According To Pete On Course for John Smith's Grand National
Trainer Malcolm Jefferson is hoping that According To Pete can continue his excellent recent form in this year’s £975,000 John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, April 14.
According To Pete has posted a pair of Grade Three handicap chase victories on his most recent starts as he made all of the running to take the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby on December 26 and followed up with another excellent round of jumping to win the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock Park on January 21. The 11-year-old is generally rated a 25/1 chance in the Grand National betting odds.
Jefferson revealed: “According To Pete is in great form at the moment. We are just waiting to see what weight he receives on Tuesday before committing him but the John Smith’s Grand National is very high on his agenda because I think that the race will suit him.
“You would be hopeful that he will be allotted less than 11st but it’s very hard to tell what mark you will get.
“We might give him one more start beforehand in the Premier Chase at Kelso. It’s a long time between now and the John Smith’s Grand National but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he went straight to Aintree. It would be nice to give him a pipe-opener beforehand.
“He won his two most recent starts this term but he didn’t really do a lot wrong last season. He was only just beaten at Catterick and made a mistake at the last and nearly fell when going down by a head to Skippers Brig in a decent race at Haydock.
“He’s won on all types of ground and he goes on anything and everything. The Peter Marsh Chase was a bit of a slog through heavy ground but he has won on good going as well. I would think that the ground will be on softer side of good this year for the John Smith’s Grand National.
“I can’t see my other entry King Fontaine getting into the John Smith’s Grand National, which is a pity because he ran quite well in the race last year. Things have just gone wrong for him this year and I don’t really know why. I thought that he was just coming back to himself at Wetherby but then he fell at the second in the Peter Marsh Chase.
“He’s come down a fair bit in the weights and, all being well, he will go back to Haydock for the Grand National Trial before probably heading to Ayr for the Scottish Grand National.”
A total of 82 entries were made for the 2012 John Smith’s Grand National on January 31 and they include two of the past three winners, Ballabriggs and Mon Mome. Grade One Lexus Chase victor Synchronised has been entered and represents the owner/trainer combination of J P McManus and Jonjo O’Neill, who were successful with Don’t Push It in 2010.
HANDICAPPER PHIL SMITH SAYS 2012 JOHN SMITH’S GRAND NATIONAL IS A HIGH-QUALITY RACE
The task of handicapping the John Smith’s Grand National, run over four and a half miles and 30 fences, falls to Phil Smith, Head of Handicapping at the British Horseracing Authority.
The John Smith’s Grand National is the only race in the calendar where Smith can use his discretion to determine the weights, rather than purely rely on ratings.
Smith, who first framed the weights for the Aintree spectacular in 1999, believes the 2012 renewal will be a race full of quality.
He said: “Even though the number of entries for the John Smith’s Grand National is lower this year, there are more horses rated 145 plus than there were in 2011, which obviously shows that the race is going in the right direction.
“The other point to note is that the percentage of entries rated over 135 is the highest ever. The 2012 John Smith’s Grand National is a high-quality race and I am still working on the handicap. The high quality of the entries doesn’t make my job more difficult but certainly makes it more interesting as it is always more fun to deal with good horses.
“A whole host of horses were entered over the past five to 10 years that never had any hope of getting a run. All that is happening now is that owners and trainers are being more realistic and only entering horses which have a good chance of lining up in the race.”
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