John Smith's Grand National - 6th April 2013 

grand national 2013 /


Tofino Lays Down Clear Grand National Marker

Connections of the Dessie Hughes-trained Tofino Bay, agonisingly caught in the last few strides of the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival by the favourite, Back In Focus, are likely to let their charge take his chance just over three weeks later in the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree.

Tofino Bay
© Caroline Norris

Tofino Bay

Ridden by the excellent Nina Carberry, the winner of three of his six starts already this campaign looked all set to make it a fabulous fourth as he swept into the lead in the four-mile contest (limited to amateur riders), storming six lengths clear at the final fence.

The 10-year-old looked booked to collect the prestigious prize, only to appear to idle – Carberry later said she felt he had been lonely out in front – as he hit the steepest section of the Cheltenham hill.

His stride shortened just as Paddy Mullins conjured a tremendous later rally from his father’s well-backed favourite in the Grand National odds, Back In Focus (9/4f), catching Tofino Bay (8/1) six strides from the line and going on to score by half-a-length, the pair pulling 19 lengths clear of Godsmejudge in third.

For a horse of his age, Tofino Bay is relatively lightly raced, having seen a racecourse just 15 times in his career, his Grade 2 success at Naas in January demonstrating that the gelded son of Bishop of Cashel is still on the upgrade.

Off a mark of 149 some will say that Hughes’ stayer is well handicapped and the Grand National betting has understandably reacted to his massive Cheltenham effort by slashing his Aintree odds from as big as 100/1 in places down to a general offer of 33/1.

Should Nina Carberry retain the ride at Liverpool, there will be huge media interest in Tofino Bay and there is every chance he will indeed give supporters a good run for their money – and certainly not get bored and idle next time out.

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