national 2011 /
Midnight Chase Aims for Gold Cup Glory before John Smith's Grand National 02/03/11
Midnight Chase is 25/1 with totesport for the £950,000 John Smith’s Grand National over four and a half miles at Aintree on Saturday, April 9, and the progressive gelding’s participation will be decided after he contests the totesport Gold Cup at Cheltenham in a little over two weeks.
The Neil Mulholland-trained nine-year-old is one of 82 entries remaining in the world’s most famous chase after the first scratchings deadline, details of which are revealed today.
Midnight Chase carries the colours of Lady Clarke who, along with her late husband Sir Stan Clarke, won the John Smith’s Grand National with Lord Gyllene in 1997. The gelding has won six of his last seven starts, the most recent three victories coming at Cheltenham, and was last seen landing a Listed handicap chase over an extended three miles and a furlong at the Prestbury Park course on December 10.
Mulholland revealed today: “Midnight Chase is going for the Cheltenham Gold Cup first and we’ll see after that what will be on the agenda for him. No decisions will be made until we see how he is after Cheltenham.
“He’s a horse that is improving and if he improves just that little bit more he is a lively contender, but until we run him in the Gold Cup, we don’t know. If he does run a big race at Cheltenham we could decide to keep him for next year’s Grand National - we’ll have to see.
“He has got 11st 8lb at Aintree. That is high but we’re not worrying about that at the minute. He’s a Cheltenham specialist and the Gold Cup is the focus - his only other entry is in the Grand National, so other than that he has no fixed agenda and we’ll see what happens at The Festival.
“I’m absolutely delighted with his progress since his last run - I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Only the great Golden Miller has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and John Smith’s Grand National in the same year (1934). The most recent Gold Cup hero to come close was the Jenny Pitman-trained Garrison Savannah, who triumphed in the Cheltenham showpiece in 1991 and was just touched off by Seagram in the Aintree spectacular a couple of weeks later.
After winning the John Smith’s Grand National in 2005, the Willie Mullins-trained Hedgehunter finished runner-up in both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the John Smith’s Grand National in 2006, while Rough Quest was second in the 1996 Gold Cup and won the Aintree showpiece 16 days later.
L’Escargot, a Gold Cup winner in 1970 and 1971, went on to Aintree glory in 1975.
As expected, Neptune Collonges has been taken out, leaving last years winner Don’t Push It (20/1) as clear top-weight.
Don’t Push It provided owner J P McManus, trainer Jonjo O’Neill and champion jockey A P (Tony) McCoy each with a first win in the race, and heads the handicap on 11st 10lb, followed by the Howard Johnson-trained dual Grade One winner Tidal Bay (40/1) on 11st 9lb.
The Midnight Club is the current 12/1 favourite with totesport following his victory in the Grade Two Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse on February 23 for Hedgehunter’s trainer Willie Mullins.
totesport’s latest betting:
12 The Midnight Club, 14 Ballabriggs, Silver By Nature, 16 Arbor Supreme, Backstage, Niche Market, Oscar Time, 20 Big Fella Thanks, Don’t Push It, Merigo, Synchronised, West End Rocker, 25 Becauseicouldntsee, Bluesea Cracker, Hello Bud, Majestic Concorde, Midnight Chase, Notre Pere, State Of Play, Vic Venturi, 33 Ballytrim, Calgary Bay, Chief Dan George, Giles Cross, I’moncloudnine, In Compliance, One Cool Cookie, Our Monty, What A Friend, 40 Ballyfitz, Character Building, Dooneys Gate, Gullible Gordon, Killyglen, Meanus Dandy, Northern Alliance, Surface To Air, The Tother One, Tidal Bay, Tricky Trickster, 50 Belon Gale, Can’t Buy Time, Comply Or Die, Deep Purple, Frankie Figg, Galant Nuit, Golden Kite, Junior, King Fontaine, Or Noir de Somoza, Ornais, Quinz, Quolibet, Saddlers Storm, Skippers Brig, Nedzers Return, Tatenen, 66 Always Waining, Ambobo, Grand Slam Hero, Le Beau Bai, Pomme Tiepy, Roll Along, Royal Rosa, Sagalyrique, Scotsirish, Snowy Morning, The Sawyer, The Sliotar, Toby Jug, Treacle, 100 Askthemaster, Dev, Dream Alliance, Duers, Faasel, Piraya, Putney Bridge, Santas Son, Starzaan, That’s Rhythm, 150 Regal Heights. Each-way ¼ 1-2-3-4