attrition (levels) 3½ lengths. Reappearance 3¾ lengths 2nd trying to give 12 lbs to Carruthers in Hennessey. Form not worked out, first 6 home not won since. Disappointing 17 lengths behind Nacarat in Racing Plus (3m good). Best two performances over furthest he’s raced. Sire Ascot Gold Cup winner Kayf Tara. Distaff side mainly staying family. Great grand dam Frozen Dawn ran well in Welsh National, sister to Dawn Run’s dam and family of Scottish National winner Brasher. Planet Of Sound’s very best form is on good or good-soft. Can makes mistakes. Tongue tied.
8) 51U/022/2 BLACK APALACHI Old Vic – Hattons Dream (Be My Native) 13-11-03
Gerard Burke / Dessie Hughes IRE / Denis O’Regan (154-)
No teenager has won the Grand National since Sergeant Murphy in 1923. Different race nowadays. Of the last 800 horses in 21 years to run only 25 (3%) were 13 years old. So just one win in that time would turn a bad statistic in to a good one. Dropped to same mark (initially upped 5 lbs) as his 2010 Grand National 5 lengths 2nd on Good, receiving 1 lb from Don’t Push It. Only 3 lbs worse off with Hello Bud some 30 lengths behind. Absent almost 2 years and possible age is catching up with Black Apalachi, but don’t write him off. Encouraging 2nd in Bobbyjo Chase over inadequate 3m1f (heavy) on return. Making up many places in home straight. Has cheek pieces reapplied here, last 5 races with them having form figures of 11U22.
9) 6/3U34-1F DEEP PURPLE Halling – Seal Indigo (Glenstal) 11-11-03
Paul Green / Evan Williams / Jamie Moore (154-152)
Stable third string. Not ideal prep, already struggling when fell in Racing Plus Chase last time out (February). Deep Purple goes well after a break and won London National (3m5½f good-soft) on reappearance. Gave runner-up Do it For Dalkey 26 lbs and 3 length beating off a mark of 149; now 5 lbs higher. Possibly suited by very slow pace on first try over extreme trip. Not certain to stay 4½ miles. Dam winner up to 1½m, sire Halling and Deep Purple himself 1¼m performers on flat. Best on flat tracks and successful on ground no softer than good-soft. Can sulk if getting behind.
10) 31/321-02 JUNIOR Singspeil – For More (Sanglamore) 9-11-02
Middleham Park Racing LI / David Pipe / Tom Scudamore (153-158)
Winner at both Royal Ascot and Cheltenham Festival. Upped 19 lbs since impressive 24 length Kim Muir success. Beaten on the nod first chase start since; trying to give 22lbs to Ikorodu Road in Grimthorpe. Winner franked form by following up at Newbury by 4½ lengths off 3 lb higher mark. Junior now officially 5 lbs well-in. Formerly temperamental before joining David Pipe, application of blinkers and racing prominently. Yet to tackle more than 3m3½f. Record at extreme distances on the flat suggests excellent prospects of staying/improving at this trip if taking to Aintree. Never fallen but tends to flick through the top of his fences. Successful on most types of ground. Blinkered.
11) 10-U3032 CHICAGO GREY Luso – Carrigeen Acer (Lord Americo) 9-10-13
John Earls / Gordon Elliott IRE / P Carberry (150-)
Stable of 2007 Grand National victor Silver Birch. Chicago Grey won 2011 National Hunt Chase (4 miles Good) by 4½ lengths, from subsequent Scottish National winner Beshabar. Holds Alpha Beat (4th) on that form. Still every chance when unseating two out on reappearance (3m½f good-firm). Mark hasn’t dropped for two poor performances in Britain. 30 lengths 3rd to Weird Al in Charlie Hall (3m1f) and never travelling last of 7 in 3m3½f handicap. More encouraging latest start over inadequate 2½m (heavy) at Gowran Park. Staying on 16 lengths 2nd to eased Rubi Light (who gave 4 lbs). Again displaying tendency to make mistakes in closing stages. Return to a marathon trip should suit. Acts on any going. Always held up, which does not suit many Grand National winners. Tongue tied as usual.
12) 3100-015 TATENEN Lost World – Tamaziya (Law Society) 8-10-13
The Stewart Family / Richard Rowe / Andrew Thornton (150-148)
Not always the best of jumpers, likes to be on his own and often taken wide of his field; probably impossible here. Inconsistent, but genuine in a finish and seems an Ascot specialist these days. Goes well for Andrew Thornton. Outclassed 5th of 7 finishers there in Grade 1 Ascot Chase (2m5½f good-soft), 44 lengths behind winner Riverside Theatre. Officially 2 lbs badly in on Saturday. Tatenen won class 2 handicap (same course and going) penultimate start by a head, receiving 6 lbs from Imsingingtheblues. Upped 7 lbs looks harsh. Possibly best on good-soft or soft. Never convinced he truly stays 3 miles in 5 attempts, very doubtful to stay 4½m.
13) F11/-(1)1111 SEABASS Turtle Island – Muscovy Duck (Moscow Society) 9-10-12
Gunners Syndicate / Ted Walsh IRE / Ms Katie Walsh (149-)
Difficult horse to asses. Exceptionally progressive winner of last seven races (including point). Best effort yet last time out; won Grade 2 at Naas over just 2 miles (soft), gave 3 lbs and a length beating to Zaarito. Got back up despite mistakes at final two fences and looking set for third. Will be better over further than 2m so could still be well handicapped despite going up 35 lbs this season. Given impression when staying on over the furthest trip he’s tackled under rules (2¾m) should be suited by 3m+. Dual winner at that distance in points. Questionable whether he’ll stay 4½m. By soft ground miler Turtle Island. Some of his stock get 3 miles (like Bensalem) but few stay much further. Dam Muscovy Duck won over the furthest she raced, 2m3f hurdles. She’s closely related to Moscow Flyer; both by Moscow Society out of a Ducky mare. Moscow Society was a stayer, 2nd in Queens Vase (2m on flat) as a 3 year old. His progeny also include Grand National placed Snowy Morning. Seabass is usually a good jumper (at least is when leading/disputing it), usually a front runner when racing at shorter trips. Ran disappointingly only start on good going. However, although proven in very soft, such conditions may place too much emphasis on stamina. Ruby Walsh has chosen On His Own over Seabass and sister Katie now rides.
14) 000-1122 SHAKALAKABOOMBOOM Anshan – Tia Maria (Supreme Leader) 8-10-12
Liam Breslin / Nicky Henderson / Barry Geraghty (149-149)
Novice hurdle start last time can be ignored. Improved performer over fences. Jumped well to be 7th in Topham. Successful in 24 runner 3m1f (good-soft) handicap at Punchestown Festival. Just got home giving 2 lbs to Beautiful Sound. Won 3m1½f (furthest trip tackled) Cheltenham handicap on good. Going away at line in receipt of 3 lbs from Knockara Beau. Up 4 lbs, good 2½ lengths 2nd receiving 7 lbs to Calgary Bay in Skybet Chase (3m good). Now just 1 lb better off with winner and up another 5 lbs in his mark. Doubtful to stay 4½m. By Anshan; 3rd in 2000 Guineas though sired Grand National 2nd McKelvey, who’s dam’s sire Le Bavard was a much stronger stamina influence than Shakalakaboomboom’s, Supreme Leader. Raced mainly on good and good-soft.
15) 11PB-P1 WEST END ROCKER Grand Plaisir – Slyguff Lord (Lord Americo) 10-10-12
Barry Winfield & Tim Leadbeater / Alan King / Wayne Huchinson (149-149)
Brought down first Becher’s in last year’s race. Won Becher Chase (3m2f) over these fences in December by 22 lengths with 32 back to third. Now off 12 lbs higher mark which may seem lenient. However, it took a longer time per furlong than Ballagriggs National; bottomless ground prevented many horses acting on the ground, probably including second Niche Market. Unraced since that win in early December. Declared for prep run but pulled out due to ground being too firm. Although a dual winner on good ground West End Rocker is probably better with give and goes particularly well on heavy. Also successful in 2011 Totesport Classic Handicap (3m5f) on heavy. One to bear in mind if stamina is at a premium (on soft or heavy). Robert Thornton does not have a good record on him with 0 wins in 12 starts, Wayne Hutchinson 4 from 5.
