Monthly Archives: March 2013

Don’t bet a loser in the National before it even starts – avoid SP betting

riskThe recent guest article from Geoff Banks drew quite a bit of interest. Geoff sent me another one, which is a bit more technical, so I thought I’d write an article on how the world Geoff works in affects the one most readers will be familiar with – the betting shop, the online punt, the odds your horse wins (or loses) at.

Geoff is one of the traditional bookies you see at a track, standing on a stool, ‘shouting the odds’ in the betting ring.

For those unfamiliar with the impact the on-course betting ring (where all the individual bookmakers stand, competing for your money) has on day-to-day prices in betting shops and online, here’s a potted explanation centred on the Grand National.

Hopefully it will stop you betting at SP in future Nationals, as well as giving you some background if you choose to read Geoff’s latest article.

“What’s the SP?” An expression that’s made its way into everyday speech in some parts of the UK. It means, ‘What’s the news on a particular matter, what is the conclusion, how did it finish.”

The saying originated in betting. SP stands for Starting Price, the odds that are used to settle  off-track bets placed in shops or online (unless you’ve taken a previously agreed ‘early price’ or ‘board price’).  The SP matters.  A lot. It’s the equivalent of declaring a share price in a market. Those holding  ‘share options’ – winning betting tickets, collect at the rate decreed by the SP. Bets cannot be settled until the SP is known.

So who decides what the SP is for each race, and how?

Although the bulk of bets on any horse race, perhaps up to 99%, are placed away from the racecourse – online, in High St shops or by phone – the prices on offer by the bookies, like Geoff Banks, who stand at the racetrack offering odds, are the prices which determine the SP.cash

But not all bookmakers’ prices are monitored to decide on the SP. The Starting Price Regulatory Committee employ agents who use a sample of between 6 and 24 track bookmakers to decide SPs (at poorly attended race meetings that sample is permitted to drop to a minimum of 3).

The agents (SP validators) monitoring the sample of bookmakers are impartial. Their job is to favour neither punter nor bookmakers when deciding the price.

The criteria the agents use is:

The starting price for each horse is the market price at the off generally available to good money on the boards of those bookmakers in a sample whose each-way terms for a given race most closely reflect the each-way terms on offer for that race in the off-course retail market.

“Good money” is defined thus:

Generally that offered by a Starting Price Qualified Bookmaker who, in the judgment of the SP Validator following consultation with the Betting Operator, is prepared to lay a single bet to lose at least £500 on each horse in a scheduled race at that meeting.

So, supposing there are £10 million pounds worth of winning bets in Saturday’s Grand National: the winner has been on offer at the track at odds of around 16/1 to 18/1 among the 24 sampled bookmakers. The SP agents, who use software to access the prices these bookmakers have been offering, might decide that 18/1 was marginally the dominant price. Declaring an SP of 18/1 rather than 16/1, in this example, costs the bookmakers £180m rather than £160m.

Off-course (retail) bookmaking is a huge business – worth many billions. If you were the boss of Hills or Ladbrokes and a two point difference in the SP could cost you an awful lot of money, what would you do? You would find out which horses were being bet most with you and you’d then send someone to a racecourse to bet those horses in the hope of shortening the SP and therefore your financial liability.

And that is exactly what big bookmakers do, especially at major meetings like Cheltenham or Aintree. But the problem Ladbrokes/Hills have is that they do not know the identity (at least they are not supposed to know) of the bookmakers being used as a sample that day by the SP agents.

It’s a bit like the old stories from the pop business of record execs finding out which sample of record shops were being used by the compilers of the charts. They’d then send people to buy hundreds of records at each of these shops.

natapwinpost

Here is a concrete example from 2010. On the morning of the Grand National, Don’t Push It, the eventual winner, was on offer at 20/1. It was the mount of AP McCoy and many of the once-a-year punters latched on to it leaving the major High St bookies with large liabilities. Those bookies had their team on-course at Aintree pour money onto Don’t Push It in the five minutes or so before the off. The SP was seriously affected by that exercise and Don’t Push It was returned at 10/1, saving the big bookies a comparative fortune.

Don’t Push It’s SP on Betfair – an exchange which matches punter against punter and takes the bookmaker out of the middle – was 18/1.

This is not unusual for the Grand National. On-course punters that day are often very inexperienced and will simply bet their fancy without trying to work out the value of doing so at the price on offer.  On-course bookmakers can’t be blamed, I suppose, for taking advantage of this; the equivalent of holiday cost being much higher during school breaks. If there’s one thing better for businesses than a captive market, it’s a captive market of rookies.

The overall value a punter gets from the SP in each race is measured by what is called the overround. Each price represents a percentage value – for example 1/1 is 50%, 5/1 is 16.7%: these are supposed to reflect the percentage chance of that horse winning. The bookmaker’s intention is to have every horse in the race priced so that the total hits 100% + his profit margin. That margin is called the overround.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a big betting race, but many racegoers at Cheltenham are knowledgeable on betting and a have a strong feel for value.

The overrounds in the past five Gold Cups on the left, those on the Grand National, on the right:

113/152

120/155

119/155

116/146

117/147

A stark example of the effect of weight of money placed by professionals attempting perfectly legal price manipulation. In most betting markets, the shortening of one price leads to the lengthening of another. The figures above show that such a system worked well at Cheltenham, but worked poorly (from the punter’s viewpoint) at Aintree.

Aintree bookmakers might plead that the pure volume of business, especially in the run-up to the off of the National makes it very difficult to alter prices – all their time is spent taking bets. But the Cheltenham betting ring is also manic and they seem to have little problem adjusting prices there.

Anyway, beware on Saturday. If you don’t put your bet on before then, do not take SP on the day – take an ‘early price’.

From a value viewpoint, a number of bookmakers are offering ¼ the win odds on EW bets for the first 5 places. Betvictor offers first 6 places although, as Geoff points out in his article, many of these concessions are blunted by the reduction in overall pricing of all horses, thus boosting that bookie’s profit margin, his overround.

As for tips on the race, I’ll be posting mine in the middle of the week. My current shortlist, along with best prices available, and, in order of my preference is:

Join Together  20/1

Teaforthree  16/1

Colbert Station  12/1

Quel Esprit  50/1

Saint Are 50/1

Ninetieth Minute 100/1

I’m certain (on the basis of this article alone) Join Together will start a fair bit shorter than 20/1 and I think he is very good value with Totesport/Betfred.

And for all Betvictor has chopped most prices to compensate for paying 6 places, he is biggest on Ninetieth Minute who has a quirky style of running and who jumps carefully. He’s the type who will either decide early in the race it is not for him, or one who will pick his way round and might well run on late to finish in the first 6.

Betvictor also offers non-runner-no-bet, so Ninetieth Minute (his last run in England brought a win at the Cheltenham festival) is worth a small EW bet.

A best odds check can be seen here

Good luck

Joe

Bookie Geoff Banks wants big changes in the betting ring

Geoff’s last guest article drew quite a bit of interest. He sent me this one, worth reading for the passion and plain-speaking alone, although it is a bit ‘technical’ for the everyday racing fan. To find out a bit more about how Geoff’s business works, you might want to read this one before reading Geoff’s.

The ringMy last blog about modern day racing, and its sanitized ways, seemed to attract a lot of attention or hits as they say apparently. And more than a few compliments from like-minded souls, or perhaps concerned, individuals on Twitter. It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am…in future my rate for such scribing shall be ten pounds an article, and I’m not budging from that.

What was absent – was the contra view. Which I expected from trainers and connections of horses boxed away in padded cells for months on end- awaiting their glory moment. Shame that. However, all is not lost. I did receive one rather hateful response from a fellah describing himself rather grandly as ‘a proper Bookmaker’ who ranted about my attitudes to modern day betting rings. He wasn’t quite brave enough to tell us all who he was, doubtless of the view should he reveal his true identity, some would have realized the true worth of his business practices.  Few punters thoroughly approve of modern day Bookmakers. The horrible truth: exchanges are the ‘good guys’ wherever they trade from. Who’s going to criticize someone for low liquidity when you’re part of the problem?

It’s perhaps helpful if I illustrate the problems as I see it in the modern ring, for those who do not understand the issues. Anyone who goes racing, midweek in particular, can’t have failed to notice the distressed state of the ring. A handful of Bookies, usually with just one member of staff each, huddling for warmth whilst serving but a few customers. In an environment where racetracks claim attendances overall are holding up, it’s a paradox that rings are so quiet. Of course, were I the RCA, I’d be talking up the product. And yes, if they don’t address the problem of stable stars retiring as 3 year olds or worse sitting out for Cheltenham, they’re going to have attendance issues, we’re agreed on that. On a Saturday, and at the major meetings however, the crowds still look good to me, but the public aren’t betting as they used to.

Or perhaps they are. I mean who goes racing these days and doesn’t have a bet? Racing’s pretty dull if you don’t have some kind of interest other than an anoraky view of form or breeding. Why does the Queen have so many ladies in waiting when she’s in attendance? Quite right, they’re running her bets out! She’s no fool. Loves a Union Jack does the Boss. Everyone’s having a play in reality. Because if you’re racing, and not betting, you must be wondering what all the fuss and noise is about!

As to the Punters, they’re just getting bored. 98% of Bookies these days have turned to trading as a simple and cheap method of making a living. From the moment the interminably ignorant Rob Hughes, of the then controlling Levy Board, cast his vote in favour of opening up the Ring to outside influences-in particular exchanges, the die was cast for the Bookies. Led by ‘pioneers’ like Martyn of Leicester, who I recall describing it as the new Holy Grail to me one day.

