national 2011 /
Knight Expresses Calgary Stamina Concerns
Henrietta Knight has decided to let her classy performer Calgary Bay take his chance in the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree on April 9, but is far from certain that her charge will last home over the marathon four-miles-four-furlong trip, writes Elliot Slater.
The famously anxious trainer, who sent out the mighty Best Mate to land a hat-trick of Cheltenham Gold Cups last decade, has never been overly keen in running her horses in the Grand National but has long believed that if she has one horse who is built for the challenge then it is Calgary Bay.
Although he hasn't won since December 2009, the eight-year-old has consistently run well in good company, including when finishing sixth behind Imperial Commander in last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup. This term he took his time to find his best form but showed in finishing fourth to Poquelin in the fiercely competitive Grade 3 Vote AP McCoy Gold Cup at Cheltenham in December that he remains a horse of significant ability and as Grand National runners go, he will by no means be a nad one.
Staying on well in that race as he did on his only subsequent outing when a good second to Wishfull Thinking over the same course and distance in the Grade 3 Murphy Group Chase in late-January, the Taipan gelding gives every indication that he doesn't lack for stamina. Knight believes that the key to Calgary Bay staying the marathon Aintree trip lies in the ground. If it is decent ground (which suits her charge ideally), then he can be hunted around for the first circuit before trying to get into the race second time around. But on a testing surface she fears the three-time winner might not last home.
Most people anticipate that Calgary Bay will get his preferred ground and he is currently amongst the more lively outsiders for the race, quoted at a best price 33/1.