16) 22-30112 ACCORDING TO PETE Accordian – Magic Bloom (Full Of hope) 11-10-12
Peter Nelson / Malcolm Jefferson / Harry Haynes (149-145)
Form of Kelso (2m6½f good) 2nd last time not worth a pinch of salt; both he and Ballabriggs stayers. Beat him 5¼ lengths and now 11 lbs better off. According To Pete won Rowland Meyrick (3m1f soft) by a length from Helpston, making all and finding plenty under pressure. Then won Peter Marsh (3m heavy) receiving 1 lb from Pearlysteps who he beat 3½ lengths. Done well to win two good handicaps, but neither looked chock full of progressive sorts. Now on a stone higher mark than 3 starts ago. Since the weights came out the Handicapper has reassessed According To Pete and is to carry 4 lbs less in future handicaps. Best form with give in the ground. Races prominently / tracks pace. Proven at 3¾m and should be suited by 4½m.
17) 14P1-B1 ON HIS OWN Presenting – Shuil Na Mhuire (Roselier) 8-10-11
Andrea & Graham Wylie / Willie Mullins IRE / Ruby Walsh (148-)
Like most of his intake from the owners, Willie Mullins improved On His Own to win Thyestes Chase (3m Soft) last time. Mightily impressive, leading a long way out to beat Tullintain 13 lengths giving 2 lbs. That his first completed start for the stable off an Irish Handicap mark of 125, now has an English mark 148 (though it’s a bit like centigrade and fahrenheit, with the Irish mark often around 7 lbs lower than English). Needs to improve again. Didn’t jump fluently in amongst horses held up penultimate start before brought down. Never fallen/unseated but can make mistakes. Successful going left-handed but has occasionally jumped right. Winner on Good as well as very soft. Just 7 starts over obstacles including 6 over fences. Sire Presenting gets plenty of quality stayers including last year’s winner Ballabriggs and Denman. Dam 3m1f winner by very strong stamina influence Roselier. Ruby Walsh has chosen to ride On His Own over Seabass.
18) 2113-1PP ALWAYS RIGHT Right Win – Kemal Brave (Kemal) 10-10-10
John Wade / John Wade / James Reveley (147-147)
Lot better chance than recent form figures suggest, Pulled up last time out in Grand National Trial (3m4f heavy) at Haydock. Going just as well as winner Giles Cross (now same terms) on home turn. 2 lbs worse off with 2nd Neptune Collonges. Mistake and rider soon called it a day 3 out. However, has had a breathing operation since. Only beaten a length in last year’s Scottish National (4m½f good), receiving 4 lbs from winner Beshabar off a mark of 142. Doing by far the best of those held up. Winner on reappearance at 2m6f½f from Skippers Brig (levels). If his operation has done the trick (it often does) would have a chance. Always Right had looked a progressive and accurate jumping stayer who’s effective on soft and good ground.
19) 3F2P/-133 CAPPA BLEU Pistolet Bleu – Cappagale (Strong Gale) 10-10-10
William & Angela Rucker / Evan Williams / Paul Moloney (147-147)
Impressive in 2009 Cheltenham Foxhunter. Possibly amiss 09/10 season, including when falling in Hennessey. First start since March 2010, won 3m handicap in November beating Tamarinbleu (level weights) a head, off a mark of 140, now up another 7 lbs. Also 7 lbs worse off with Killyglen who was 6 lengths away. Both 2nd (off 5 lbs higher mark) and 3rd winners since. Deserves credit for below-par 3rd in Welsh National (3m5f heavy). Best of those held up under possibly softer than ideal; best form so far on good-soft. 22 lengths 3rd giving 16 lbs to Le Beau Bai; has 15 lengths to make up on Giles Cross (winner since) but has 11 lb pull. Had easier race than first two at Ascot last time, mistake final fence while unsighted possibly costing victory behind Massini’s Maguire (who gave 1 lb). Sire Pistolet Bleu placed in Arc, has sired plenty of stayers including Eider and Scottish National winner (and 2nd) Merigo. Grand dam half sister to luckless Cahervillahow; disqualified Whitbread winner, 2nd in Hennessey as well as to Esha Ness in “Void” Grand National. Only 6 chase starts + 4 points Cappa Bleu is inexperienced but unexposed, especially at extreme trips. Tongue tied, as he has been in all starts under rules bar when pulled up.
20) U-345053 RARE BOB Bob Back – Cut Ahead (Kalaglow) 10-10-09
D A Syndicate / Dessie Hughes IRE / Bryan J Cooper (146-)
Inconsistent and often finds little off bridle; though ran well at Aintree in 3m1f Aintree handicap last two seasons. Challenging when unseating 2 out in 2011; placed year before. Fair 6¼ lengths 3rd gave Paddy Pub 15 lbs (+ 3 lb claim) in Leinster National (3m good-soft) last time out. All wins on soft/heavy, just as meritorious efforts when placed on good. Last win in January 2011 when blinkered for the first time. Below form 59 lengths 5th in Becher Chase (3m2f Heavy) giving a stone to winner West End Rocker. In 2009 Rare Bob was 12 lengths 4th in Irish National (3m5f good), gave 4 lbs (+ 3 lb claim) to Niche Marke. Fact he’s not raced as far since suggests connections thought he didn’t stay. Half brother Tiutchev (by weaker stamina influence Soviet Star than Rare Bob’s, Bob Back) better known at shorter distances; but stayed further with age, King George 2nd at 10, won Melling (3m1f) at 11. Dam from family of St Leger winner Cut Above.
21) 12-133F5 ORGANISEDCONFUSION Laveron – Histologie (Quart De Vin) 7-10-08
Grace Dunlop / Arthur Moore IRE / Ms Nina Carberry (145-)
This season’s form at shorter distances can almost be forgotten. 5th last time (2m2f soft). Two hurdle runs prior to falling at first penultimate start. Campaigned with the Grand National in mind to protect his mark. That handicap mark isn’t particularly lenient for what he’s done, but age and only once raced beyond 2m5f make him totally unexposed at extreme trips. Could improve significantly. Improved to win 2011 Irish National (3m5f) off an Irish mark of 132, receiving 7 lbs from Western Charmer. Now 10 lbs worse off with 3rd home Sunnyhillboy having beaten him just 6 lengths. Youngest to win the race since Rhyme ‘N’ Reason who went on to Aintree victory. Sire Laveron won German St Leger on the flat and French Champion Hurdle (3m1½f). Organisedconfusion is from the family of Nupsala (King George) and UcelloII (duel Grande Steeplechase De Paris 3m5f). Grand dam produced Aintree Fox Hunter winner Moncadou. Organisedconfusion has won on soft, that stand out win on good. Held up. Nina Carberry rode Character Building twice in this race, got around both times but gave him plenty to do on first occasion. Could this be a real “National Velvet”?
22) P/P-51423 TREACLE Zaffaran – Current Liability (Caribo) 11-10-08
Bjorn Nielsen / Tom Taaffe IRE / Andrew Lynch (145-)
Seemingly a career best last time, 7½ lengths 3rd to Quel Esprit (levels) in Grade 1 Irish Hennessey (good-soft). But taking out the winner, it looks a poor race of its type. 5½ lengths behind 2nd Roberto Goldback doesn’t sound quite so good. Treacle and winner not run, but all the other five well beaten since. Nearest at the finish and runs as if may improve for an increased test of stamina. Staying on 2nd in Paddy Power Chase penultimate start (3m good-soft) off an Irish Handicap mark of just 128. Didn’t jump well over Mildmay fences, 4th at Aintree in October (3m1f good). Out of form (after 3 pulled up’s) at 3m6f, only try beyond 3m1f in May. Sire Zaffaran a fair stamina influence, responsible for Gold Cup winner Looks Like Trouble. Treacle is effective held up or from the front, on soft or good ground.
