Killyglen Has Power for National Bid
Stuart Crawford is hoping Killyglen (10st 10lb) can bring home a victory for Northern Ireland in the £950,000 John Smith’s Grand National (4.15pm) at Aintree on Saturday, April 9, when the nine-year-old gelding will have the assistance in the saddle of previous winner Robbie Power.
The son of Presenting (40/1 with totesport , the official betting partner of the John Smith’s Grand National) heads for the world’s most famous chase off the back of a winless season, but he is no stranger to big-race success at Aintree’s John Smith’s Grand National meeting, having captured the Grade Two Mildmay Novices’ Chase over the smaller fences of the Mildmay course in 2009, when trained by Howard Johnson.
Crawford draws further confidence from the fact that Killyglen has shown good form in a light campaign, and although only sixth after making much of the running under top-weight when fancied to put up a bold show in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster on March 5, the trainer feels that run may have been better than the bare result suggests.
The Larne, County Antrim handler, who represented Ireland at eventing, revealed today: “I was happy enough with the way the horse went at Doncaster but I just think they went too fast that day. The winner, Always Right, and the second horse both came from behind.
“If you look at the form, David Pipe’s horse Minella Four Star has gone on to win the Midlands National - he was struggling to go the gallop that day and pulled up five out.
“I was a wee bit disappointed when I got home from Doncaster because I was expecting a big run from Killyglen but when I sat back and looked at the time, it was eight seconds quicker than the year before and it was slower ground this year. It probably ended up being a good enough run from him.
“If things had worked out differently that day I’d have been sitting here with a horse that had a good result and would probably be one of the leading fancies. That could have led to a lot of attention that I could do without, so maybe it will work out for the best - we’ll see.
“It’s interesting to look back through the National in the recent past - how many horses have gone on and won the race off the back of a mediocre run the time before.”
Crawford is pleased with Killyglen - owned by fellow Ulsterman David McCammon - who will be partnered by Power for the second time, the pair having finished fifth to Kalahari King in a handicap hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in 2008.
The trainer continued: “Killyglen is doing well at the moment and it’s definitely all systems go for next week. We’re just hoping it stays quite dry - we don’t want any rain for him.
“Everything has gone well so far and he has had no setbacks. He did a piece of work after racing at Navan on Saturday. He jumped half a dozen fences and worked up the straight - he pleased me there. Robbie Power rode him and he was happy with him.
“Robbie will ride him in the National. He knows his way around and you will probably not get a better jumping rider. He has a lot of experience from his showjumping days as well.”
The going at Aintree remains:
MILDMAY & HURDLE COURSES - Good
GRAND NATIONAL COURSE - Good
Andrew Tulloch, Aintree’s Clerk of the Course and Director of Racing, reported today: “There has been steady drizzle today, which has amounted to around one millimetre, and the going remains good on all courses.
“We could see some further showers tomorrow with the forecast for a band of rain to arrive on Friday.
“The long-range forecast is for unsettled conditions for the first half of next week, with maybe around two or three millimetres of rain every other day. More settled conditions are predicted from Thursday onwards.”
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