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Thursday, February 7, 2013






The countdown to this year’s John Smith’s Grand National continues on Tuesday, February 12, when the annual launch is held in London and includes the eagerly-anticipated unveiling of the weights for the world’s greatest chase.


A total of 83 entries remain in the famous handicap chase and, with a prize fund of £975,000, the John Smith’s Grand National is the most valuable jump race in Europe and among the richest in the world. This year’s John Smith’s Grand National takes place on Saturday, April 6, the third and final day of the John Smith’s Grand National meeting at Aintree.


Trainer Charlie Longsdon, based near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, is aiming exciting Irish import Frisco Depot at the Aintree showpiece, which will be run over the new distance of about four miles, three and a half furlongs for the first time.


The lightly-raced nine-year-old progressed into a smart performer for trainer Dessie Hughes last season, chasing home Flemenstar at Naas in March before annexing the Grade Two Hugh McMahon Memorial Novice Chase over three miles at Limerick on April 1.


Frisco Depot was purchased by Robert Waley-Cohen over the summer but luck has not been on his side in two runs for his new stable with the owner’s son Sam Waley-Cohen in the saddle.


He fell three out when travelling well in the Grade Three United House Gold Cup at Ascot on November 3 and, after being pulled up in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on December 1 it transpired he had a wind problem.


Longsdon revealed: “Frisco Depot had a wind operation after his run in the Hennessy but he is back on the go now and everything has been very good with him.


“We are looking at the John Smith’s Grand National and he is going to run in a couple of weeks in a race that probably wouldn’t suit him over two and a half miles at Warwick.


“As he has had a couple of months off after a wind operation, I want to get a run into him but there are not too many races for him.


“He looked very progressive prior to his run in the Hennessy and he is a very nice horse. I think a mark of 140 is a true reflection of his ability but fingers crossed he can be competitive.”


Frisco Depot is a 33/1 chance with Betfred, official betting partner of the 2013 John Smith’s Grand National.


Last year’s third Seabass (16/1 with Betfred), trained in Ireland by Ted Walsh, made an encouraging return to action when staying on strongly to snatch second in a two-mile hurdle at Fairyhouse on February 5. Walsh, who saddled the 2000 Grand National hero Papillon, is also responsible for another leading Irish hope Colbert Station (20/1), who won the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and annexed a Pertemps qualifier over hurdles at Punchestown on February 3.


Currently heading the ante-post market at with Betfred at 14/1 are the Willie Mullins-trained duo of Prince De Beauchene and On His Own. Prince De Beauchene was a winner over the Mildmay fences at the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National meeting and returned to action with a smooth success over hurdles at Limerick on December 27, while On His Own was travelling well in third when parting company with Paul Townend at Becher’s  Brook on the second circuit of the 2012 John Smith’s Grand National.


Weights for the John Smith’s Grand National are framed by the British Horseracing Authority’s Head of Handicapping, Phil Smith.


The John Smith’s Grand National is the only race in the calendar when Smith is permitted to use his own discretion and judgment, rather than relying on central ratings.


Smith said today: “In terms of numbers, there is one more entry than last year. We have got Cheltenham Festival winners, as well as Grade One winners and big handicap winners, among the entries, which is what you would expect for the John Smith’s Grand National.”



Class 1, Grade 3, £975,000 total prize fund. 4.15pm, Aintree, Saturday, April 6, 2013, about four miles, three and a half furlongs. For seven-year-olds and upwards who, up to and including March 18, 2013, have been placed first, second, third or fourth in a chase of three miles or more and which are allotted a rating of 120 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 10, 2013. Horses who are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at closing may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible for a weight providing the handicapper is satisfied that the horse's racecourse performances up to and including February 10 would merit a minimum rating of 120. To qualify, horses must have run at least three times in chases run under the Rules of Racing of the same Recognised Racing Authority up to and including February 10, 2013. At the handicapper's discretion, such horses may be allocated a rating. The decision of the BHA Head of Handicapping shall be final. The British Horseracing Authority has modified Rule (F)42.2.1 for the purposes of this race, such that racecourse performances up to and including Sunday, February 12, may be taken into account. A novice horse shall only be qualified to run in this race if it has run a minimum of three times in chases in Great Britain, Ireland or France in accordance with Rule (F)42.5. Highest weight 11st 10lb - no penalties after publication of the weights. Entries closed January 29, entries revealed January 30 (84 entries, 1 subsequently scratched before publication of the weights), weights revealed February 12, first scratchings’ deadline February 26, second scratchings’ deadline March 19. Five-day confirmation stage April 1, final declaration stage 10.00am, April 4. Maximum field size of 40, plus four reserves. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Wednesday, February 6.