23) 216-B430 THE MIDNIGHT CLUB Flemensfirth – Larry’s Peach (Laurence O) 11-10-08
Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE / Paul Townend (145-)
Favourite in last year’s Grand National. Reasonable 6th considering made a few errors, including a serious one at the 3rd and badly hampered 4 out. Finished 27¼ lengths behind Ballabriggs and now a stone better off with winner. Just 2 lbs difference with 4th State Of Play for 11 lengths deficit. The Midnight Club is racing off a 4 lb lower mark than in 2011. Difficult to asses form this term. 100/1, seemed to be given an easy ride in Gold Cup (3m2½f good) after mistake 1st and hampered 2nd fence. 63 lengths behind winner Synchronised and just 20 lbs better off. Two races over inadequate trips of around 2½m and brought down 4th only other starts since Aintree. Ruby Walsh didn’t seem to consider riding him this year, but shouldn’t be written off. Effective on good and heavy ground.
24) 3F/-52PP0 MON MOME Passing Sale Etoile Du Lion (New Target) 12-10-08
Vida Bingham / Venetia Williams / Aidan Coleman (145-140)
Won 2009 Grand National by 12 lengths, receiving 6 lbs from the 2nd Comply Or Die. Had a better chance than 100/1 SP suggested, however the form looks a little suspect. Pace slowed dramatically when both front runners fell at second Bechers, allowing the whole field to bunch up. Mon Mome fell the following year. Flattered 30 lengths 3rd to Imperial Commander in 2010 Gold Cup. Stayed on past beaten rivals who’d taken on the principles. Only form since and again flattered, when 2nd (3m2½f good-soft) beaten 4½ lengths trying to give winner Mostly Bob16 lbs. First two coming from way back. Three poor efforts afterwards and no encouragement last time out, 12th of 14 finishers. Although on a 3 lbs lower mark than when winning this, will be 5 lbs lower still in future handicaps. Goes on good and heavy ground.
25) 0P2F-60 ARBOR SUPREME Supreme Leader – Peter’s Well (Electric) 10-10-07
J P McManus / Jonjo O’Neill / M P Walsh (144-)
Not the best of jumpers, unseated and fell in the last two Grand Nationals for trainer Willie Mulluns. Lucky to get as far as 3 out in 2011 (beaten at time) after several mistakes. Prior to that running was a good 2nd behind The Midnight Club (levels) in Bobbyjo Chase (3m1f heavy). Now 1 lb better off for a length beating. Two poor runs over hurdles only starts this season since transferred to Jonjo O’Neil; unraced since December and has not run well fresh in the past. Is better over fences, but difficult to see him figuring. Sire Supreme Leader doesn’t get many that stay extreme distances, although Arbor Supreme has been successful at 3m6f, the furthest he’s raced away from Aintree. Winner on heavy and good ground. Inconsistent and gives the impression has his own ideas about the game. Tongue tied for the first time.
26) 3F-30P01 SUNNYHILLBOY Old Vic – Sizzle (High Line) 9-10-05
J P McManus / Jonjo O’Neill / Richie McLernon (142-152)
Improved to win Kim Muir (3m1½f good). Beat Becauseicouldntsee 4½ lengths giving 2 lbs, showing turn of foot to win going away. One notable error at top of the hill. One of the best handicapped horses in this field, now officially 10 lbs well-in. Raced mainly around 2½m, bred to get lot further. Sire Old Vic responsible for Grand National winners Comply Or Die and Don’t Push It. Grand dam Cauldron dam of Whitbread winner and National placed Brown Windsor. Sunnyhillboy’s only start beyond 3m1½f a good third in Irish National (3m5f good). Gave 7 lbs to Organisedconfusion, now 10 lbs better off with winner. Possibly best on good or good-soft. Not a natural jumper and sometimes makes mistakes. Held up.
27) F-030341 KILLYGLEN Presenting – Tina Maria (Phardante) 10-10-04
David McCammon / Stuart Crawford IRE / Robbie Power (141-)
Sometimes a weak finisher these days. Clear 3 out in November (3m good-soft) before going down by over 6 lengths; now 7 lbs better off with winner Cappa Bleu. Won uncompetitive 6 finisher conditions chase last time out (3m2f soft) gave 3 lbs and a 5½ lengths beating to Saddlers Storm. Now only 4 lbs worse off with In Compliance who he beat 36½ lengths. Killyglen’s first victory since Mildmay Novices at Aintree in April 2009. Travelled well for a long way in last year’s Grand National. Led at Valentines but just beginning to back pedal when falling 4 out (mistake at previous fence too). Goes in to this year’s race in better form and on a 5 lbs lower mark. Now better off with winner Ballabriggs (15 lbs), 4th State Of Play and 6th The Midnight Club both 1 lb. Successful on soft and good going. Sire Presenting (see On His Own) a good influence of stamina. Dam’s sire Phardante 2nd to Oh So Sharp in St Leger. Killyglen should stay further than 3m2f on breeding, but was also pulled up in 2010 Scottish National. Tongue tied as has been last 2 starts.
28) 2F-4010 QUISCOVER FONTAINE Antarctique – Blanche Fontaine (Oakland) 8-10-04
J P McManus / Willie Mullins IRE / D J Casey (141-)
Good 4th last April in 2011 Irish Grand National (3m5f good) on his only start beyond 2m5f, off an Irish Handicap mark of 142. Now a stone better off with winner Organisedconfusion who beat him 10½ lengths. Also 4 lbs better off with 3rd Sunnyhillboy for 4½ lengths. Ran in 2m hurdles since, successful penultimate start despite the trip (2m good). Quiscover Fontaine probably doesn’t have so much scope for further improvement as those two. Effective on good or heavy going.
29) 4-P13000 THARAWAAT Alhaarth – Sevi’s Choice (Sir Ivor) 7-10-04
Gigginstown House Stud / Gordon Elliott IRE / B T O’Connell (141-)
Winner of 2¾m (Heavy) handicap chase by 7 lengths, giving 8 lbs to Indifference Curve, off an Irish Handicap mark of 133. Upped 8 lbs for that and not been able to repeat the form since, yet his mark hasn’t dropped. Ran no better over hurdles latest start. Front runner or races prominently. Seems inconsistent but for when the mud is flying, last three wins have all come on heavy. However, those conditions will probably put far too great an emphasis on stamina. Stays 3 miles, the longest trip he’s tackled. Sire Alhaarth winner of Dewhurst (7f) and Prix Dollar (1m2f). Although is responsible for Chester Cup winner Admiral on the flat, few of progeny are stayers. Tharawaat already stays further than most jumps horses by Alhaarth. Effective with or without headgear. Tongue tied as he usually is, but blinkers are left off.
30) 2F-63F22 BECAUSEICOULDNTSEE Beneficial – Ath Dara (Duky) 9-10-03
Noel Glynn / Noel Glynn IRE / D J Condon (140-)
Career best effort last time despite setting a slow pace at 3m1½f on good not placing much emphasis on stamina. 4½ lengths 2nd receiving 2 lbs from Sunnyhillboy in Kim Muir (same terms here). Becauseicouldntsee has a bit to make up on the winner, but he’s well handicapped himself. Already proven at 4m, 2nd in 2010 National Hunt Chase. Acts on good and soft ground. Two falls in form figures doesn’t inspire confidence. Only got as far as second fence in last year’s race when not settling; generally jumps better than that. Displayed good technique and only one slight mistake at Cheltenham. Grand National tends to favour those ridden prominently.