Many leapt from odds, percentages and margins, to trading every dollar they took with an exchange, at better odds. Presto, easy money – minimal risk. At the outset the gap between the odds offered by the trader and the exchange was wide, and the method simple. It was a golden time. As the years progressed, with traders chasing a diminishing pound, and their own silly greed for every bet available, the odds soared to the punters. Traders found with what profits could be engendered, squeezed so tight, they couldn’t breathe. Even when the crowds were good, they moronically bet so tight to the exchange, the profits, if at all, were derisory.

18-03-2013 15-10-30

In the same period, liquidity on exchanges fell markedly. Now we had a situation where Traders would offer 7/1 about a horse trading at 8.2 on the exchange but only to £20. Lord-A-Mighty if someone asked for a couple of hundred each way- a bet far larger than they could stand, trade or even dump with the few proper Bookmakers betting to opinions. Casually they knocked the larger punters back, without thought for their future. They turned to following the exchange win price, but restricting the place returns, making something off of that book instead, tossing casually away years of agreements and the code laid down by Tattersalls.

This code was, and still is, respected in betting shops and credit offices and even improved upon. They laid off staff, and finally stopped going in some cases, altogether. So when ‘a proper Bookmaker’ tells me I shouldn’t be going about criticizing their business plan, I have to laugh. Proof of the pudding is in the eating. It gives me little pleasure to be proven totally right. I said this operandi would fail on every platform available to me, to whoever would listen and many who would not. If there’s no work – you’ve failed.

I’ve covered the traders, what about the views of my customers? First off, make no mistake, I like a laugh with my punters, especially when they lose – but I don’t mind the jibes when I do either! It’s part of the fun of betting with the old enemy. Because I am, the old enemy in all but age… I still offer odds which reflect my views and I don’t knock back bets from genuine punters, ever.

Why aren’t the punters flocking to a ring where they can very often beat an exchange price and pay no commission? Because my friends, like me, they’re so famously bored of a ring with rows of Bookmakers betting like soldiers – all offering the same odds. There’s no variety or choice. It’s uniform and drab. Worse it’s an exchange driven Cartel. Most Punters believe the Bookmakers win, whatever the result. If everyone has the same price- it appears like price fixing. They disapprove of restrictive practices such as 1/5th odds on the National, and traders who dress as if they’ve just stepped out of their front rooms.

And worse, they just want the fun of a bet. It really makes little difference to them whether a horse is 5/1 or 4/1 when the nags are toiling up the straight. One of the loudest punters in the ring I love, little Tommy, makes the most noise. He doesn’t bet big, but to him it’s still the buzz, and I love him for his enthusiasm. These days, customers are afforded little of the respect of past days, when Giants like John Banks and Stephen Little battled them with a smile, a thumping bet at their odds, and a tie.

I offer two thoughts for punters at this stage, out of balance. If you moan about poor place odds and you give those Traders who offer them your fiver each way at 1/5 the odds on the Cambridgeshire because they are 17/2 about something which is 8/1 elsewhere, then you’ve only yourselves to blame for supporting them, in any race.  I believe you should identify the culprits and never bet with them, period. That’s how you rid the ring of scoundrels without the business acumen to appreciate exchanges aren’t the savior, but their death knell. Oh, and tell your friends.

18-03-2013 15-23-07

Second, although I enjoyed the banter from Big Mac, even if it occasionally made no sense, the culture of moreism always has a price, go for service over value, every time. Think I fly Ryanair if British Airways head in the same direction?

Fine, I’ve given my thoughts. What of the future? For those leading Bookmakers these days, and for the empty vessels in the ring, standing looking at the tumbleweed, bitching away, and blaming everyone but themselves for the problems, I offer these solutions.

Number one; allow the racetracks to dictate the terms of business in the rings. Fundamentally to restore order on place markets, introduce a guaranteed minimum lay to lose amount for each ring. This stops traders betting to pennies, offering unsustainable odds, and knocking back the larger punters. It’s so tiresome to hear dinosaurs claim tracks ‘shouldn’t be allowed to dictate the terms of business.

What a narrow view, especially as even now, they already do! It’s hardly in the favour of racetracks to do away with the draw of their betting rings, is it? Chesterbet is a success, but only in parallel with Bookmakers bringing the punters to play into the track in the first place. On their own, and without a ring, tracks – whilst they can deliver on the bet at more restrictive odds – can’t deliver on the flavour and atmosphere people in this country enjoy about the ring so much.

Think that Simon Bazalgette and Charles Barnett are rubbing their hands with a go it alone approach? They’re no fools. They would prefer a symbiotic relationship. Every time we say no to their requests for improved service standards, they become just a little more unsympathetic to our problems. They will naturally turn their vast expertise in running business, into taking Betting under their wings and employing people like me to show them how it’s done successfully. And yes, I would, if the alternative is to stand amongst a bunch of fiddlers trading dollars in their jeans.

Number two, for racetrack bosses. Extinguish the cosy little relationship between RDT (betting software provider for on-course bookies) and Betdaq (betting exchange), with software capable of skillfully enabling traders to hive off bets at lightning speed to the exchange. Do away with track Broadband & Wi-Fi altogether. Outlaw data cards, secondary laptops and hand held PDA’s for Bookmakers. No, it’s not air tight, but it does go an awful long way to restricting the ability to trade with exchanges. Especially at festival meetings where mobile phone networks like Vodafone do a total runner.

Fundamentally, switch off the exchange displays on laptops provided by companies such as RDT and return rings to a lower tech environment. Give serious pause for what I’m advocating if you value a vibrant ring, its draw and income. Stop worrying about losing a few traders who do not approve of restrictions. Believe me, they’re no loss! Enfin, if you’re showing exchange odds on a big screen at your Racetrack, you’re doing yourselves no favours. It isn’t about price.

Number three Bookies, get into the modern day age of cashless societies and find Bank’s willing to offer the new fast generations of swipe debit cards to enable punters to bet without the need to queue for hours and days at cash points.

I accept there will be a variety of views out there to this. If you’re a hard working Bookie, you have my respect for your efforts, but you’re going nowhere, if you don’t adapt, and you know this is true. If you’re the blinkered sort, who believes the Son of John Banks got here through luck rather than focusing on service standards. Or if you’re worried someone else in the ring on a mobile will break the mould and have a huge mass of punters at his joint, whilst you have nothing, then you’re missed the point.

Geoff Banks

Geoff Banks

It is greed, and an unworkable long term business plan that got you here in the first place. You have to work as a collective, rather than a series of individuals, and you have to act now and stop thinking of what’s good for you, but what’s best for the customers you’ve lost. The tracks have the power to lay down sensible practices, if you’d only let them. One thing’s absolutely for sure, the one you’re using right now has failed, miserably. I don’t think anyone could argue with that. For those that view some of the points as ‘legally challengeable’. I point you to the free for all 2008 Gambling Act. Good luck in Court trying to get a decision as to what is, or isn’t legal anymore, because the Gambling Commission certainly can’t.

One final point, Bookies. Just a few years ago, many of these points were laid down by the NJPC articles. I don’t recall anyone at that time complaining, or challenging the terms. We can change, and we must, if the whole shebang doesn’t migrate to GoodwoodBet in a very short time.

Geoff Banks

March 2013

Always Waining Factfile for 2013 Grand National

AWaining

ALWAYS WAINING (IRE) FACTFILE
b g Unfuwain (USA)-Glenarff (USA) (Irish River (FR))
12-10-10 Jump Form: 44111/040P001/24P41131d/1320000/1P641PPP4P/550F0F0P1/0060041/04400-00 Owner: Peter and Linda Douglas Trainer: Peter Bowen Breeder: Barouche Stud Ireland

I’m grateful to Racenews for supplying factfiles for every runner in the John Smith’s Grand National. I reformat these and publish as I get them, with the first batch coming out 2 weeks before the big race on April 6th. By the eve of the National all factfiles will be published here. You can find others by clicking on the factfiles tag at the foot of this post

Always Waining
As an Unfuwain half-brother to the 1999 Derby fourth Housemaster, Always Waining (born on April 9, 2001, was bred to be a useful Flat performer but it has been over the big fences at Aintree that he has enjoyed his finest moments, becoming the first horse to win John Smith’s Topham Chase three times – 2010, 2011 & 2012. The 12-year-old sold for 9,000 guineas as a yearling and won three times on the level with Yorkshire-based trainer Mark Johnston, at one stage achieving a decent rating of 96.

He was claimed by trainer Pat Clinton for £30,000 for the current owners after winning a Newmarket claiming race in October, 2004 and won three hurdle races that winter. He moved to trainer Robert Stronge in early 2006, before joining Peter Bowen a year later, and the following season yielded a victory in a Bangor handicap hurdle and, sent chasing in the 2006/07 campaigned he scored three times. His next victory came at Aintree in June, 2008, in a three mile, one furlong, handicap hurdle and he kept going that summer and won a Listed handicap chase at Market Rasen in September.

He finished fourth in the 2009 John Smith’s Topham Chase and after falling in the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase, also over the Grand National fences, in November, 2009, he prevailed in the 2010 John Smith’s Topham Chase, scoring by 12 lengths from Scotsirish. After missing the cut in the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National, Always Waining won the John Smith’s Topham Chase again, finishing four lengths in front of Mon Parrain. He finished a distant fourth in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase, another race over the big Aintree fences, in December, 2011, and once again saved his best form until the spring as he recorded an unprecedented third victory in the John Smith’s Topham Chase in April, 2012, with Tom O’Brien up for the second consecutive year.

He started the current campaign with a well-beaten seventh in a veterans’ handicap chase at Doncaster on February 20 and put in a similarly uninspiring run in a Chepstow handicap hurdle on very soft ground on March 9. 24. Always Waining prefers good going.
Jump Race Record: Starts: 61; 1st: 12; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 2; Win & Place prize money: £297,400

OwnersWarnedOff

Peter and Linda Douglas
Peter Douglas, 61, and his wife Linda boast a racehorse ownership career spanning more than two decades with one of his early flagbearers being Salwan, a useful novice hurdler ridden by Robert Stronge, who at one stage trained Always Waining. Their early trainers also included Peter Bevan, Bill Clay, Jenny Pitman and Andy Streeter. Peter Douglas, based near Uttoxeter in Staffordshire, is founder of the PJD Group (1985).