Form  Horse    Age Owner     Trainer

P3-1120 ACROSS THE BAY (IRE) 9 Scotch Piper Syndicate   Donald McCain

P12/123- ALBERTAS RUN (IRE)  12 Trevor Hemmings   Jonjo O'Neill

0513-30 ALFIE SHERRIN  10 J P McManus    Jonjo O'Neill

044001- ALWAYS WAINING (IRE) 12 Mr & Mrs Peter James Douglas  Peter Bowen

3-614U4 ANY CURRENCY (IRE) 10 Cash Is King    Martin Keighley

2-U0P45 AURORAS ENCORE (IRE) 11 D Pryde, J Beaumont & D P van der Hoeven Sue Smith

P/5000/P- BACKSTAGE (FR)  11 MPR & Capranny Syndicate  Gordon Elliott IRE

121/46-P BALLABRIGGS (IRE)  12  Trevor Hemmings   Donald McCain

P0F1-12 BALTHAZAR KING (IRE) 9 The Brushmakers   Philip Hobbs

2F-63PP BECAUSEICOULDNTSEE (IRE) 10 Noel Glynn    Noel Glynn IRE

1/U121/5- BESHABAR (IRE)  11 Middleham Park Racing X & Ann Burrows Tim Vaughan

440/-U31 BIG FELLA THANKS  11 Crossed Fingers Partnership  Tom George

051130  BOB LINGO (IRE)  11 J P McManus    Tom Mullins IRE

P-06F226 BOSTONS ANGEL (IRE) 9 Elder Scouller    Jessica Harrington IRE

5110-P4 CALGARY BAY (IRE)  10 Camilla Radford   Mick Channon

234-F21 CALL THE POLICE (IRE) 10 DD Racing Syndicate   Willie Mullins IRE

P//1334-2 CAPPA BLEU (IRE)  11 William & Angela Rucker  Evan Williams

2B-0U63 CHICAGO GREY (IRE)  10 John Earls    Gordon Elliott IRE

40//2161-3 CLOUDY LANE  13 Trevor Hemmings   Donald McCain

413-5211 COLBERT STATION (IRE) 9 J P McManus    Ted Walsh IRE

1P-4PP0 CROSS APPEAL (IRE)  7 John Corr    Noel Meade IRE

120-25F FABALU (IRE)   11 Tim Leslie    Donald McCain

64-2P15 FORPADYDEPLASTERER (IRE) 11 Goat Racing Syndicate   Thomas Cooper IRE

21B-4FP FRISCO DEPOT  9 Waley-Cohen, Burke, Broughton, Broughton Charlie Longsdon

0/44-060 GULLIBLE GORDON (IRE) 10 Yeh Man Partnership   Peter Bowen

112P-P0 HARRY THE VIKING  8 Sir Alex Ferguson, Ged Mason, R Wood & P Done Paul Nicholls

51U/1P/-2 IMPERIAL COMMANDER (IRE) 12 Our Friends in the North  Nigel Twiston-Davies