31) 144/P3/4- STATE OF PLAY Hernando – Kaprice (Windwurf) 12-10-03
William & Angela Rucker / Evan Williams / Noel Fehily (140-140)
Lightly raced, last 4 starts include 3 Grand Nationals placed efforts, 4th 3rd and 4th again in 2011 off a 2 lbs higher mark than Saturday. Now 12 lbs better off with Ballabriggs for a 16¼ lengths beating. Just 2 lbs worse for 11 lengths back to a possibly below form The Midnight Club in 6th. 1 lb worse with 3 out faller Killyglen. Three Grand Nationals were on good or good-soft. Earlier in career won Charlie Hall on good-firm and Hennessey soft. Although is thought by connections to be ideally suited by less testing conditions these days. Another year on his back and jockey Paul Moloney has got off State Of Play to ride Cappa Bleu for same owner and trainer combination.
32) 2313P20 SWING BILL Grey Risk – Melodie Royale (Garde Royale) 11-10-03
David Johnson / David Pipe / C O’Farrell (140-138)
Proved suited by a step up to 3m½f, winning handicap chase at Cheltenham by 7 lengths from Stewarts House (levels) in November off 134. Placed twice off 141 since but the 11 year old has never won off as high a mark. Below form recently including in Topham, distant 6th when pulled up behind West End Rocker at Aintree. Poor 17th of 21 finishers last time out, 3 lbs worse off with the winner Sunnyhillboy and has 58½ lengths to make up. Been dropped 2 lbs in future handicaps. Swing Bill has been successful on all types of ground but the softer it is the less likely he is to stay. Although dam’s sire Garde Royale is a very good stamina influence, including being responsible for Grand National runner-up Royal Auclair – Few of Swing Bill’s sire Grey Risk (a miler himself)’s progeny stayed further than 3m over obstacles, including Thousand Stars. Wears cheek pieces for the first time since 2007 (3rd).
33) FP-26611 POSTMASTER Dansili – Post Modern (Nureyev) 10-10-02
The Bill & Ben Partnership / Tim Vaughan / Dougie Costello (139-139)
Fell at the first over these fences in Topham last year. First race for 7 months, successful last time out (Marh 27th) in Ludlow 4 finisher Hunter chase (2m4f good-firm). Didn’t take much winning and been reassessed 1 lb lower in future. Gave 6 lbs and a 2 ½ length beating to the poor jumping Bermuda Boy. Won 3m½f (good) handicap on penultimate start, off a mark of 132 (now 7 lbs higher). Receiving 1 lb from Ostland (winner since) and beating him 1¼ lengths. Most form on a sound surface though has won on soft. Furthest Postmaster has raced is 3m½f but is highly unlikely to stay 4½m. Sire and dam’s sire Dansili and Nureyev milers. Dam Post Modern out of the outstanding broodmare Modena. Which makes her a half sister to Irish Champion Stakes winner (Derby placed) Elmaamul and Oaks winner Reams Of Verse. Modena is a half sister to Zaizafon, dam of both Champion miler (including 2000 Guineas) Zafonic and Zamindar, sire of Arc winner Zarkava. Postmaster himself won over just 1m1f on the flat as a 5 year old. One thing the family are not known for is stayers! Tongue Tied as usual.
34) 3/P22-121 GILES CROSS Saddlers Hall – Mystockings (Idiot’s Delight) 10-10-01
KCMS Partnership / Victor Dartnall / Paddy Brennan (138-144)
Met Le Beau Bai twice this season. Firstly in the Welsh National (3m5½f heavy) going much the best two out, but having to settle for 2nd (for second year running) overhauled to be beaten 7 lengths giving 5 lbs. 11 lbs worse off with Cappa Bleu here for beating him 15 lengths. Giles Cross improved to win Grand National Trial (3m4f Heavy) at Haydock last time. With a 7 lbs pull (in receipt of 2 lbs) this time had just over 11 lengths to spare over 3rd Le Beau Bai. Again looked to be travelling well, but only clung on by a neck from the rallying Neptune Collonges. If 2nd jockey’s claim is taken in to account, Giles Cross is now 2 lb worse off with Paul Nicholls grey. Although himself officially 6 lbs well-in and one of the best handicapped horses in the field. Looking the Chepstow winner before failing and scrambling home at Haydock might suggest he’s getting to the end of his (stamina) tether. But all Giles Cross’ 5 victories have come by 2 lengths or less and may idle at sound of the crowd. Also 2nd 5 times and never out of the first 3 in 12 completed starts, so genuine enough. Might be wise to either back him each way or put a saver in the betting in running market at very short odds. Earlier won Southern National (3m4f soft) at Fontwell off a mark of 132 (now 138), gave a stone and 1¾ lengths beating to Rey Nacarado (winner on next start off 2 lbs higher). Giles Cross was one of just 3 to finish of 12 runners (2nd) in 2011 Eider (4m1f heavy) in near unraceable ground. And last of only 3 finishers in 18 runner Midlands Grand National (4m1½f heavy). So stays well. Developed an exceptional jumping technique (at least when racing prominently) over normal fences, enabling Giles Cross to often take lengths off rivals. Usual rider Dennis O’Regan can’t do the weight so Paddy Brennan takes over. Has won on good-soft, but goes particularly well on soft/heavy.
35) 21/10P-16 MIDNIGHT HAZE Midnight Legend – Gypsy Haze (Romany Rye) 10-10-00
Kim Bailey Racing Partnership / Kim Bailey / Sean Quinlan (137-137)
From the yard of Grand National winning trainer Kim Bailey. Like Mr Frisk, Midnight Haze usually races prominently, but didn’t do so at Cheltenham. Still in with a chance on the turn for home in the Cross Country Chase (3m7f good-firm), after down on his nose at the 21st fence. 12½ lengths 6th receiving 2 lbs from winner Balthazar King. Always up there with the pace penultimate start in Ludlow 3m1½f (soft) chase off a 9 lbs lower mark than Saturday. Giving 3 lbs and an 11 length beating to Inside Dealer. Setting a strong pace which had many in trouble (only 4 of 9 finished). Should be suited by the increased test of stamina. Winner on soft and good (probably good-firm) ground.
36) 044B-2(1)(1)0 VIC VENTURI Old Vic – Carmen Lady (Torus) 12-10-00
Seamus Dunne / Dessie Hughes IRE / Harry Skelton (137-)
“Unlucky” in the last two Nationals, unseated when hampered 20th in 2010, beaten at the time and brought down 2nd fence 2011. Won 8 runner, 5 finisher 2009 Becher Chase (3m2f soft) giving 20 lbs and beating Keenan’s Future (4th in today’s Fox Hunter) 5 lengths, off a mark of 148. Reappearance 2nd in what turned out to be a very poor grade 1 (Kauto Star pulled up) Punchestown Gold Cup (3m1f good) in May 2011; 11 lengths behind Follow The Plan (levels). Winner of two points afterwards. Well below form last time out in February, 12th of 13 finishers in 3m hunter chase (good-soft). Goes on soft and good going. By Old Vic, sire of Grand National winners Comply Or Die and Don’t Push It and (from this yard) runner-up Black Apalachi. Dam’s sire Torus responsible for Gold Cup winner Mr Mulligan. Should stay trip on breeding, but disappointed both starts in Irish National. Wears cheek pieces as usually does under rules.
37) 431U0-P3 IN COMPLIANCE Old Vic – Lady Bellingham (Montelimar) 12-10-00
Dessie Hughes / Dessie Hughes IRE / N P Madden (137-)
One time Grade 1 chaser, winner of 2006 John Durkan (2m4f heavy) by 2 ½ lengths from War Of Attrition (levels). Been on the downgrade for some time. Furthest he’s won is 2¾m and didn’t stay in last year’s National when 13th of 19 finishers, off a 4 lb higher mark than on Saturday. Also below form 6th, beaten 22 lengths in 2010 Topham. No form in two starts this season. Slowly away and pulled up in first of them. Not much better last time out, poor 3rd beaten 36½ lengths by Killyglen in 3m2f uncompetitive conditions chase (soft) and now only 4 lbs better off. Possibly best these days in small fields with give in the ground. Last win in February 2011, made all in 5 finisher Cashel Chase when blinkered for the first time. Won by 18 lengths only because the1\2 fav Quiscover Fontaine fell when gaining ground 2 out. Possibly of doubtful temperament these days. Is not blinkered.