The company, based at Castle Donington near Derby, has developed from his Peter J Douglas Engineering business into one of Britain’s leading independent mechanical engineering companies with some 250 employees. Douglas is a longstanding supporter at his local racecourse, Uttoxeter and sponsored a day in June that included a beginners’ chase run in Always Waining’s honour. The PJD Group also sponsors gymnast Sam Oldham, who was part of the Great Britain team that won a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
No previous John Smith’s Grand National runners

Trainer

Peter Bowen (Letterston, Pembrokeshire, Wales)
Born on June 9, 1958, Peter Bowen is married to Karen and has three sons, Michael (who began riding in point-to-points in April, 2012 on Iron Man), Sean and James. The son of a haulier and a village postmistress, Bowen trains at Letterston near Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and took out his first trainer’s licence in 1995, having previously been a livery yard proprietor and hugely successful point-to-point handler. His wife was a successful rider in point-to-points and under Rules. Bowen’s first winner under Rules came on October 9, 1995 at Sedgefield with Iffeee.

He won the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton the following November with Dreams End and the same horse took the Kingwell Hurdle at the Somerset course in February, 1997. A big race hat-trick was completed by Dreams End in the Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock later in the same year. Another horse that he did well with early in his training career was Iffeee, whom he saddled to win the Durham National at Sedgefield in 1996. The 1996/1997 campaign saw Bowen set a modern-day record with Stately Home, winner of 10 races that season including the Grade One Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park. He captured the Badger Ales Handicap Chase at Wincanton in both 2002 and 2003 with Swansea Bay and the same horse won the Edward Hanmer Memorial Chase at Haydock, also in 2003. His stable stars have included Take The Stand and Ballycassidy.

The former was second to Kicking King in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2005 and finished fifth in the 2006 renewal, the highest placing by a British-trained horse. Ballycassidy, a winner of 15 races who ran in the John Smith’s Grand National three times and showed up well on the second and third occasions before being found out. Bowen had his highest-ever number of winners in the 2006/2007 season, with 72 successes, including Dunbrody Millar in the John Smith’s Topham Chase, a race Bowen also captured in 2001 with Gower Slave and memorably with Always Waining in 2010, 2011, 2012. Bowen has also enjoyed Grade One success with Snoopy Loopy in the 2008 Betfair Chase and with Souffleur in the 2007 Challow Hurdle. He went close to John Smith’s Grand National success in 2007 when McKelvey was the three quarters of a length runner-up to Silver Birch.

John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2005 Take The Stand (UR 15th), Ballycassidy (UR 2nd); 2006 Ballycassidy (Fell 25th); 2007 McKelvey (2nd), Ballycassidy (UR24th); 2008 Iron Man (UR 3rd); McKelvey (UR 20th)

Colbert Station Factfile for 2013 Grand National

Colbert
COLBERT STATION (IRE) FACTFILE
b g Witness Box (USA) – Laurenca’s Girl (IRE) (Commanche Run)
9-11-01 Form: 364/46951177/413-5211 Owner: J P McManus
Trainer: Ted Walsh Breeder: Miss Mary Barry Murphy

I’m grateful to Racenews for supplying factfiles for every runner in the John Smith’s Grand National. I reformat these and publish as I get them, with the first batch coming out 2 weeks before the big race on April 6th. By the eve of the National all factfiles will be published here. You can find others by clicking on the factfiles tag at the foot of this post

Colbert Station
Colbert Station, born on April 15, 2004, was sold as a foal at Tattersalls Ireland in November 2004 for 7,200 euros. He was third behind fellow John Smith’s Grand National aspirant Across The Bay on his debut in a Fairyhouse maiden hurdle in January, 2009. He had six mores starts over hurdles before winning a handicap hurdle at Punchestown in December, 2009, he scored comfortably under A P McCoy at Leopardstown in January, 2010.

After creditable efforts in handicap hurdles at the Fairyhouse and Punchestown spring festivals, Colbert Station was not seen again until December, 2011, when lining up in a three-mile novices’ chase at Punchestown. He ran respectably to come home fourth and improved for that run to land an extended two-mile beginners chase at Leopardstown in January, 2010, before rounding off the season with a third-placed finish behind Leanne in a competitive handicap chase at Leopardstown in March. The nine-year-old was fifth behind the classy Hidden Cyclone on his comeback this season in a chase at Gowran Park on November 24, before chasing home Roi Du Mee in a three-mile handicap hurdle at Navan on December 8. He returned to fences at Leopardstown over Christmas with an emphatic five and a half length victory in the hugely competitive Paddy Power Handicap Chase over three miles and completed his preparation for Aintree with a decisive two-length success in a three-mile handicap hurdle at the same course on February 3.
Race Record: Starts: 18; Wins: 5; 2nd: 1; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £137,744

Owner

J P McManusWarnedOff

Few people have enjoyed a closer association with jump racing in the last 30 years than John Patrick ’J P’ McManus, who was born on a farm in Co Limerick on March 10, 1951 and attended the Christian Brothers school on Sexton Street, Limerick. He left his father’s plant hire business at the age of 20 to become a racecourse bookmaker, but then took the less well-trodden route of gamekeeper-turned-poacher to be a professional punter.

McManus recalls one of his first bets as being on Merryman II in the 1960 Grand National when he was just nine, but the bet that changed his life was £4 on Linden Tree in a Newmarket maiden in 1970, the horse winning at 100/8. He had another £4 on when Linden Tree won the Observer Gold Cup at 25/1, and £5 each-way at 33/1 for the Derby, when the horse beat all bar Mill Reef. The amount he wagered grew rapidly and he is still one of the highest-staking punters on the racecourse. Dubbed “the Sundance Kid” by journalist Hugh McIlvanney after a number of major gambles in the ring during the 1970s, he is also the biggest jump owner in terms of numbers in Britain, Ireland and France (some 300 horses spread over 50 trainers ran for him last season) after he purchased his first racehorse, Cill Dara, at the age of 26.

He has a host of business interests including dealing on the financial markets from his Geneva, Switzerland base and part-ownership of the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados, where he also has a house. With John Magnier, he bought a 28.7% stake in Manchester United through the Cubic Expression company before subsequently selling out to US tycoon Malcolm Glazer in 2005. He was in the news shortly after that because of his stake in the pub and restaurant operator Mitchells and Butler. In 2012, the Sunday Times estimated McManus’ wealth at £471 million, making him the 14th richest person in Ireland. Since Mister Donovan landed the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 1982, he has enjoyed 38 other Cheltenham Festival successes, headed by the great three-time Champion Hurdle hero Istabraq. In 2010, he won a fourth Champion Hurdle with Binocular, while the 2012 Festival yielded five more successes headed by Synchronised’s gutsy success in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, but he had to wait to final day this year before gaining two successes. McManus does a lot of work for charity and his Pro-Am golf tournament, which takes place every five years and has raised over 95 million euros. McManus is also a keen backgammon player and a big hurling fan.

He owns Jackdaws Castle, the Gloucestershire yard that Jonjo O’Neill trains from, and has invested heavily in improving facilities since purchasing the property in 2001. He was British champion owner for the 2005/6, 2006/7, 2008/9, 2009/10 and 2011/12 seasons. A full 28 years after his runner in the race, McManus finally achieved a long-held ambition when Don’t Push It won the 2010 John Smith’s Grand National. Last year, Sunnyhillboy went agonisingly close to giving McManus a second success when beaten a nose by the Paul Nicholls-trained Neptune Collonges. John Smith’s Grand National Record: 1982 Deep Gale (Fell 1st), 1988 Bucko (PU bef 27th), 1992 Laura’s Beau (3rd), 1994 Laura’s Beau (Fell 6th), 1996 Wylde Hide (UR 24th), 1997 Wylde Hide (UR 22nd);
1998 Gimme Five (5th), 2002 Spot Thedifference (UR 27th); 2003 Youlneverwalkalone (pU bef 13th); 2004 Clan Royal (2nd), Spot Thedifference (5th), Risk Accessor (UR 6th), Le Coudray (Fell 22nd); 2005 Innox (7th), Spot Thedifference (18th), Shamawan (21st), Clan Royal (CO 22nd), Le Coudray (PU before 21st), Risk Accessor (UR 2nd); 2006 Clan Royal (3rd), Risk Accessor (5th), Innox (Fell 1st), First Gold (UR 23rd); 2007 L’Ami (10th), Clan Royal (11th); 2008 King Johns Castle (2nd), L’Ami (Fell 2nd), Bob Hall (PU bef 19th), Butler’s Cabin (Fell 22nd); 2009 Butler’s Cabin (7th), Reveillez (BD 3rd), Can’t Buy Time (Fell 18th), L’Ami (PU bef 30th); 2010 DoN’T PUSH IT (WON), Can’t Buy Time (Fell 8th), Arbor Supreme (UR 15th), King Johns Castle (refused to race); 2011 Don’t Push It (3rd), Blue Sea Cracker (14th), Quolibet (UR 11th), Can’t Buy Time (Fell 18th), Arbor Supreme (Fell 28th); 2012 Sunnyhillboy (2nd), Synchronised (Fell 6th), Arbor Supreme (UR 10th), Quiscover Fontaine (Fell 17th)

Trainer
Ted Walsh IRE (Kill, County Kildare)
Born on April 14, 1950, at Fermoy in Co Cork and now based at Greenhills near Naas in Co Kildare, Ted Walsh is a racehorse trainer, journalist and broadcaster with rTe and Channel 4. His father, Ruby, had a public house and kept a livery stable in Fermoy. In 1954 the Walsh family relocated to the United States, but came back to Ireland less than two years later and Ruby rented a yard at Chapelizod, Co Dublin.

