THE WORLD’S most famous race over the big obstacles, the John Smith’s Grand National is once more coming under orders at Aintree this Saturday. The Irish equivalent two weeks ago was won by Numbersixvalverde who will not be seen at Liverpool but the narrowly-beaten runner-up, Jack High, as well as third-placed Marcus du Berlais, do join the line-up and are quoted at 25/1 and 33/1.
To my mind, the race will come too soon for the pair and I give a great chance to Joly Bey, a fresh horse available at around 20/1. Favourite at 10/1 for the annual marathon is Amberleigh House, the 2004 winner, trained by Ginger McCain of Red Rum fame, closely followed by Clan Royal and Hedgehunter. 16/1 shot Forest Gunner would have a clear chance if ridden by a professional rather than a lady amateur and maybe outsider Nil Desperandum is a more appropriate selection for the contest which often turns into a lottery. Fancied Grey Abbey does not run.
Hot on the heels of the jumpers, the flat season re-emerged at Doncaster ready to unveil its latest generation of stars. Motivator should take high order, his two-year-old successes seeing him at the top of both the 2000 Guineas and Derby betting. Should the colt have failed to have trained on, Sir Michael Stoute could have another star in the making in the shape of Rob Roy on his hands. His one outing so far was a winning one and great things are expected. The Godolphin operation has 400 horses in training and the three-year-old chestnut colt Tasdeed may well prove to be one of its stars.
Kieren Fallon, who now rides mainly for Aidan O’Brien, was off to a winning start for his new employer aboard the filly Kitty O’Shea. She was highly impressive and could be one for 1000 Guineas and Oaks glory. Of the older horses, Azamour and Chic should pay to follow and look out for Australian wonder-horse Elvstroem who intends to contest the Lockinge, Price of Wales Stakes and Coral Eclipse. Saturday’s opening feature, the Lincoln, was won by Sir Michael Stoute’s Stream of Gold on whom Robert Winston finished on a tight rein oozing class. Kieren Fallon, who gave up his job with the winning trainer, finished fourth on Resplendent One.