1st 2 Mr Pointment 15/2
Mr Pointment jumped his way to the head of the market for the John
Grand National (April 5, 2008) with a superb front-running display to
win the highlight of day two of the Northwest Racing Masters, the £100,000
totesport.com Becher Chase over the Grand National course at Aintree.
Returned at 15/2, Mr Pointment was soon in front and jumped brilliantly
throughout, staying on gamely to repel the challenge of Bewleys Berry
by a length.
This was a third totesport.com Becher Chase winner for trainer Paul
Nicholls following on from Silver Birch (2004) and Eurotrek (2006). It
also capped a perfect Northwest Racing Masters for Nicholls and jockey
Sam Thomas, following the combination’s victory with Kauto Star
in yesterday’s £200,000 Betfair Chase at Haydock.
Paul Nicholls said: “I really fancied him today.
“Ruby (Walsh) said when he got off him at Cheltenham last month
that the Becher was the race for him.
“He was sent to me by the owners after being with Charles Egerton.
“He is a horse that needs to be fresh and it wouldn’t worry
me if he didn’t run again before the National. He could have a
run over hurdles but I don’t think he will go over fences again
“This horse is the first real proper National horse I have had in that he is relatively unexposed, having only had five chases in his life. He is so game and jumps so well.
“He jumps huge when he is schooled and jumps slightly to the left which is perfect around Aintree.
“There is only one race for him now - the Grand National - roll on.”
“It has been a brilliant weekend, the same as last year in that we won the Betfair Chase with Kauto Star and then a Becher Chase.”
Sam Thomas added: “This weekend really has been a dream a true
come true and today was just the icing on the cake.
“I thought Mr Pointment had a good chance today if he handled
the fences - you never quite know when horses run over these fences for
the first time.
“I promise you, you will not find a better ride over these fences.
“Early on, he was a bit keen but he then settled well in front. Being in front is often the best place to be around here, he just did his own thing. His jumping has really helped him today.”
Reflecting on the best-ever two days of his career, Thomas added: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet.
“I have five rides tomorrow at Ludlow and so maybe I will have a bit of a party in the middle of the week!”
Mr Pointment has a connection with the North West, being owned by Warrington-based
Stockton Heath Racing.
totesport make Mr Pointment 16/1 co-favourite along with Bewleys Berry
and Butler’s Cabin for the 2008 John Smith’s Grand National.
The eight-year-old is also a 16/1 chance with Blue Square, Ladbrokes
and Paddy Power, while William Hill go 20/1 for the world’s greatest
chase on April 5.
BEWLEYS BERRY BOUNCES BACK
Bewleys Berry may have fallen at Bechers second time around in the John
Smith’s Grand National, but he seems to have suffered no ill effects
as he finished runner-up to Mr Pointment in the totesport.com Becher
Howard Johnson, trainer of Bewleys Berry, said: “He doesn’t
want the ground as dead as that and would prefer better ground. He won’t
go chasing again until the John Smith’s Grand National weights
come out although he might have a run in a hurdle.
“Hopefully, the handicapper will put ours up 1lb and the winner 11lb - he should do as they have won the race!
“We could have Theatre Knight for the National as well as he wants four miles and we’ll get it one day!”
Bewleys Berry’s owner Graham Wylie added: “He jumped very
well and we were a little bit concerned how he would come back after
he fell in this year’s National.
“But he jumped well and I’m pleased as he seemed to enjoy it and loved it.”
Totesport make Bewleys Berry’s a 16/1 shot for the National (from
20), while Ladbrokes go 16/1 about the nine-year-old, Paddy Power trimmed
him into 20/1 (from 25) and William Hill did likewise.
Richard Phillips, trainer of third-placed Pak Jack, really wants to
run his charge in the Grand National, but has the headache of whether
the Pitchounet gelding will get into the race.
He said: “I am really pleased with him. People think that he is
a two-miler but he is really good around here and jumps.
“I think that he would jump around in the National and the plan
is to come back for that.
“I need to try and get him up the weights and I am one of the few people to want their horse to go up! Perhaps I should send Phil Smith [official handicapper] a bottle of champagne for the wrong reason!
“The Aintree factor comes in with some horses and they should
let those in that jump the course well. He has a genuine chance of being
placed in a National and I am really pleased with him.”
totesport.com BECHER HANDICAP CHASE (LISTED RACE)
3m 2f Grand National For 5yo+ Minimum Weight 10st Penalties after November 17th, a winner of a chase 3lb (no penalty to increase a horse's weight above 11st 12lb)
1. MR POINTMENT (Stockton Heath Racing) Paul Nicholls 8-11-05 Sam Thomas
19 ran Time 6m 58.9s
Winning Jockey: Sam Thomas Born: June 22, 1984 Background: The son of a maths teacher from Abergavenny, South Wales. Rode in point to points and spent one year with David Evans before moving to Venetia Williams’ stable, where he has been since training at the British Racing School. Big Race Wins: Betfair Chase ( 2007 Kauto Star), Amlin 1965 Chase (2006 Cerium); Paddy Power Amateur Riders Handicap Chase (2003 Its Onlyme - last ride as amateur); Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle (20004 Limerick Boy); Pendil Novices’ Chase (2005 Limerick Boy); First Winner Under Rules: Indian Sun (Western Wines Selling Hurdle, Ludlow, April 2, 2003) First Professional Winner: I Tina (G D Environmental Services Selling Hurdle, Chepstow, November 26, 2003) Wins (2002/03-2006/07): 1; 47; 55; 55; 73 Wins This Season: 27
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