The Walshs later moved to a farm in Kill, Co Kildare, which Ted has now extended to 60 acres. Walsh was Irish champion amateur jockey on 11 occasions, and rode four Cheltenham Festival winners, including the 1979 Queen Mother Champion Chase on Hilly Way. Commanche Court, who Walsh selected, purchased and trained for owner Dermot Desmond, won the 1997 Triumph Hurdle and completed an amazing double for Walsh in 2000 when winning the Irish National at Fairyhouse 16 days after Papillon landed the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree. Both horses were partnered by Walsh’s son Ruby, while another of his children Katie is also a successful jockey with two Cheltenham Festival wins to her name.

They came close to a John Smith’s Grand National success last year when Seabass, ridden by Katie and trained by Ted, finished third. Walsh’s other daughter Jennifer is agent to Ruby, while his other son Ted Jnr married leading jockey Nina Carberry on February 7, 2012. Ted Walsh’s other training successes include the Bet365 Gold Cup with Jack High in 2005, while Rince Ri won a number of good races for the stable including the Argento Chase at Cheltenham in 2002. John Smith’s Grand National Record: 1992 Roc De Prince (17th); 2000 PAPILLON (WON), 2001 Papillon (4th), 2006 Jack High (UR 15th), Rince Ri (Ref 27th), 2007 Jack High (Fell 6th); 2009 Southern Vic (8th); 2012 Seabass (3rd)

Forpadydeplasterer Factfile for 2013 Grand National

forpady

FORPADYDEPLASTERER (IRE) FACTFILE
b g Moscow Society (USA) – Run Artiste (Deep Run)
11-11-00 Jump Form: 11214/12221/222222/2P/233464-2P1536
Owner: Goat Racing Syndicate Trainer: Tom Cooper IRE Breeder: John Broderick

I’m grateful to Racenews for supplying factfiles for every runner in the John Smith’s Grand National. I reformat these and publish as I get them, with the first batch coming out 2 weeks before the big race on April 6th. By the eve of the National all factfiles will be published here. You can find others by clicking on the factfiles tag at the foot of this post

Forpadydeplasterer
Forpadydeplasterer, born on May 10, 2002, owes his name to Bertie Ahern, the former Irish prime minister who is also an associate of the gelding’s part-owner Charlie Chawke. Two of Ahern’s closest friends shared the same name, Paddy Reilly, so one was referred to as “Paddy the Plasterer”.

When racing was abandoned at Leopardstown in March, 2007, a group of friends had lunch at The Goat pub instead and decided to buy a racehorse and name it Forpadydeplasterer in honour of Ahern and Reilly’s financial transactions. Brian Cooper, one of those present at The Goat, asked his brother Tom to find an unnamed horse that he would train for the syndicate. Cooper sourced a Moscow Society gelding, who made a winning start to his career in a Galway bumper in October, 2007.

A highly progressive season over hurdles followed as Forpadydeplasterer captured the Grade One Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown in February, 2008, and finished fourth in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He was sent chasing for the 2008/2009 campaign and was runner-up in the Drinmore Novice Chase, the Irish Arkle Novice Chase and the Dr P J Moriarty Novice Chase before gaining a deserved Grade One success in the Racing Post Arkle at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival. A frustrating run followed as Forpadydeplaster finished second on next seven starts, including five Grade One contests – the Swordlestown Cup Novice Chase, the Tingle Creek Chase, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the John Smith’s Melling Chase and the Punchestown Champion Chase.

Connections stepped him up to three miles for the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park in January, 2011, but he was pulled up behind Long Run, and he continued to run well in defeat throughout the following season, including when finishing sixth in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in March, 2012, and fourth in the John Smith’s Melling Chase the following month. The current campaign started in a similar vein, with Forpadydeplasterer chasing home Sizing Europe in the Grade Two PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park in October. Following a first run on the Flat at Galway and a disappointing effort in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, Forpadydeplasterer won his first race for three and a half years with victory in a three-mile chase at Thurles on November 29. He subsequently came home last of five in the Grade One Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting and was third in a two and a half mile chase at Clonmel on February 7. Forpadydeplasterer warmed up for Aintree with a rare foray over hurdles, coming home sixth at Leopardstown on March 3.
Jump Race Record: Starts: 30; 1st: 6; 2nd: 13; 3rd: 3; Win & Place prize money: £468,463

OwnersWarnedOff

Goat Racing Syndicate
Charlie Chawke heads the 20-strong syndicate that owns Forpadydeplasterer. Chawke owns a chain of eight pubs contained within the Chawke Group, some of which are co-owned by Senator Eddie Bohan – The Oval, The Dropping Well, The Bank, The Goat, The Lord Lucan, The Old Orchard, Aunty Lena’s and Bill Chawke’s Bar. In 2005, Chawke paid the highest price ever paid for a pub in Ireland – €22 million – for the Orchard in Rathfarnham on the outskirts of Dublin.

He was also a member of the Drumaville Consortium that purchased Sunderland football club in 2006 and sold the premier league team to Ellis Short in 2009. Chawke had a leg amputated after being shot in a robbery in October, 2003. The syndicate is named after one of Chawke’s pubs, The Goat in Goatstown, near Leopardstown, and 10 of the group are known as the Piano Gang because “they are really mad guys – they get barred from the pub every weekend and reinstated every Monday”. Forpadydeplasterer is the only horse to have raced for the syndicate, whose colours are based on the red and white of Sunderland, but the horse has proven to be a real star for the syndicate, winning Leopardstown’s Deloitte Novice Hurdle and the Racing Post Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2009.
No previous John Smith’s Grand National runners

Trainer

Tom Cooper (Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland)
The father of up and coming jockey Bryan, Tom Cooper initially trained as a dentist and he still divides his time between training and running his dental laboratory in Tralee, County Kerry. Born on January 3, 1965, He started out training under a permit in 1994 before taking out a full licence in 1998. He saddled his first winner at his local course Tralee on June 2, 1997, as Flying In The Gale captured a handicap hurdle.

The mare proved to be an early standard bearer for Cooper, winning five times in all, while Diamond Melody and talented dual-code performer Galileo Strike also advertised Cooper’s ability to train winners. His first real star was Total Enjoyment, who scored in the 2004 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival. Cooper enjoyed further Grade One success with Forpadydeplasterer, who captured the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown in February, 2008, before giving the trainer a second Cheltenham Festival win in the Racing Post Arkle Chase.

His most recent stable star has been Lucky William, successful in the Grade One Ryanair Novice Chase at the 2012 Punchestown Festival. Despite not saddling any runners at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013, quietly spoken Cooper still had a meeting to remember as his son Bryan recorded his first three wins at the fixture on Benefficient (Jewson Novices’ Chase), Our Conor (JCB Triumph Hurdle) and Ted Veale (Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle).
No previous John Smith’s Grand National runners

Harry The Viking Factfile for 2013 Grand National

harry

HARRY THE VIKING FACTFILE
ch g Sir Harry Lewis (USA) – Viking Flame (Viking (USA))
8-10-06 Form: 2/11112P-P90 Owner: Sir Alex Ferguson, Ged Mason, Ron Wood, Peter Done
Trainer: Paul Nicholls Breeder: W Bush

I’m grateful to Racenews for supplying factfiles for every runner in the John Smith’s Grand National. I reformat these and publish as I get them, with the first batch coming out 2 weeks before the big race on April 6th. By the eve of the National all factfiles will be published here. You can find others by clicking on the factfiles tag at the foot of this post

Harry The Viking
Harry The Viking, born on April 29, 2005, was just touched off on his debut by stable companion Oscargo in a three-mile maiden hurdle at Chepstow in March, 2011, but made no mistake back at the Welsh course in October, 2011, scoring decisively by two lengths from the classy Forgotten Gold. After overcoming greenness to win a novices’ hurdle at Towcester the following month, Harry The Viking got the better of Saint Are in a three-mile novices’ chase at Doncaster in December, 2011, before a game victory over Ikoroudu Road in a novices’ handicap chase at the same course later that month.

Despite his relative inexperience, he lined up in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival and ran with plenty of credit to finish second to comfortable winner Teaforthree. On the back of that effort, Harry The Viking was sent off favourite for the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in April, 2012, but disappointed when pulled up before the 19th. The eight-year-old has failed to fire in three starts this season, being pulled up on his reappearance at Cheltenham in November and finishing down the field in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in December and the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on March 14.
Race Record: Starts: 10; Wins: 4; 2nd: 2; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £29,875

OwnersWarnedOff
Sir Alex Ferguson, Ged Mason, Ron Wood & Peter Done
Sir Alex Ferguson is the manager of Manchester United Football Club and the most successful British football manager of all time. Born December 31, 1941 in Govan, Glasgow, Ferguson scored a consolation goal on his league debut as a player for Queen’s Park, aged 16. His playing career subsequently took in St Johnstone, Dunfermline, Rangers, Falkirk and Ayr United. His £65,000 transfer between Dunfermline and Rangers in 1967 was at the time a record fee between two Scottish clubs.

After retiring from playing at the end of the 1973/74 season, he stepped into management with East Stirlingshire, followed by a successful spell at St Mirren, and then Aberdeen where he won the Scottish Premier Division three times and added the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup. He was Scotland’s national team manager from September 1985 until June, 1986, leaving the post when the team was dumped out of the World Cup in Mexico with only one point from three matches.

Ferguson became Manchester United manager that year and his phenomenal reign has seen the club land the Premier League title 12 times, the FA Cup on five occasions, the League Cup four times, a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, and the UEFA Champions’ League twice. He was made an OBE in 1983, received his CBE in 1995 and was knighted in 1999. Ferguson married Cathy in 1966 and they have three sons, Mark and the twins, Darren (a football manager) and Jason (a football agent). Ferguson has been a major financial donor to the Labour party and lives in Wilmslow, Cheshire. The best horse to carry his red colours was the great miler Rock Of Gibraltar, who notched a European record of seven consecutive Group One victories that included the 2001 renewals of the 2,000 Guineas, Sussex Stakes and Prix du Moulin.