38) 00-143P5 VIKING BLOND Varese – Sweet Jaune (Le Nain Jaune) 7-10-00
Caroline Mould / Nigel Twiston-Davies / Brian Hughes (137-135)
Stable won Grand National with Earth Summit and Bindaree. Viking Blond jumps well for a novice with only 5 chase starts. 15 lengths 3rd getting 3 lbs from winner Grands Crus in Newbury Grade 2 in November. Disappointed in both starts since. Didn’t look to be enjoying being crowded once losing a prominent position, pulled up in Welsh National (3m5½f Heavy). Last of 5 finishers last time out at Ascot, has 45 lengths to make up on 3rd Cappa Bleu and now only 2 lbs better off. Been dropped 2 lbs in future handicaps. Already stays further than most by sire Varese, but Viking Blond is lazy so is not typical. Dam’s sire Le Nain Jaune is responsible for Hennessey (3m2f) winner on disqualification Gingembre. Viking Blond stays 3m3f and should stay further if his mind lets him. Wears blinkers as usual.
39) PP-5U654 HELLO BUD Jurado – Orchestral Sport (Orchestra) 14-10-00
Seamus Murphy / Nigel Twiston-Davies / Sam Twiston-Davies (137-127)
Veteran out and out stayer. Did not win his first chase (outside points) until the age of 9. Unusually showed improved form at 11 to win 2009 Scottish National (4m½f good). Successful at 12 over National fences in 2010 Becher Chase (3m2f soft) off the same mark as Ayr of 133. Also finished 5th, receiving 13 lbs to Don’t Push It in 2010 Grand National. Now only 3 lbs better off with 2nd Black Apalachi for 30 lengths deficit. Handicapper seemingly bent over backwards to get this Aintree specialist in to the race. Given a mark 10 lbs more than he’d get in a normal handicap. Probably in process of running his best race this season; still travelling and jumping well (as usual) in front when taking the Canal Turn too tightly and unseating. Sometimes doesn’t find as much as expected under pressure. Fair effort penultimate start in Classic Chase (3m5f good-soft), possibly flattered able to dictate, 7 lengths 5th receiving 23 lbs from winner Hey Big Spender. Disappointing 4th last time out when expected by connections to run well. Beaten 33 lengths giving 10 lbs to Marufo, off a 7 lbs lower mark than Saturday. Possible Hello Bud is finally showing his age. Effective on soft and good-firm. Tongue tied as usual.
40) 315045 NEPTUNE EQUESTER Sovereign Water – All Things Nice (Sweet Monday) 9-10-00
Koo’s Racing Club / Brian Ellison / Felix De Giles (132-131)
Proved suited by the step up to 3m4f (good-soft) in November, off a mark 8 lbs including 5lbs out of the handicap lower than Saturday. Coming through from the back to win by 2 lengths, giving 11 lbs to Morning Moment. Neptune Equester has lost his form since, only beaten two of those to finish in his last 3 starts. Last last time out in March. Those backing him are relying on these unique fences bringing about a return to form. Goes on good and heavy ground.
Reserve) 32-3P40 ANY CURRENCY 9-10-00 (9-08)
Cash Is King / Martin Keighley (131-131)
Reserve) 4202650 OUR ISLAND 7-10-00 (9-07)
David Fox / Tim Vaughan (130-130)
Reserve) 31P/-FP33 ABBEYBRANEY 11-10-00 (9-05)
Sue Johnson / George Bewley (128-128)
Reserve) 5-341064 SMOKING ACES 8-10-00 (9-05)
J P McManus / Tom Taaffe IRE (128-)
GOING CHANGED ON TUESDAY MORNING – BUT MAY BE AMENDED AGAIN AFTER DRY DAY
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NOW SOLD OUT AT AINTREE – EXCEPT FOR LIMITED AVAILABILITY IN RESTAURANTS
NEW ORDER FOR THE JOHN SMITH’S GRAND NATIONAL
PERFECT PRACTICE FOR GILES CROSS
FIRST HORSE TO ARRIVE AT AINTREE
The official going at Aintree was changed this morning (8.45am, Tuesday, April 10) to:
Grand National Course - Soft (from soft, good to soft in places)
Mildmay Course – Chase & Hurdle Course - Soft, Good to Soft in places (from good to soft, soft in places)
This follows 15 millimetres of rain yesterday.
There was a very small amount of rain early today (0.2 millimetres) but it has been dry since, with the sun coming out from late morning, so another change of the going descriptions is likely later on this afternoon.
The forecast is as follows
Today - bright day with some sunny spells, possible showers, some heavy – 10C.
Wednesday - dry start with possible showers, some heavy later (up to 3mm might fall) – 10C.
Thursday - remaining unsettled, possible showers (up to 2mm might fall) – 9C
Friday - sunny spells and possible showers (up to 2mm might fall) – 8C
Saturday - possible showers (up to 2mm might fall) – 8C
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NOW SOLD OUT AT AINTREE – EXCEPT FOR LIMITED AVAILABILITY IN RESTAURANTS
The second and third days of the John Smith’s Grand National meeting, Friday (Ladies’ Day – April 13) and Saturday (John Smith’s Grand National Day – April 14), are sold out at Aintree – except for limited availability in restaurants. It is the earliest that both these days have sold out.
Tickets and badges are still available for the opening day of the John Smith’s Grand National meeting – Liverpool Day, Thursday, April 12.
NEW ORDER FOR THE JOHN SMITH’S GRAND NATIONAL
The new handicap ratings, issued today by the British Horseracing Authority Head of Handicapping Phil Smith, mean there is a new numbering order for the five-day confirmations of the John Smith’s Grand National (see the bottom of this release for full details).
This has an impact on sweepstakes and if any of the remaining 47 horses has to drop out when the runners are declared by 10am on Thursday for Saturday’s race. The John Smith’s Grand National field is limited to 40 runners.
There are five horses grouped together on 10st and, if the top 40 all go forward on Thursday, the unlucky one of that quintet not to get a run will be Hello Bud who is now 41st in the pecking order.
Numbering at the bottom of the handicap
37 Midnight Haze
38 Vic Venturi
39 In Compliance
40 Viking Blond
41 Hello Bud
42 Neptune Equester
43 Any Currency
44 Our Island
46 Smoking Aces
PERFECT PRACTICE FOR GILES CROSS
Leading John Smith’s Grand National candidate Giles Cross had his first taste of Grand National-style fences this morning (Tuesday, April10) in a schooling session under his big-race jockey Paddy Brennan.
The 10-year-old’s trainer Victor Dartnall liked what he saw at his Devon yard and his morning’s satisfaction was completed by news of soft going at Aintree.
“The horse is in great form,” said Dartnall. “And we were delighted with him this morning. We’ve rigged up a couple of National lookalike fences and he jumped them beautifully. Paddy was very pleased with what he felt and we’re all looking forward to Saturday.”
Brennan, who had not ridden Giles Cross before, gets the chance to partner him in the big race because regular rider Denis O’Regan would struggle to do the weight of 10st 1lb. “He’s not a complicated ride,” added Dartnall.
Giles Cross, bred by his owner Kay Birchenhough, will be Dartnall’s first John Smith’s Grand National runner and, with the ground on the National course now soft after 15 millimetres of rain yesterday and with showery weather set to continue, is likely to get his preferred underfoot conditions.
“The softer the better for him,” added Dartnall. “He’s a heavy-ground horse, which is one reason why he’s run only 16 times in his life; he doesn’t get his conditions that often. If he gets his ground, he’ll run well. He travels, he jumps, he stays, he’s straightforward and very genuine.”
FIRST HORSE TO ARRIVE AT AINTREE
The early bird catches the worm or so they say, and the early bird at Aintree this year is the Oliver McKiernan-trained Follow The Plan, who arrived at the racecourse stables at 4am today (Tuesday, April 10) having travelled over from Rathcoole, Co Dublin on the evening tide.
