Joint-Favourites Head The John Smith's Grand National Betting 30/03/09
Butler’s Cabin (8/1) and My Will (8/1) continue to share favouritism at the head of the betting market for Saturday’s John Smith’s Grand National, following the five-day confirmation stage. The odds are from totesport, the official betting partner of the John Smith’s Grand National meeting.
Champion jockey Tony McCoy, seeking a first victory in the Aintree showpiece, could partner the Jonjo O’Neill-trained 2007 Irish Grand National winner Butler’s Cabin for his main patron, owner J P McManus, who is also hoping to break his duck in the big race. McManus is set to run a further trio of Reveillez, Can’t Buy Time and L’Ami, with McCoy expected to choose one of the owner’s quartet later this week.
Ruby Walsh, fresh from a record-breaking seven winners at the Cheltenham Festival, is set to take the mount on the Paul Nicholls-trained My Will, who ran an eye-catching trial for the big race when fifth to Kauto Star in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Nicholls could saddle four runners in all with the market mover Cornish Sett, Big Fella Thanks and the injury-prone Eurotrek, winner of the 2006 totesport.com Becher Chase over the Grand National fences, primed for action.
Comply Or Die provided David Pipe with the biggest thrill of his short training career when winning 12 months ago and will attempt to become the first since Red Rum in 1974 to gain back-to-back wins.
Meanwhile, the 2007 hero Silver Birch will try and emulate Red Rum, who in 1977 was the most recent horse to regain his crown.
New top-weight Cloudy Lane (11st 10lb), following the expected withdrawals of Snoopy Loopy and Nozic, will be bidding to thrust the McCain name back into the John Smith’s Grand National spotlight. The nine-year-old finished sixth in last year’s race when 7/1 joint favourite and will again take his chance for Donald McCain, son of Ginger McCain, who won the great race four times thanks to the legendary Red Rum (1973, 1974 & 1977) and Amberleigh House (2004).
Rambling Minster, at 10/1, aims to give the Reveley family a day to remember. The 11-year-old, winner of the Blue Square Gold Cup at Haydock in February, is trained in Cleveland by Keith Reveley and will be partnered by his son, James Reveley.
Irish-trained horses have carried off six of the last 10 renewals of the world’s greatest steeplechase and, with 20 contenders holding their ground five days short of raceday, the tricolours could be flying once again at the weekend.
Kildare handler Dessie Hughes is responsible for 14/1 shot Black Apalachi, a faller at the second fence last year but successful in the totesport.com Becher Chase over the Grand National fences in November. He proved his well-being with victory in the Grade Three Bobbyjo Chase in February.
The Willie Mullins-trained Snowy Morning, 25/1, was second in that Fairyhouse contest and connections hope he can improve upon his third behind Comply Or Die last year.
War Of Attrition, 14/1, landed the 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup for trainer Mouse Morris and owner Michael O’Leary, who races under the Gigginstown House Stud banner, and is set to shoulder 11st 9lb. The owner/trainer combination could be double-handed thanks to 2008 Irish Grand National victor Hear The Echo, with O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, also has Dix Villez with trainer Paul Nolan but that one is unlikely to get a run.
No Welsh-trained runner has prevailed in the Grand National since 1905 when Kirkland, trained in Pembrokeshire by E Thomas, landed the spoils at 6/1. Glamorgan trainer Evan Williams is hoping to rewrite the record books and give Wales its second Grand National winner with 2007 Hennessy Gognac Gold Cup hero State Of Play.
Nigel Twiston-Davies trains in Gloucestershire and is the most successful current handler in the John Smith’s Grand National with two successes, thanks to Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002). He has five hopefuls in Knowhere, Ollie Magern, Fundamentalist, Battlecry and Beat The Boys.
The last horse to get into the 2009 John Smith’s Grand National at the moment is Kelami, the 40th in the handicap. But that could change when current ratings of the three horses on 10st 5lb are assessed later this week - the other two with that weight are Idle Talk and Zabenz.
PREIST’S LEAP OF FAITH
Trainer Tom O’Leary would love to see the clouds gather over Aintree this week, for every drop of rain that falls on the Grand National course will be added assistance to his confirmed mudlark Preist’s Leap.
“Sure, it would be helpful to see the ground softer, but if it doesn’t rain we’re not going to let that stop us enjoying ourselves,” said the 35-year-old from Clonakilty in County Cork.