Ged Mason became chief executive of Morson Group in January, 2005, having been the company’s managing director from 1999. Mason, 49, joined the Morson Group in 1986 after completing his university education and following a period working for a technical recruitment company in Canada. Morson Group Plc is a leading provider of human capital and engineering design solutions to the engineering and technical business sectors. Mason’s colours are associated with dual Grade One winner What A Friend and Sporazene, who landed the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle at the 2004 Cheltenham Festival, as well as a Punchestown Grade One in 2003. He first got into racing through his attendance as a guest at corporate events. Ron Wood, 64, started a wholesale greeting card and gift wrap business with his wife Gail in 1966 and sold the company, which became known as Birthdays, for £90 million in 1996. He has subsequently turned his attention to property and owns Ron Wood Developments, which is based in Bury. He lives in the village Greenmount on the outskirts of Manchester.

Peter Done, 66, established the first betting shop in Salford in 1967 alongside his older brother Fred – the pair won a substantial amount of money following a bet on England to win the World Cup in the previous year. The company, which trades under the name Betfred, has flourished to become the fourth biggest bookmaker in the UK, with over 1,350 betting shops throughout the country, and purchased the tote from the British government in a deal worth £265 million in 2011. While Fred is still the chairman of Betfred, Peter set up Peninsula Business Services in 1983 after being faced with an employment tribunal. Peninsula, which is the leading provider of employment law and health & safety services in the UK, is based in Manchester and employs 900 people in the UK and Ireland. Peter also writes a weekly column for the Sunday Times entitled The Business Doctor. The Done brothers were valued at £700 million in the 2012 Sunday Times Rich List. John Smith’s Grand National Record (Ged Mason & Sir Alex Ferguson): 2011 What A Friend (PU 27th)

Trainer
Paul Nicholls (Ditcheat, Somerset)
Seven-time champion jump trainer Paul Nicholls was born at Lydney, Gloucestershire, April 17, 1962 and grew up in Olveston near Bristol. He has been training at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, Somerset, since taking out a licence on November 1, 1991. The policeman’s son started out in racing as a jump jockey and partnered 119 winners between 1980 and 1989, with his biggest British successes coming in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Broadheath (1986) and Playschool (1987), who also captured the 1988 Vincent O’Brien (Irish) Gold Cup with Paul up. He struggled to keep his weight down and gave up race riding.

Between 1989 and 1991, he was assistant trainer to David Barons, who trained Boardheath and Playschool and sent out Seagram to win the 1991 Grand National at Aintree during that time. He has always trained at Paul Barber’s Manor Farm, initially with just eight horses. Nicholls, who now has over 200 horses in training, quickly made his mark as a trainer with an early highlight coming on Saturday, November 7, 1998, when pulling off the amazing feat of saddling seven winners and three seconds from 10 runners and he later made history when he became the first trainer to saddle six winners on the same card, at Wincanton, his local track, on January 21, 2006.

Another early high point in his training career came at the 1999 Cheltenham Festival when he captured the major chase on each of the three days – Flagship Uberalles scored in the Racing Post Arkle Chase, Call Equiname in the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase the following day and, best of all, See More Business took the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. Having strongly challenged Martin Pipe for the jump trainers’ championship over a number of years, most notably when pushing his great rival right to the last day of the 2004/05 campaign, Nicholls claimed his first title the following season and he has retained the title every season since, though he is in a fight for supremacy this season with Nicky Henderson.

Recent flag-bearers for Nicholls have included the brilliant 16-time Grade One winner Kauto Star, who became the first horse to win the William Hill King George VI Chase five times and the only chaser to regain the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival (2007 & 2009). Denman captured the 2008 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup and twice defied top weight to win the Hennessy Gold Cup, while Master Minded gained eight Grade One victories including two renewals of the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase. Big Buck’s has also entered the record books with 17 consecutive wins over hurdles, beating Sir Ken’s record of 16 set between 1951 and 1953, headed by an unprecedented four successive victories in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

Nicholls celebrated a first victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle with Rock On Ruby last year and he is currently fourth on the all time list of trainers at the Cheltenham Festival with 33 wins to his name. He became the first trainer to accrue more than £4 million in a season in 2007/08 and recorded his 2,000th winner at Down Royal on November 5, 2011, 20 years after taking out his training licence, making him the quickest to reach this landmark figure in jump racing. After saddling 52 runners in the John Smith’s Grand National, Nicholls finally recorded his first success in the great race in 2012 as Neptune Collonges beat Sunnyhillboy by a nose – the smallest winning margin in the history of the contest.

John Smith’s Grand National Record: 1992 Just So (6th); 1996 Vicompt De Valmont (10th), Deep Bramble (PU bef 2 out), Brackenfield (UR 19th); 1997 Straight Talk (Fell 14th); 1998 What A Hand (Fell 1st), Court Melody (Fell 6th), General Crack (PU 11th); 1999 Strong Chairman (15th), Double Thriller (Fell 1st), 2000 Earthmover (Fell 4th), Torduff Express (Fell 13th), Flaked Oats (Fell 20th), Escartefigue (UR 30th); 2001 Earthmover (Fell 4th); 2002 Murt’s Man (PU bef 17th), Ad Hoc (BD 27th); 2003 Montifault (5th), Fadalko (UR 6th), Ad Hoc (UR 19th), Shotgun Willy (PU bef 22nd), Torduff Express (UR 27th); 2004 Exit To Wave (PU bef 9th); 2005 Royal Auclair (2nd), Heros Collonges (8th), L’Aventure (15th), Ad Hoc (Fell 22nd); 2006 Royal Auclair (Fell 1st), Le Roi Miguel (PU bef 19th), Cornish Rebel (PU bef 19th), Silver Birch (Fell 15th), Le Duc (UR 8th), Heros Collonges (UR 15th); 2007 Royal Auclair (Fell 9th), Le Duc (UR 6th), Eurotrek (PU bef 22nd), Thisthatandtother (PU bef 30th); 2008 Cornish Sett (12th), Mr Pointment (PU bef last), Turko (Fell 25th); 2009 My Will (3rd), Big Fella Thanks (6th), Cornish Sett (17th), Eurotrek (PU 17th); 2010 Big Fella Thanks (4th), Tricky Trickster (9th), My Will (Fell 4th), Nozic (UR 20th); 2011 Niche Market (5th), Ornais (Fell 4th), The Tother One (Fell 6th), What A Friend (PU 27th); 2012 NEPTUNE COLLONGES (WON).

Join Together Factfile for 2013 Grand National

Join T

JOIN TOGETHER (IRE) FACTFILE
b g Old Vic – Open Cry (IRE) (Montelimar (USA))
8-11-02 Form: 321P/F11P3-72P
Owner: Ian Fogg & Paul Barber Trainer: Paul Nicholls Breeder: J D Flood

I’m grateful to Racenews for supplying factfiles for every runner in the John Smith’s Grand National. I reformat these and publish as I get them, with the first batch coming out 2 weeks before the big race on April 6th. By the eve of the National all factfiles will be published here. You can find others by clicking on the factfiles tag at the foot of this post

Join Together
Join Together, born on March 16, 2005, started his career in Ireland under the care of Liam Burke, a good friend of part-owners Paul and Marianne Barber. After winning a maiden point-to-point at Inch in March, 2010, the son of Old Vic was transferred to the powerful stable of British champion trainer Paul Nicholls, for whom he finished third on his debut under Rules in an Exeter novices’ hurdle in November of the same year.

He filled the runner-up spot in a three-mile Grade Two novices’ hurdle at Cheltenham’s International meeting a month later before registering a straightforward success over the same distance at Chepstow in February, 2011. Join Together lined up in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival but failed to land a blow and was pulled up behind future Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth. Sent chasing for the 2011/2012 campaign, Join Together made an inauspicious start over the larger obstacles at Chepstow in October, 2011, as he fell five fences from home. He made amends on his next outing at The Open at Cheltenham the following month, when he got the better of future Welsh National runner-up Teaforthree in an extended three-mile novices’ chase.

Join Together followed up with another impressive success at Cheltenham in December, 2011, but he again failed to make an impact at The Festival in 2012, as he was pulled up behind Bobs Worth, this time in the RSA Chase. He ended the season with a better effort at Aintree’s John Smith’s Grand National meeting, coming home third behind stable companion Silviniaco Conti in the John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase. Join Together has made three appearances in valuable staying handicap chases so far this term, starting with an unlucky seventh in the United House Gold Cup at Ascot in November, in which he was hampered three fences out. He enjoyed his first taste of the Grand National fences in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree on December 8, as he stayed on strongly to go down by a neck to Hello Bud in the three and a quarter mile contest.

Join Together warmed up for the John Smith’s Grand National with a disappointing effort in Doncaster’s Grimthorpe Chase on March 2, when he was pulled up after being badly hampered at the third fence. Race Record: Starts: 12; 1st: 3; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 2; Win & Place prize money: £65,183

OwnersWarnedOff
Paul Barber and Ian Fogg
Paul Barber’s family have farmed near Ditcheat since the 1830s and he oversees a 2,000-strong dairy herd on 3,000 acres, having started with 150 cows on 150 acres, which now produce 45 tonnes of cheese daily for Barbers and Maryland Farmhouse Cheese, run by Paul’s brother Nicholas.

Paul – who has been allergic to cheese since the age of five – was born on December 31, 1942, on the kitchen table in the house where he still lives, stating “I’ve never thought about living elsewhere” and despite no family involvement with racing, has been an owner since his purchase in 1958 of a horse that cost £450 and had to be paid for instalments. He has never owned a Flat horse and his first winner was Crazy Slave, who scored in 1963, and his main flagbearers have been the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman (owned with Maggie Findlay) and the 1999 scorer See More Business.