Follow The Plan is entered in the Grade One Betfred Bowl on Liverpool Day, the first day of the 2012 John Smiths Grand National meeting, with Tom Doyle booked to take the ride in the £150,000 chase which is run over three miles and a furlong of the Mildmay Course.
McKiernan said of his charge: “Aintree is a big galloping track with fences which suit him well and he has come on for his last two outings, though it is quite a hot race on Thursday.
“We ran him in the race last year and it worked out well – he was third to Nacarat and he came out of it well.
“This would be half a prep for the Punchestown Gold Cup (April 25), which he won last year – it is hard to find a suitable race for him Ireland at the moment.”
UPDATED IN ORDER OF LATEST HANDICAP RATINGS
2012 JOHN SMITH’S GRAND NATIONAL
Class 1, Grade 3, £975,000 total prize fund. 4.15pm, Aintree, Saturday, April 14, 2012, four miles and four furlongs. For seven-year-olds and upwards who, up to and including March 20, 2012, have been placed first, second, third or fourth in a chase of three miles or more and which are allotted a rating of 120 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 12, 2012. Horses who are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at closing may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible for a weight providing the handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances up to and including February 12 would merit a minimum rating of 120. To qualify, horses must have run at least three times in chases run under the Rules of Racing of the same Recognised Racing Authority up to and including February 12, 2012. At the handicapper’s discretion, such horses may be allocated a rating. The decision of the BHA Head of Handicapping shall be final. The British Horseracing Authority has modified Rule (F)42.2.1 for the purposes of this race, such that racecourse performances up to and including Sunday, February 12, may be taken into account. A novice horse shall only be qualified to run in this race if it has run a minimum of three times in chases in Great Britain, Ireland or France in accordance with Rule (F)42.5. Highest weight 11st 10lb – no penalties after publication of the weights. Entries closed January 31, entries revealed February 1 (82 entries), weights revealed February 14, first scratchings deadline February 28 (77 remained), second scratchings deadline March 20 (59 remained). Five-day confirmation stage April 9 (48 remain), Tuesday, April 10 (47 go forward) final declaration stage 10.00am, April 12. Maximum field size of 40, plus four reserves. Reserves have to be utilised by 9am on Friday, April 13. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Sunday, April 8.
Form Horse Age/Weight Owner Trainer/Probable Jockey
1)13-P0311 SYNCHRONISED (IRE) 9-11-10 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill/A P McCoy
2)11/1121-4 BALLABRIGGS (IRE) 11-11-09 Trevor Hemmings Donald McCain/Jason Maguire
3)1/10P-13P WEIRD AL (IRE) 9-11-08 Brannon, Dennis, Dick, Holden Donald McCain/Timmy Murphy
4)106-P422 NEPTUNE COLLONGES (FR) 11-11-06 John Hales Paul Nicholls/Daryl Jacob
5)2F-0511 CALGARY BAY (IRE) 9-11-06 Camilla Radford Henrietta Knight/Dominic Elsworth
6)F-6041UP ALFA BEAT (IRE) 8-11-05 Irvin Naylor John Hanlon IRE/ Davy Russell
7)F01/35-23 PLANET OF SOUND 10-11-05 Charles Lloyd-Baker Philip Hobbs/ Richard Johnson
8)51U/022/2 BLACK APALACHI (IRE) 13-11-03 Teresa Burke Dessie Hughes IRE/Denis O’Regan
9)6/3U34-1F DEEP PURPLE 11-11-03 Paul Green Evan Williams/Jamie Moore
10)131/321-02 JUNIOR 9-11-02 Middleham Park Racing LI David Pipe/Tom Scudamore
11)10-U3032 CHICAGO GREY (IRE) 9-10-13 John Earls Gordon Elliott IRE/Paul Carberry
12)3100-015 TATENEN (FR) 8-10-13 The Stewart Family Richard Rowe/Andrew Thornton
13)F11/-1111 SEABASS (IRE) 9-10-12 Gunners Syndicate Ted Walsh IRE/Ms Katie Walsh
14)000-1122 SHAKALAKABOOMBOOM (IRE) 8-10-12 Liam Breslin Nicky Henderson/Barry Geraghty
15)11PB-P1 WEST END ROCKER (IRE) 10-10-12 Barry Winfield & Tim Leadbeater Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson
16)22-30112 ACCORDING TO PETE 11-10-12 Peter Nelson Malcolm Jefferson/Harry Haynes
17)14P1-B1 ON HIS OWN (IRE) 8-10-11 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE/Ruby Walsh
18)2113-1PP ALWAYS RIGHT (IRE) 10-10-10 John Wade John Wade/James Reveley
19)3F2P/-133 CAPPA BLEU (IRE) 10-10-10 William & Angela Rucker Evan Williams/Paul Moloney
20)PU-345053 RARE BOB (IRE) 10-10-09 D A Syndicate Dessie Hughes IRE/Bryan Cooper
21)12-133F5 ORGANISEDCONFUSION (IRE) 7-10-08 Grace Dunlop Arthur Moore IRE/Miss Nina Carberry
22)P/P-51423 TREACLE (IRE) 11-10-08 Bjorn Nielsen Tom Taaffe IRE/Andrew Lynch
23)3/216-B430 THE MIDNIGHT CLUB (IRE) 11-10-08 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
24)3F/-52PP0 MON MOME (FR) 12-10-08 Vida Bingham Venetia Williams/Aidan Coleman
25)0P2F-60 ARBOR SUPREME (IRE) 10-10-07 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
26)03F-30P01 SUNNYHILLBOY (IRE) 9-10-05 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill/Richie McLernon
27)F-030341 KILLYGLEN (IRE) 10-10-04 David McCammon Stuart Crawford IRE/Robert Power
28)2F-4010 QUISCOVER FONTAINE (FR) 8-10-04 J P McManus Willie Mullins IRE/David Casey
29)4-P13000 THARAWAAT (IRE) 7-10-04 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
30)42F-63F22 BECAUSEICOULDNTSEE (IRE) 9-10-03 Noel Glynn Noel Glynn IRE
31)P-0P0113 LE BEAU BAI (FR) 9-10-03 Glass Half Full Richard Lee
32)144/P3/4- STATE OF PLAY 12-10-03 William & Angela Rucker Evan Williams/Noel Fehily
33)041-04400 ALWAYS WAINING (IRE) 11-10-03 Mr & Mrs Peter Douglas Peter Bowen/Tom O’Brien
34)2313P20 SWING BILL (FR) 11-10-03 David Johnson David Pipe/Conor O’Farrell
35)FP-26611 POSTMASTER 10-10-02 The Bill & Ben Partnership Tim Vaughan
36)3/P22-121 GILES CROSS (IRE) 10-10-01 KCMS Partnership Victor Dartnall/Paddy Brennan
37)21/10P-16 MIDNIGHT HAZE 10-10-00 Kim Bailey Racing Partnership Kim Bailey/Sean Quinlan
38)0044B-20 VIC VENTURI (IRE) 12-10-00 Seamus Dunne Dessie Hughes IRE/Harry Skelton
39)431U0-P3 IN COMPLIANCE (IRE) 12-10-00 Dessie Hughes Dessie Hughes IRE/Niall Madden
40)00-143P5 VIKING BLOND (FR) 7-10-00 Caroline Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies
41)PP-5U654 HELLO BUD (IRE) 14-10-00 Seamus Murphy Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies
42)0-315045 NEPTUNE EQUESTER 9-9-09 Koo’s Racing Club Brian Ellison
43)32-3P40 ANY CURRENCY (IRE) 9-9-08 Cash Is King Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley
44)0-4202650 OUR ISLAND (IRE) 7-9-07 David Fox Tim Vaughan
45)31P/-FP33 ABBEYBRANEY (IRE) 11-9-05 Sue Johnson George Bewley/Ryan Mania
46)05-341064 SMOKING ACES (IRE) 8-9-05 J P McManus Tom Taaffe IRE
47)12-20P30 BALLYVESEY (IRE) 7-9-02 Roddy Owen & Paul Fullagar Peter Bowen
47 still going forward
NR SADDLERS STORM (IRE) 10-9-05 R T & J McLoughlin/Billy Moffett Tony Martin IRE (ran yesterday & cannot now take part)
DARTNALL HOPING GILES CROSS GETS HIS GROUND AT AINTREE
Victor Dartnall is hoping for a wet spell as he prepares Giles Cross for the John Smith’s Grand National, run over four and a half miles and 30 fences at Aintree on Saturday, April 14.