Preist’s Leap, who travels to Aintree tomorrow, was bought by owner John D O’Donohue in 2003 after his wife died from cancer.
“Shortly before she died, she told John he should have his own horse - he’d been part of syndicates before - so obviously the horse is very special to us,” said O’Leary.
The cost of 33,000 euros at Tattersalls, Ireland, has been more than repaid, as the horse has won four races and over £140,000 in prize money.
The majority of that prize money has come from the horse’s two victories in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park. Preist’s Leap won that race last year and this year, both times at the generous odds of 20/1, and is one of only two horses to double up in the race.
Winning the Thyestes Chase could also be a pointer to their horse’s chance at Aintree as previous winners of the Gowran Park event include Hedgehunter and Numbersixvalverde, winners of the John Smith’s Grand National in 2005 and 2006 respectively. “It’s not a bad omen, is it?” the trainer said.
O’Leary, who briefly worked with Aidan O’Brien, started his training career 10 years ago with just a single horse in the yard, called Vanhoutonscoco, who finished last on his first outing and 10th on his only other run. O’Leary now has 20 horses in his yard.
FLOOD BOOKED FOR HIMALAYAN
Paddy Flood has been booked to ride the Jimmy Mangan-trained Himalayan Trail in Saturday’s John Smith’s Grand National. Himalayan Trail, who won last year’s Midlands National at Uttoxeter when trained by Sue Smith, will be attempting to give Mangan a second success in the Grand National, the trainer having been successful in 2003 with Monty’s Pass.
For Flood, who enjoyed his first-ever success at the Cheltenham Festival when Ninetieth Minute won this year’s Coral Cup Hurdle, it will be his second mount in the Grand National. Last year, the 22-year-old finished eighth on Baily Breeze.
MCCOY AND WALSH SET TO FIGHT OUT NATIONAL FAVOURITISM SAYS TOTESPORT - OFFICIAL BETTING PARTNER OF AINTREE RACECOURSE
George Primarolo, spokesman for totesport, the John Smith’s Grand National’s official betting partner, commented: “As things stand, we can’t split Butler’s Cabin and My Will at 8/1. We had joint-favourites last year with Comply Or Die and Cloudy Lane and if McCoy decides to ride Butler’s Cabin, it looks very muck like it will be a straight match-up between Tony McCoy and Ruby Walsh, who rides My Will. Unless McCoy opts for another mount, or a screamer comes out of nowhere, I expect that will be the story heading into Saturday.
“McCoy may have been the perennial punters’ pal in the past but with Ruby’s magnificent seven fresh in the memory from Cheltenham, it could well be that we have a new people’s champion come the off.”
“It appears that punters have cottoned on to the good ground horses and I expect to see them supported as the week goes on.
“In the early part of last week we saw money for War Of Attrition and then, from Thursday until Saturday, L’Ami was the mover. We also had a bit of interest in Brooklyn Brownie, as well as Darkness, at the weekend and Cornish Sett has been backed since last night.”
Totesport have also gone non-runner, no bet, on the Grand National from this (Monday) morning onwards.
The going at Aintree on Monday, March 30, is:
MILDMAY COURSE - Good
GRAND NATIONAL COURSE - Good, Good to Soft in places
Andrew Tulloch, Clerk of the Course & Director of Racing at Aintree, commented: “We watered the Mildmay course today and applied between four and six millimetres of water.
“Tomorrow, we will water the Grand National course and will be putting down between three and six millimetres of moisture.
“Chris Dennis, the BHA’s Northern Course Inspector, was at Aintree today. He had a look round and was very happy with the condition of the two courses. He was pleased we had taken the decision to start watering.
“The course has really come on in the last week in terms of grass growth and we will be monitoring whether to water on a day-to-day basis. We will continue to water to maintain good ground.
“The forecast is for a generally dry week. It has been overcast today.”
Emma Owen of Aintree Racecourse today reported good demand for tickets and badges at this year’s John Smith’s Grand National meeting which begins on Thursday, April 2.
She said: “We have been pleased with the demand this year and we are marginally ahead on sales for Saturday, John Smith’s Grand National day, compared to last year.
“There is limited availability for both Friday and Saturday, but plenty of room on Thursday.”
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