He paid £82,000 for Denman and refuses to pay over the odds for a horse after being stung when making a couple of expensive purchases following See More Business’s success. Others to carry his colours include See More Indians, who won eight races out of 14, and the John Thorne-trained Artifice. Barber owns Nicholls’s Manor Farm Stables, initially converted from a cow shed, and his house overlooked Denman’s stable. Many of his best performers have had an initial grounding in point-to-points, either with Liam Burke in Ireland or Barber’s brother Richard – who has trained four Festival winners – at Seaborough in Dorset. Ian Fogg, 66, became an owner after moving to Ditcheat with wife Wendy in 2010.

He is involved with six horses with Nicholls and owns the winning point-to-pointer Scotch Dry And Ice, a 175,000 euros store horse purchase, with Richard Barber. He founded the Vacancy Management Company in 2001 and is the managing director of the business, which is a pharmaceutical and health care recruitment and contract employment company. He previously built up the RDL Group between 1989 and 1997 to have 650 employees before selling the company to American interests.
John Smith’s Grand National Record (Paul Barber): 1996 Deep Bramble (PU bef 29th); 1998 General Crack (PU bef 11th); 2009 Big Fella Thanks (6th); 2010 Big Fella Thanks (4th)

Trainer
Paul Nicholls (Ditcheat, Somerset)
Seven-time champion jump trainer Paul Nicholls was born at Lydney, Gloucestershire, April 17, 1962 and grew up in Olveston near Bristol. He has been training at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, Somerset, since taking out a licence on November 1, 1991. The policeman’s son started out in racing as a jump jockey and partnered 119 winners between 1980 and 1989, with his biggest British successes coming in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Broadheath (1986) and Playschool (1987), who also captured the 1988 Vincent O’Brien (Irish) Gold Cup with Paul up. He struggled to keep his weight down and gave up race riding.

Between 1989 and 1991, he was assistant trainer to David Barons, who trained Boardheath and Playschool and sent out Seagram to win the 1991 Grand National at Aintree during that time. He has always trained at Paul Barber’s Manor Farm, initially with just eight horses. Nicholls, who now has over 200 horses in training, quickly made his mark as a trainer with an early highlight coming on Saturday, November 7, 1998, when pulling off the amazing feat of saddling seven winners and three seconds from 10 runners and he later made history when he became the first trainer to saddle six winners on the same card, at Wincanton, his local track, on January 21, 2006.

Another early high point in his training career came at the 1999 Cheltenham Festival when he captured the major chase on each of the three days – Flagship Uberalles scored in the Racing Post Arkle Chase, Call Equiname in the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase the following day and, best of all, See More Business took the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. Having strongly challenged Martin Pipe for the jump trainers’ championship over a number of years, most notably when pushing his great rival right to the last day of the 2004/05 campaign, Nicholls claimed his first title the following season and he has retained the title every season since, though he is in a fight for supremacy this season with Nicky Henderson.

Recent flag-bearers for Nicholls have included the brilliant 16-time Grade One winner Kauto Star, who became the first horse to win the William Hill King George VI Chase five times and the only chaser to regain the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival (2007 & 2009). Denman captured the 2008 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup and twice defied top weight to win the Hennessy Gold Cup, while Master Minded gained eight Grade One victories including two renewals of the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase. Big Buck’s has also entered the record books with 17 consecutive wins over hurdles, beating Sir Ken’s record of 16 set between 1951 and 1953, headed by an unprecedented four successive victories in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

Nicholls celebrated a first victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle with Rock On Ruby last year and he is currently fourth on the all time list of trainers at the Cheltenham Festival with 33 wins to his name. He became the first trainer to accrue more than £4 million in a season in 2007/08 and recorded his 2,000th winner at Down Royal on November 5, 2011, 20 years after taking out his training licence, making him the quickest to reach this landmark figure in jump racing. After saddling 52 runners in the John Smith’s Grand National, Nicholls finally recorded his first success in the great race in 2012 as Neptune Collonges beat Sunnyhillboy by a nose – the smallest winning margin in the history of the contest.

John Smith’s Grand National Record: 1992 Just So (6th); 1996 Vicompt De Valmont (10th), Deep Bramble (PU bef 2 out), Brackenfield (UR 19th); 1997 Straight Talk (Fell 14th); 1998 What A Hand (Fell 1st), Court Melody (Fell 6th), General Crack (PU 11th); 1999 Strong Chairman (15th), Double Thriller (Fell 1st), 2000 Earthmover (Fell 4th), Torduff Express (Fell 13th), Flaked Oats (Fell 20th), Escartefigue (UR 30th); 2001 Earthmover (Fell 4th); 2002 Murt’s Man (PU bef 17th), Ad Hoc (BD 27th); 2003 Montifault (5th), Fadalko (UR 6th), Ad Hoc (UR 19th), Shotgun Willy (PU bef 22nd), Torduff Express (UR 27th); 2004 Exit To Wave (PU bef 9th); 2005 Royal Auclair (2nd), Heros Collonges (8th), L’Aventure (15th), Ad Hoc (Fell 22nd); 2006 Royal Auclair (Fell 1st), Le Roi Miguel (PU bef 19th), Cornish Rebel (PU bef 19th), Silver Birch (Fell 15th), Le Duc (UR 8th), Heros Collonges (UR 15th); 2007 Royal Auclair (Fell 9th), Le Duc (UR 6th), Eurotrek (PU bef 22nd), Thisthatandtother (PU bef 30th); 2008 Cornish Sett (12th), Mr Pointment (PU bef last), Turko (Fell 25th); 2009 My Will (3rd), Big Fella Thanks (6th), Cornish Sett (17th), Eurotrek (PU 17th); 2010 Big Fella Thanks (4th), Tricky Trickster (9th), My Will (Fell 4th), Nozic (UR 20th); 2011 Niche Market (5th), Ornais (Fell 4th), The Tother One (Fell 6th), What A Friend (PU 27th); 2012 NEPTUNE COLLONGES (WON).

Lost Glory Factfile for 2013 Grand National

national_start

LOST GLORY (NZ) FACTFILE
b g Montjeu (IRE) – Joie De Vivre (NZ) (Zabeel (NZ))
8-10-08 Form: 0593/0376/134112-011611
Owner: J P McManus Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill Breeder: Keltern Stud Ltd

I’m grateful to Racenews for supplying factfiles for every runner in the John Smith’s Grand National. I reformat these and publish as I get them, with the first batch coming out 2 weeks before the big race on April 6th. By the eve of the National all factfiles will be published here. You can find others by clicking on the factfiles tag at the foot of this post

Lost Glory
Lost Glory, born on September 4, 2005, is bidding to become the fourth New Zealand-bred horse to win the John Smith’s Grand National following Moifaa (1904), Seagram (1991) and Lord Gyllene (1997). He was one of eight Montjeu yearlings purchased by his owner J P McManus at the 2007 Karaka Yearling Sales and made his debut for Jonjo O’Neill in an Ascot bumper in November, 2009, in which he finished 10th.

Lost Glory, who cost NZ$200,000, subsequently made seven appearances over hurdles, with his best effort over the smaller obstacles being a third in a novices’ contest at Kempton Park in March, 2010 behind the talented Captain Chris. He made a winning debut over fences at Southwell in June, 2011, beating the quirky but talented Marodima, but failed to build on that success in two subsequent outings in handicap company at Uttoxeter and Worcester.

Lost Glory gained a second victory over fences at Ffos Las in August, 2011, and followed up with a nose success in a handicap hurdle at Huntingdon two months later. He made just one more appearance during the 2011/2012 season, finishing a well-beaten second in a Stratford handicap chase in October, 2011, as connections decided to keep him for better ground.

Lost Glory geared up for a summer jumping campaign by coming home down the field in a Towcester handicap hurdle in May, 2012, and showed the benefit of that outing when scoring in handicap company on his next two starts – over hurdles at Uttoxeter in June and over fences at Southwell the following month. After failing to get competitive at Ffos Las in August, Lost Glory returned to the winner’s enclosure with a facile win in a Stratford handicap chase at the end of September. He posted a career best effort on his most recent appearance to capture a valuable handicap chase at Chepstow on October 13, after which he was given a well-earned break.
Race Record: Starts: 20; 1st: 7; 2nd: 1; 3rd: 3; Win & Place prize money: £40,411

OwnerWarnedOff
J P McManus
Few people have enjoyed a closer association with jump racing in the last 30 years than John Patrick ’J P’ McManus, who was born on a farm in Co Limerick on March 10, 1951 and attended the Christian Brothers school on Sexton Street, Limerick. He left his father’s plant hire business at the age of 20 to become a racecourse bookmaker, but then took the less well-trodden route of gamekeeper-turned-poacher to be a professional punter. McManus recalls one of his first bets as being on Merryman II in the 1960 Grand National when he was just nine, but the bet that changed his life was £4 on Linden Tree in a Newmarket maiden in 1970, the horse winning at 100/8. He had another £4 on when Linden Tree won the Observer Gold Cup at 25/1, and £5 each-way at 33/1 for the Derby, when the horse beat all bar Mill Reef. The amount he wagered grew rapidly and he is still one of the highest-staking punters on the racecourse.

Dubbed “the Sundance Kid” by journalist Hugh Mcllvanney after a number of major gambles in the ring during the 1970s, he is also the biggest jump owner in terms of numbers in Britain, Ireland and France (some 300 horses spread over 50 trainers ran for him last season) after he purchased his first racehorse, Cill Dara, at the age of 26. He has a host of business interests including dealing on the financial markets from his Geneva, Switzerland base and part-ownership of the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados, where he also has a house. With John Magnier, he bought a 28.7% stake in Manchester United through the Cubic Expression company before subsequently selling out to US tycoon Malcolm Glazer in 2005. He was in the news shortly after that because of his stake in the pub and restaurant operator Mitchells and Butler. In 2012, the Sunday Times estimated McManus’ wealth at £471 million, making him the 14th richest person in Ireland.