The 10-year-old features among 77 horses going forward for the £975,000 contest following the first scratchings deadline on February 28, details of which are announced today.
The 10-year-old was last seen when winning the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park over three and a half miles on February 18, having previously finished a game second to Le Beau Bai in the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow on December 27. Giles Cross has been allotted 10st 1lb for the Aintree spectacular and, after his victory 11 days ago, is 6lb “well in” on handicap ratings.
North Devon-based Dartnall said: “It all depends on the ground for Giles Cross. He will be in the Irish Grand National as well, but if it looked like it was going to come up soft at Aintree we would be very tempted.
“Good to soft ground would probably be all right, though if we had a wet time we will definitely be there.
“I was very pleased with his effort at Haydock, they (the handicappers) have given him a 6lb rise, but he is in the John Smith’s Grand National off his old mark which makes it even more tempting to run at Aintree.
“He didn’t really have a hard race at Haydock because he did everything on the bridle, and Denis O’Regan gave him a very confident ride.
“I think Giles Cross would be an ideal type for the John Smith’s Grand National. He jumps very well and like I said, if the ground came right for him, I would love really to go there.”
Giles Cross is currently a 20/1 chance with Betfred, the official betting partner of the John Smith’s Grand National meeting.
Last weekend featured a number of fancied John Smith’s Grand National contenders putting their credentials on the line, with the most impressive performance coming from Prince De Beauchene in the Grade Two Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse. The nine-year-old won comfortably over the three miles, one furlong trip and is following a well trodden path after the Willie Mullins trained Hedgehunter to capture the Bobbyjo Chase and John Smith’s Grand National in the same season in 2005. As a result Prince De Beauchene is now 9/1 clear favourite with Betfred.
The Fairyhouse feature also saw a pleasing return to the racecourse from Black Apalachi, who finished second to Don’t Push It in the 2010 John Smith’s Grand National, but he had not been seen on a racecourse since. However, the 13-year-old ran on well from the rear to take second, while stable companion Rare Bob faded to finish fifth and fellow John Smith’s Grand National hope Alfa Beat was pulled up before the last.
In the Grade Three Racing Plus Chase over three miles at Kempton Park, Hector’s Choice qualified for Britain’s richest jump race by finishing second ahead of Hennessy runner-up Planet Of Sound.
Ted Walsh, who won the John Smith’s Grand National in 2000 with Papillon, saddled Seabass to a sixth straight success under Rules on Sunday in the Grade Two Paddypower.com Chase at Naas over two miles. The nine-year-old is now 16/1 for Aintree glory with Betfred.
Last season’s John Smith’s Grand National hero Ballabriggs will be seen for the first time since in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster or the Premier Chase at Kelso this weekend, where he is likely to faceAccording To Pete and Abbreybraney who also hold John Smith’s Grand National ambitions. Long time ante-post favourite Junior has also been given an entry in the in the Grimthorpe Chase, but the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup in just over a fortnight is also an option.
At the first scratchings deadline all the leading contenders have stood their ground including top-weightSynchronised, Betfred Becher Chase victor West End Rocker, Sky Bet Chase winner Calgary Bay, and Nicky Henderson’s Burton Port, who returned from a long absence to finish a promising second to Long Run in the Grade Two Denman Chase at Newbury on February 17.
The next scratchings deadline for the John Smith’s Grand National is on Tuesday, March 20.
The 2012 John Smith’s Grand National meeting runs from April 12 to 14 and showcases top-class racing on each day.
Tickets and hospitality packages are still available. Visit www.aintree.co.uk for more details or call 0844 579 3001.
John Smith’s Grand National – Betfred bet: 9/1 Prince De Beauchene, 14/1 Junior, 16/1 Ballabriggs, Burton Port, Seabass, Synchronised, West End Rocker, 20/1 Cappa Bleu, Chicago Grey, Giles Cross, Midnight Chase, Neptune Collonges, On His Own, Quel Esprit, Roberto Goldback, Treacle, 25/1 Apt Approach, Calgary Bay, Deep Purple, Hold On Julio, Massini’s Maguire, Planet Of Sound, Roulez Cool, Shakalakaboomboom, The Midnight Club, 33/1 According To Pete, Alfa Beat, Always Right, Always Waining, Backstage, Becauseicouldntsee, Hector’s Choice, Killyglen, Le Beau Bai, Niche Market, Organisedconfusion, Pearlysteps, Quantitatitveeasing, Quiscover Fontaine, State Of Play, Stewarts House, Sunnyhillboy, Viking Blond, Weird Al, 40/1 Arbor Supreme, Ballyvesey, Fair Along, Mon Mome, Postmaster, Rare Bob, Some Target, Tatenen, The Package, Uncle Junior, Vic Venturi, 50/1 Another Palm, Any Currency, Black Apalachi, Hello Bud, Midnight Haze, Northern Alliance, Our Island, Scotsirish, Shakervilz, Swing Bill, Tartak, Tharawaat, Wymott, 66/1 Crescent Island, In Compliance, Psycho, Saddlers Storm, Schindler’s Gold, 100/1 Abbeybraney, King Fontaine, Minella Theatre, Neptune Equester, Smoking Aces
THE 2012 JOHN SMITH’S GRAND NATIONAL
Class 1, Grade 3, £975,000 total prize fund. 4.15pm, Aintree, Saturday, April 14, 2012, four miles and four furlongs. For seven-year-olds and upwards who, up to and including March 20, 2012, have been placed first, second, third or fourth in a chase of three miles or more and which are allotted a rating of 120 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 12, 2012. Horses who are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at closing may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible for a weight providing the handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances up to and including February 12 would merit a minimum rating of 120. To qualify, horses must have run at least three times in chases run under the Rules of Racing of the same Recognised Racing Authority up to and including February 12, 2012. At the handicapper’s discretion, such horses may be allocated a rating. The decision of the BHA Head of Handicapping shall be final. The British Horseracing Authority has modified Rule (F)42.2.1 for the purposes of this race, such that racecourse performances up to and including Sunday, February 12, may be taken into account. A novice horse shall only be qualified to run in this race if it has run a minimum of three times in chases in Great Britain, Ireland or France in accordance with Rule (F)42.5. Highest weight 11st 10lb – no penalties after publication of the weights. Entries closed January 31, entries revealed February 1 (82 entries), weights revealed February 14, first scratchings deadline February 28 (77 remain), second scratchings deadline March 20. Five-day confirmation stage April 9, final declaration stage 10.00am, April 12. Maximum field size of 40, plus four reserves. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Monday, February 27.
