Co Kildare handler Tom Taaffe has revealed that Slim Pickings will become his first ever runner in the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree in nine days time.
The talented eight-year-old, previously handled by Robert Tyner, for
whom his biggest success came in a Grade Three novice chase at Punchestown
last season, was making only his second start for Taaffe when running
a fine fifth behind Idole First in the Grade Three Racing Post Plate,
over two miles and five furlongs, at Cheltenham on March 15.
Taaffe, who trained the 2005 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kicking
King, said today: “Slim Pickings is bang on course for the John
Smith’s Grand National and is in super form. He has come out of
Cheltenham terribly well. This morning he schooled over some Aintree-type
fences under Barry Geraghty, who will ride him in the National.
“We’ll only find out on the day if he’ll enjoy the
big fences, but he strikes me as the type who will enjoy the track at
Aintree. The trip is another thing that we won’t know about until
we try it, but I am hopeful on that score.
“He has lots of pace and travelled like the winner at Cheltenham
coming down the hill. They say Aintree is the place for a two and a half
mile horses, so we’ll find out if that’s correct.
“The ground at Aintree does not concern me because I know they are watering to ensure that the going is not too quick. Genuine good ground is probably what he wants.”
Although Slim Pickings fell at the final fence in the Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran Park in January on his first outing for Taaffe - the second fall of his racing career - his trainer is not unduly concerned heading to Liverpool on Saturday week.
He continued: “Aintree is a law unto itself and anything can happen,
but on the whole our fellow is a good jumper, and we have been happy
with the way he has jumped since he’s been here.
“Slim Pickings will be my first ever National runner, but you have to do things for the first time. I had never had a runner in the Cheltenham Gold Cup until I ran Kicking King!
“The horse suits the race and has a lovely racing weight off 10st 8lb. We run a professional outfit and that’s why he’s going for the race. We wouldn’t be travelling over unless we felt he had a chance, and if you’re not in, you can’t win.”
The John Smith’s Grand National meeting is one of the highlights
of the sporting year and offers three days of fantastic entertainment
(Thursday, April 12 - Saturday, April 14), the pinnacle of which is the
world’s most famous steeplechase, the spectacular £700,000
John Smith’s Grand National.
The great race sees a maximum of 40 horses and riders compete over four and a half miles, jumping 30 fences, in a thrilling display that is watched by an estimated 600 million people worldwide.
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