Since Mister Donovan landed the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 1982, he has enjoyed 38 other Cheltenham Festival successes, headed by the great three-time Champion Hurdle hero Istabraq. In 2010, he won a fourth Champion Hurdle with Binocular, while the 2012 Festival yielded five more successes headed by Synchronised’s gutsy success in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, but he had to wait to final day this year before gaining two successes. McManus does a lot of work for charity and his Pro-Am golf tournament, which takes place every five years and has raised over 95 million euros. McManus is also a keen backgammon player and a big hurling fan.

He owns Jackdaws Castle, the Gloucestershire yard that Jonjo O’Neill trains from, and has invested heavily in improving facilities since purchasing the property in 2001. He was British champion owner for the 2005/6, 2006/7, 2008/9, 2009/10 and 2011/12 seasons. A full 28 years after his runner in the race, McManus finally achieved a long-held ambition when Don’t Push It won the 2010 John Smith’s Grand National. Last year, Sunnyhillboy went agonisingly close to giving McManus a second success when beaten a nose by the Paul Nicholls-trained Neptune Collonges. John Smith’s Grand National Record: 1982 Deep Gale (Fell 1st), 1988 Bucko (PU bef 27th), 1992 Laura’s Beau (3rd), 1994 Laura’s Beau (Fell 6th), 1996 Wylde Hide (UR 24th), 1997 Wylde Hide (UR 22nd); 1998 Gimme Five (5th), 2002 Spot Thedifference (UR 27th); 2003 Youlneverwalkalone (PU bef 13th); 2004 Clan Royal (2nd), Spot Thedifference (5th), Risk Accessor (UR 6th), Le Coudray (Fell 22nd); 2005 Innox (7th), Spot Thedifference (18th), Shamawan (21st), Clan Royal (CO 22nd), Le Coudray (PU before 21st), Risk Accessor (UR 2nd); 2006 Clan Royal (3rd), Risk Accessor (5th), Innox (Fell 1st), First Gold (UR 23rd); 2007 L’Ami (10th), Clan Royal (11th); 2008 King Johns Castle (2nd), L’Ami (Fell 2nd), Bob Hall (PU bef 19th), Butler’s Cabin (Fell 22nd); 2009 Butler’s Cabin (7th), Reveillez (BD 3rd), Can’t Buy Time (Fell 18th), L’Ami (PU bef 30th); 2010 DON’T PUSH IT (WON), Can’t Buy Time (Fell 8th), Arbor Supreme (UR 15th), King Johns Castle (refused to race); 2011 Don’t Push It (3rd), Blue Sea Cracker (14th), Quolibet (UR 11th), Can’t Buy Time (Fell 18th), Arbor Supreme (Fell 28th); 2012 Sunnyhillboy (2nd), Synchronised (Fell 6th), Arbor Supreme (UR 10th), Quiscover Fontaine (Fell 17th)

Trainer
Jonjo O’Neill (Jackdaws Castle, Gloucestershire)
Jonjo O’Neill (born April 13, 1952) was a highly successful jump jockey and has established himself at the top of the training ranks. In spite of an appalling list of injuries, he was champion jockey twice (1977/78 and 1979/80), and he set a then record for a season of 149 winners in his first championship year. The most sensational moment of his riding career came when he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Dawn Run in 1986 as the mare became the only horse to win that trophy after having previously taken the Champion Hurdle (1984), again with O’Neill in the saddle.

He also won the Gold Cup on Alverton in 1979, though he had a dreadful record in the Grand National, in which he never completed the course in spite of having eight rides. He retired from the saddle at the end of the 1985/86 season and, having survived lymphatic cancer not long after that, started training near Penrith, Cumbria, in 1987. He forged a reputation with horses such as Vicario Di Bray, winner of the 1989 Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock, and Legal Right, who landed the Grade Three Tripleprint Gold Cup at Cheltenham in 1999 and went on to capture the BGC Silver Cup at Ascot as well as the Grade Two Tommy Whittle Chase.

He moved to his present base at Jackdaws Castle in Gloucestershire, not far from Cheltenham, when the yard was bought by owner J P McManus in 2001. In 2010, he finally broke his Grand National duck when saddling Don’t Push It to victory for McManus, who had been trying to win the race since 1982. A P (Tony) McCoy rode the gelding, gaining a first success at the 15th attempt. O’Neill’s other victories at the Aintree Festival as a trainer include Quazar in the John Smith’s Anniversary 4Yo Novices’ Hurdle in 2002, Clan Royal in the 2003 John Smith’s Topham Chase, Iris’s Gift (2003) and Black Jack Ketchum (2006) in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, Iris’s Gift in the 2004 John Smith’s Liverpool Long Distance Hurdle, Exotic Dancer (2007) in the Betfred Bowl and Albertas Run (2010) in the Melling Chase.

His 22 Cheltenham Festival victories include five wins in the National Hunt Chase, the JCB Triumph Hurdle with Spectroscope, the 2004 Ladbrokes World Hurdle with Iris’s Gift and the three victories of Albertas Run in the RSA Chase (2007) and the Ryanair Chase (2010 & 2011). Last season, Synchronised gave him one of his biggest successes when capturing the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup at The Festival. John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2003 Carbury Cross (7th); 2004 Clan Royal (2nd), Joss Naylor (PU bef 19th); 2005 Simply Gifted (3rd), Shamawan (21st), Native Emperor (UR 9th), Clan Royal (CO bef 22nd); 2006 Clan Royal (3rd), Risk Accessor (5th); 2007 Clan Royal (11th); 2008 Bob Hall (PU bef 19th), Butler’s Cabin (Fell 22nd); 2009 Butler’s Cabin (7th), Reveillez (BD 3rd), Can’t Buy Time (Fell 18th); 2010 DON’T PUSH IT (WON), Can’t Buy Time (Fell 8t h); 2011 Don’t Push It (3rd), Quolibet (UR 11th), Can’t Buy Time (Fell 18th); 2012 Sunnyhillboy (2nd), Synchronised (Fell 6th) Arbor Supreme (UR 10th)

Oscar Time Factfile for 2013 Grand National

Oscar Time

OSCAR TIME (IRE) FACTFILE
b g Oscar (IRE) – Baywatch Star (IRE) (Supreme Leader)
12-10-011 Form:4243/2123217/23232214F/73152/2632/4-4U60
Owners: Robert Waley-Cohen/Sir Martin & Steve Broughton Trainer: Martin Lynch IRE Breeder: Edmond Coleman

I’m grateful to Racenews for supplying factfiles for every runner in the John Smith’s Grand National. I reformat these and publish as I get them, with the first batch coming out 2 weeks before the big race on April 6th. By the eve of the National all factfiles will be published here. You can find others by clicking on the factfiles tag at the foot of this post

Oscar Time
Oscar Time, born on May 14, 2001, passed through the sales ring for 37,000 euros as a three-year-old at Tattersalls Ireland in August, 2004, with Martin Lynch the buyer. As a four-year-old at Goffs in May, 2005, Emerald Bloodstock paid 40,000 euros for him. The gelding started his racing career at Martin Lynch’s Stepaside yard in the ownership of Navan-based Eamon Kane. Having made his debut with a fourth place in a Roscommon bumper in October, 2006, Oscar Time won at the sixth attempt in that sphere, defeating subsequent Grade One winner Weapon’s Amnesty by half a length at Thurles in January, 2008.

A victory over hurdles followed that April but his biggest success to date came over fences when winning the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown in December, 2009, in which he defeated Siegemaster by seven lengths. In April, 2010, Oscar Time showed his potential for the John Smith’s Grand National when finishing runner-up to Bluesea Cracker in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse. Following that effort, Robert Waley-Cohen purchased the gelding and later sold a half share to Sir Martin Broughton and his brother Steve. The 2010/11 season was geared around a tilt at the John Smith’s Grand National and Oscar Time started the campaign with two promising efforts in hurdle races at Thurles and Fairyhouse in November and December respectively.

He completed his preparation for Aintree with a third-placed finish in the Grade Two Bobbjo Chase at Fairyhouse in March, 2011. He ran a tremendous race in the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National for his amateur pilot Sam Waley-Cohen but was just outstayed on the elbow by Ballabriggs and came home a gallant second. A second tilt at the John Smith’s Grand National was on the agenda last season but, after finishing fourth behind Zaidpour in a hurdle at Thurles in November, 2011, Oscar Time was ruled out for the season with a tendon problem. He made his comeback at Thurles on November 29, 2012, and ran respectably in fourth before unseating Sam Waley-Cohen in the Grade Two Kinloch Brae Chase at the same course on January 17. He has disappointed in his two runs since, trailing home last in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse on February 23, and the Leinster National at Naas on March 10.
Race Record: Starts: 34; Wins; 4; 2nd: 11; 3rd; 6: Win & Place Prize Money: £396,555

OwnersWarnedOff

Robert Waley-Cohen/Sir Martin & Steve Broughton
Cheltenham Racecourse chairman Robert Waley-Cohen enjoyed his greatest day as an owner in March, 2011, when his amateur rider son Sam Waley-Cohen partnered Long Run to win the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, trained by long-time friend Nicky Henderson. The gelding, at six the youngest Gold Cup winner since Mill House in 1963, had landed the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton in December, aged five.