Form Horse Age/Wgt Owner Trainer
1) 13-P031 SYNCHRONISED (IRE) 9-11-10 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
2) 11/1121- BALLABRIGGS (IRE) 11-11-09 Trevor Hemmings Donald McCain
3) 115-F31 MIDNIGHT CHASE 10-11-08 Lady Clarke Neil Mulholland
4) 1/10P-13 WEIRD AL (IRE) 9-11-08 Brannon, Dennis, Dick, Holden Donald McCain
5) 11121/2-2 BURTON PORT (IRE) 8-11-07 Trevor Hemmings Nicky Henderson
6) FF-B111 QUEL ESPRIT (FR) 8-11-07 Red Barn Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
7) 2F-0511 CALGARY BAY (IRE) 9-11-06 Camilla Radford Henrietta Knight
8) 106-P422 NEPTUNE COLLONGES (FR) 11-11-06 John Hales Paul Nicholls
9) F-6041UP ALFA BEAT (IRE) 8-11-05 Irvin Naylor John Hanlon IRE
10) F01/35-23 PLANET OF SOUND 10-11-05 Charles Lloyd-Baker Philip Hobbs
11) 1U30432 ROBERTO GOLDBACK (IRE) 10-11-04 Seamus Dunne Dessie Hughes IRE
12) 51U/022/2 BLACK APALACHI (IRE) 13-11-03 Teresa Burke Dessie Hughes IRE
13) 6/3U34-1F DEEP PURPLE 11-11-03 Paul Green Evan Williams
14) 131/321-0 JUNIOR 9-11-02 Middleham Park Racing LI David Pipe
15) 112-021 QUANTITATIVEEASING (IRE) 7-11-02 J P McManus Nicky Henderson
16) 3631441 SCOTSIRISH (IRE) 11-11-02 Double R Stables Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
17) 04-5060 TARTAK (FR) 9-11-02 Power Panels Electrical Systems Ltd Tim Vaughan
18) 2-FU1113 APT APPROACH (IRE) 9-11-01 Greenstar Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
19) 0F2224U PSYCHO (IRE) 11-11-00 McClure Family Syndicate Tony Martin IRE
20) 10-U3032 CHICAGO GREY (IRE) 9-10-13 John Earls Gordon Elliott IRE
21) 3100-015 TATENEN (FR) 8-10-13 The Stewart Family Richard Rowe
22) 22-3011 ACCORDING TO PETE 11-10-12 Peter Nelson Malcolm Jefferson
23) F11/-1111 SEABASS (IRE) 9-10-12 Gunners Syndicate Ted Walsh IRE
24) 000-112 SHAKALAKABOOMBOOM (IRE) 8-10-12 Liam Breslin Nicky Henderson
25) 11PB-P1 WEST END ROCKER (IRE) 10-10-12 Barry Winfield & Tim Leadbeater Alan King
26) 1P-13232 HECTOR’S CHOICE (FR) 8-10-11 James and Jean Potter Richard Lee
27) 235/3/1-P1 MASSINI’S MAGUIRE (IRE) 11-10-11 Alan Peterson David Pipe
28) 14P1-B1 ON HIS OWN (IRE) 8-10-11 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
29) 2113-1PP ALWAYS RIGHT (IRE) 10-10-10 John Wade John Wade
30) 3F2P/-133 CAPPA BLEU (IRE) 10-10-10 William & Angela Rucker Evan Williams
31) 5U-P20PP CRESCENT ISLAND (IRE) 9-10-09 Sarah Bays Jill Scott Sarah MacEchern Nigel Twiston-Davies
32) PU-34505 RARE BOB (IRE) 10-10-09 D A Syndicate Dessie Hughes IRE
33) 63F/-52PP MON MOME (FR) 12-10-08 Vida Bingham Venetia Williams
34) 12-133F ORGANISEDCONFUSION (IRE) 7-10-08 Grace Dunlop Arthur Moore IRE
35) 3/216-B43 THE MIDNIGHT CLUB (IRE) 11-10-08 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
36) P/P-51423 TREACLE (IRE) 11-10-08 Bjorn Nielsen Tom Taaffe IRE
37) 0P2F-60 ARBOR SUPREME (IRE) 10-10-07 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
38) PP//1-11 HOLD ON JULIO (IRE) 9-10-07 Mr & Mrs F Bell, N Farrell, A Marsh Alan King
39) 2130-F2P PEARLYSTEPS 9-10-06 The Glazeley Partnership Henry Daly
40) U5351-51 PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE (FR) 9-10-06 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
41) F505-02 NICHE MARKET (IRE) 11-10-05 Graham Regan Paul Nicholls
42) //U1/2B/1- ROULEZ COOL 9-10-05 Robert Waley-Cohen Robert Waley-Cohen
43) P0-5121 STEWARTS HOUSE (IRE) 10-10-05 Double Trouble Partnership Tim Vaughan
44) 03F-30P0 SUNNYHILLBOY (IRE) 9-10-05 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
45) 140310 UNCLE JUNIOR (IRE) 11-10-05 Mrs M McMahon Willie Mullins IRE
46) 4-U2634 FAIR ALONG (GER) 10-10-04 Alan Peterson Philip Hobbs
47) F-03034 KILLYGLEN (IRE) 10-10-04 David McCammon Stuart Crawford IRE
48) 2F-4010 QUISCOVER FONTAINE (FR) 8-10-04 J P McManus Willie Mullins IRE
49) 4-P13000 THARAWAAT (IRE) 7-10-04 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
50) 041-044 ALWAYS WAINING (IRE) 11-10-03 Mr & Mrs Peter Douglas Peter Bowen
51) 42F-63F2 BECAUSEICOULDNTSEE (IRE) 9-10-03 Noel Glynn Noel Glynn IRE
52) P-0P0113 LE BEAU BAI (FR) 9-10-03 Glass Half Full Richard Lee
53) 144/P3/4- STATE OF PLAY 12-10-03 William & Angela Rucker Evan Williams
54) 2313P2 SWING BILL (FR) 11-10-03 David Johnson David Pipe
55) FP-2661 POSTMASTER 10-10-02 The Bill & Ben Partnership Tim Vaughan
56) 30/-003P SHAKERVILZ (FR) 9-10-02 Jackie Mullins Willie Mullins IRE
57) 312U5/5- THE PACKAGE 9-10-02 David Johnson David Pipe
58) 1P-6P60 WYMOTT (IRE) 8-10-02 Trevor Hemmings Donald McCain
59) P/5000-P BACKSTAGE (FR) 10-10-01 MPR & Capranny Syndicate Gordon Elliott IRE
60) 3/P22-121 GILES CROSS (IRE) 10-10-01 KCMS Partnership Victor Dartnall
61) PP-5U65 HELLO BUD (IRE) 14-10-00 Seamus Murphy Nigel Twiston-Davies
62) 431U0-P IN COMPLIANCE (IRE) 12-10-00 Dessie Hughes Dessie Hughes IRE
63) 21/10P-1 MIDNIGHT HAZE 10-10-00 Kim Bailey Racing Partnership Kim Bailey
64) 0044B-20 VIC VENTURI (IRE) 12-10-00 Seamus Dunne Dessie Hughes IRE
65) 00-143P5 VIKING BLOND (FR) 7-10-00 Caroline Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies
66) PP24U64 SOME TARGET (IRE) 8-9-10 Captain Conflict Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
67) 0-31504 NEPTUNE EQUESTER 9-9-09 Koo’s Racing Club Brian Ellison
68) 32-3P40 ANY CURRENCY (IRE) 9-9-08 Cash Is King Martin Keighley
69) 0-420265 OUR ISLAND (IRE) 7-9-07 David Fox Tim Vaughan
70) 11PPP0 SCHINDLER’S GOLD (IRE) 10-9-07 Dr Richard & Laura Newland Dr Richard Newland
71) 31P/-FP3 ABBEYBRANEY (IRE) 11-9-05 Sue Johnson George Bewley
72) 660-P42 SADDLERS STORM (IRE) 10-9-05 R T & J McLoughlin/Billy Moffett Tony Martin IRE
73) 05-34106 SMOKING ACES (IRE) 8-9-05 J P McManus Tom Taaffe IRE
74) 50-PP0FF KING FONTAINE (IRE) 9-9-04 Trevor Hemmings Malcolm Jefferson
74) 6-12026 ANOTHER PALM (IRE) 7-9-03 M J M Racing Syndicate Noel Meade IRE
76) 12-20P30 BALLYVESEY (IRE) 7-9-02 Roddy Owen & Paul Fullagar Peter Bowen
77) 0P3-5U20 MINELLA THEATRE (IRE) 9-9-00 Middleham Park Racing XXIV & Dan Gilbert Lawney Hill
77 entries remain after February 28 scratchings deadline
THE FOLLOWING FIVE ENTRIES HAVE BEEN TAKEN OUT: BLAZING TEMPO (IRE), LITTLE JOSH (IRE), COOLDINE (IRE), NORTHERN ALLIANCE (IRE), QHILIMAR (FR)