Although Robert Waley-Cohen rode in point-to-points and hunter chases, he described himself as an incredibly bad amateur – “Wrong shape, wrong weight, not fit enough – basically, just thoroughly incompetent”. Born on November 10, 1948 and the founder of healthcare giant Alliance Medical, Robert Waley-Cohen is no stranger to big-race success at Cheltenham as his Katarino won the 1999 JCB Triumph Hurdle, Rustle took what is now the Ladbrokes World Hurdle in 1989, Liberthine collected the 2005 Byrne Group Plate and Rajdhani Express won the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase this season. He trains a few horses himself under permit and sent out Katarino to win the John Smith’s Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree in 2005 and 2006 again ridden by Sam.

A member of the Jockey Club since 1983, where he has been a steward, he has a small team of around 10 broodmares at Upton Viva Stud in Warwickshire and was a director of Cheltenham Racecourse before becoming chairman when Lord Vestey stepped down at the end of the 2010/11 season. He has horses in training with Guillaume Macaire in France as well as Nicky Henderson. His son Tom died of cancer in July, 2004, and Tom’s Ward at Oxford Children’s Hospital is named after him.

He is married to Felicity and they also have another son Marcus and a daughter Jessica. Sir Martin Broughton and his twin brother Steve also have a 50 per cent share in Oscar Time. The twins were born on April 15, 1947 in Fulham, London, and Sir Martin recalls the 1956 Grand National, when Devon Loch collapsed 50 yards from the winning post, as being one of his earliest memories: “I listened to it on the radio – we didn’t have a TV until I was 17 or 18 – and the reason I recall it is not just the obvious one. My father’s name was Edward Samuel Broughton and, because the winner was called ESB, you can guess who he backed.”

Their interest was further fuelled with the Christmas gift of a Totopoly board game in 1960. Despite only leaving school “with a handful of Cs and Ds”, Sir Martin joined British American Tobacco (BAT) as an auditor in 1971 and by 1988 had become finance director in 1988 and chairman in 1998. He left BAT in 2004 to become chairman of British Airways and served as chairman of the then British Horseracing Board from 2004 to 2007. Despite being a lifelong Chelsea supporter, in April, 2010, he was appointed chairman of Liverpool FC and oversaw the sale of the club to new owners in October, 2010.

He was awarded a knighthood in the 2011 New Year’s Honours List for his services to industry and – with son Michael – is involved with Sports Investment Partners, which unsuccessfully bid to take over the Tote two years ago. Steve Broughton is an insurance industry veteran, who served as managing director of Royal SunAlliance, and is currently a director of Tesco Underwriting. With his brother, he launched Ingenie, a company aimed at younger drivers in which other backers include Gary Lineker.
John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2003 Katarino (UR 15th); 2007 Liberthine (5th); 2011 Oscar Time (2nd)

Trainer

Martin Lynch IRE (Castletown-Geoghegan, County Westmeath)
Martin Lynch (born June 6, 1958) is a former jockey who enjoyed his biggest day in the saddle when winning the 1990 Vincent O’Brien Gold Cup on the John Upson-trained Nick The Brief. The Meath native learned his trade as an amateur rider with Clem Magnier and John Fowler, winning the Morgiana Hurdle on Fowler’s Royal Dipper. After turning professional, Lynch won the 1985 Thyestes Chase aboard Seskin Bridge and was second to Rhyme N’ Reason on the same horse in that year’s Irish Grand National. He rode Elfast to win the Mildmay Of Flete at the 1992 Cheltenham Festival and in two rides in the Grand National, fared best on 10th-placed Cool Ground in 1992.

After taking out a trainer’s licence in Ireland, he leased Bill Durkan’s yard at Glencairn before relocating shortly afterwards to Middleton Park in County Westmeath. As a trainer, he enjoyed the biggest success of his career when Oscar Time landed the 190,000 euros Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown in December, 2009. He is married to former trainer Suzanne Finn, a herbalist and acupuncturist, who is credited by the trainer with helping prepare the fussy eater Oscar Time for the Paddy Power Chase. He also trained the high-class Colonel Yeager to finish fourth in the 1999 Grade One Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Lynch has never trained more than five winners in a season, which he achieved in the 1995/96 and 1996/97 seasons.
John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2011 Oscar Time (2nd)

Rare Bob Factfile for 2013 Grand National

Rare Bob

RARE BOB (IRE) FACTFILE
b g Bob Back – Cut Ahead (Kalaglow)
11-10-06 Form: 3/274333339/1d431414/15333P/0381PU/345053B0-643
Owner: D A Syndicate Trainer: Dessie Hughes IRE Breeder: Don Hadden

I’m grateful to Racenews for supplying factfiles for every runner in the John Smith’s Grand National. I reformat these and publish as I get them, with the first batch coming out 2 weeks before the big race on April 6th. By the eve of the National all factfiles will be published here. You can find others by clicking on the factfiles tag at the foot of this post

Rare Bob
Rare Bob’s family has already experienced success at the Grand National meeting as his high-class half-brother Tiutchev scored the last of 12 victories in the Martell Cognac Cup (now the Betfred Bowl) in 2004. Tiutchev, by Soviet Star, was bred for and started his career on the Flat before graduating to jumps, but Rare Bob, by top jump sire Bob Back and born on May 16, 2002,, always had a jumping career planned.

When he was sold at auction as a foal €37,000 foal in 2001, Tiutchev had already won an Arkle Trophy and an Ascot Chase; by the time he made €125,000 as a three-year-old, his older brother had added another Grade One and had been placed in both the William Hill King George VI Chase and the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. It took Rare Bob 14 runs to get off the mark, a sequence of losses that included five thirds in a row and a disqualification for a wayward course after beating Trafford Lad a short-head in a novice chase at Punchestown in October, 2008.

His first victory also came at Punchestown three months later, when he beat the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National runner-up Oscar Time, and he returned there for the April Festival in 2009 to account for Gone To Lunch and Joncol in the Grade One Champion Novice Chase. His sole success in 22 runs since came at Leopardstown in January last year. Rare Bob has paid four previous visits to Aintree, two of them over the Grand National fences – he was fifth on heavy ground in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase in December, 2011, and was brought down at the fifth fence in last year’s John Smith’s Grand National.

In a typical preparation for this year’s race, Rare Bob made one start over hurdles before the unveiling of the weights, coming home sixth at Thurles on January 17, and has since posted two pleasing efforts over fences. He kept on to finish fourth behind fellow Aintree contenders Prince De Beauchene and Seabass in the Grade Two Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse on February 23 and made late headway to take third for a second successive year in the Leinster National at Naas on March 10.
Race Record: Starts: 40; Wins: 4; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 14; Win & Place Prize Money: £191,267

OwnersWarnedOff

The D A Syndicate
‘D A’ stands for ‘Dessie’s Army’, a fond tribute to trainer Dessie Hughes who trains for the seven-strong group of friends who make up the syndicate. They come from Counties Carlow, Wickford and Kildare and have business interests in printing, packaging, building development and estate agency among others – the group includes Lar Byrne, who owned the dual Champion Hurdle winner Hardy Eustace.

The D A Syndicate was formed when a number of Hughes’s owners went to India to see the trainer’s son Richard ride in the 2000 Indian Derby. Hughes won the race on Smart Chieftain, and buoyed by the victory the group pledged to get involved in ownership as a syndicate. The plan to buy Rare Bob, their best horse to date and their first John Smith’s Grand National runner, was hatched at Royal Ascot at York in 2005. A few weeks later at Tattersalls’ Ireland’s Derby Sale he was bought for €125,000 as an unraced three-year-old, but he has since won more than €200,000.
John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2012 Rare Bob (BD 5th)

Trainer

Dessie Hughes IRE (Curragh, County Kildare)
A highly successful jockey, Dessie Hughes (born October 10, 1943) partnered Davy Lad to win the 1977 Cheltenham Gold Cup and returned to Prestbury Park three years later to ride Monksfield to victory in the Champion Hurdle. He had four rides in the Grand National, including Davy Lad, but never managed to complete the course. Having always had one eye on the future, Dessie prepared his yard for three years before finally taking out a training licence in 1980 and the winners soon started flowing, including a first Cheltenham Festival victory as a trainer when Miller Hall took the 1982 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

His yard was struck down by a persistent fungal problem in the late 1980s which resulted in Hughes enduring several years of poor form, but the trainer began churning out the winners again in the late 1990s, with horses such as Guest Performance, Rathbawn Prince and Grade One winner Colonel Braxton being standard bearers. But it would be Hardy Eustace who would provide Hughes with some of his finest hours as a trainer.

Owned by long-standing patron Lar Byrne, the Archway gelding won the Grade One Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle at the 2003 Cheltenham Festival before returning a year later take the Champion Hurdle under a superbly judged ride from Conor O’Dwyer. Hardy Eustace went on to victory at the Punchestown Festival and returned to Prestbury Park the following year for another victory in the Champion Hurdle, becoming the first horse since Istabraq to successfully defend his crown. Central House was another outstanding performer for Hughes, winning five Grade Two contests as well as a Grade One Novices’ Chase at Leopardstown.

Schindlers Hunt emerged as another star, winning two Grade One events as a novice chaser and finishing the head runner-up in the Grade One John Smith’s Melling Chase at Aintree in 2009. Black Apalachi has gone closest to giving him a John Smith’[s Grand National winner, finishing second in 2010. Hughes has unearthed another potential star hurdler this season in Our Conor, who routed the opposition in the JCB Triumph Hurdle to give his trainer a sixth success at the Cheltenham Festival.

Hughes also holds the notable feat of saddling a winner on nine consecutive racing days during the 2006 Christmas period, while his son Richard was crowned champion Flat jockey in Britain for the first time in 2012. John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2008 Black Apalachi (Fell 2nd), 2009 Black Apalachi (UR 22nd); 2010 Black Apalachi (2nd), Vic Venturi (UR 20th); 2011 In Compliance (13th), Vic Venturi (BD 2nd); 2012 In Compliance (6th), Rare Bob (BD 6th), Black Apalachi (Fell 8th), Vic Venturi (Ref 19th)