30/1122/- JESSIES DREAM (IRE) 10 David Johnson    Gordon Elliott IRE

11P3-02 JOIN TOGETHER (IRE) 8 Ian Fogg & Paul Barber   Paul Nicholls

20-3523 JONCOL (IRE)   10 Kay Browne    Paul Nolan IRE

4-F0211 KATENKO (FR)  7 A Brooks    Venetia Williams

01236-14 LAMBRO (IRE)  8 Byerley Thoroughbred Racing  Willie Mullins IRE

10511-P LION NA BEARNAI (IRE) 11 The Lock Syndicate   Tom Gibney IRE

6P00-1F LITTLE JOSH (IRE)  11 Tony Bloom    Nigel Twiston-Davies

011611  LOST GLORY (NZ)  8 J P McManus    Jonjo O'Neill

PP-5220 MAGNANIMITY (IRE)  9 Gigginstown House Stud  Dessie Hughes IRE

4P2P-26 MAJOR MALARKEY (IRE) 10 Baker, Dodd & Cooke   Nigel Twiston-Davies

030U-06 MATUHI   10 Willsford Racing Incorporated  David Pipe

310-3P4 MIDNIGHT CHASE  11 Lady Clarke    Neil Mulholland

04-13116 MISTER HYDE (IRE)  8 Bensaranat Club & W McLuskey Jonjo O'Neill

1P-2215 MORTIMERS CROSS  12 John Needham    John Needham

0-23602 MR MOONSHINE (IRE) 9 Sue Smith    Sue Smith

1133FP MUMBLES HEAD (IRE) 12 Karen Bowen    Peter Bowen

1F-3F60 NINETIETH MINUTE (IRE) 10 Dermot Cox    Tom Taaffe IRE

33F425 ODYSSEAS (FR)  10 Mrs Jean Porzier   Yann Porzier FR

4P1/B1F- ON HIS OWN (IRE)  9 Andrea & Graham Wylie  Willie Mullins IRE

632/4-4U OSCAR TIME (IRE)  12 Robert Waley-Cohen/Sir Martin & Simon Broughton Martin Lynch IRE

05r316  OUTLAW PETE (IRE)  9 J P McManus    John Halley IRE

11/P10/-0 PANDORAMA (IRE)  10 R J Bagnall    Noel Meade IRE

30/F2PP- PEARLYSTEPS  10 The Glazeley Partnership  Henry Daly

0-000165 PENTIFFIC (NZ)  10 P Sinn, P Lawrence, L Sutcliffe, M Smith Venetia Williams

5/230-53 PLANET OF SOUND  11 Charles Lloyd-Baker   Philip Hobbs

(0)6U1/-50 POKER DE SIVOLA (FR) 10 David Johnson    Ferdy Murphy

351/51-1 PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE (FR) 10 Andrea & Graham Wylie  Willie Mullins IRE

1211-5F PROBLEMA TIC (FR)  7 Jo Tracey    David Pipe

F1113-0 QUEL ESPRIT (FR)  9 Red Barn Syndicate   Willie Mullins IRE

131P/PP- QUINZ (FR)   9 Andrew Cohen    Philip Hobbs

4010F-60 QUISCOVER FONTAINE (FR) 9 J P McManus    Willie Mullins IRE

13-3361 QUITO DE LA ROQUE (FR) 9 Gigginstown House Stud  Colm Murphy IRE

053B0-6 RARE BOB (IRE)  11 D A Syndicate    Dessie Hughes IRE

000-1U35 ROBERTO GOLDBACK (IRE) 11 Simon Munir    Nicky Henderson

511112  ROI DU MEE (FR)  8 Gigginstown House Stud  Gordon Elliott IRE

U1F1020 ROMANESCO (FR)  8 Annie Flora Joan Bowles  Gordon Elliott IRE

4U01-F4 SAINT ARE (FR)  7 David Fox    Tim Vaughan

1//11113-2 SEABASS (IRE)  10 Gunners Syndicate   Ted Walsh IRE

0-121365 SHAKERVILZ (FR)  10 Wicklow Bloodstock Limited  Willie Mullins IRE

1/21B-00 SOLL    8 Derrick Mossop   Jo Hughes

1P/1/401-3 SUMMERY JUSTICE (IRE) 9 Mrs H Brown    Venetia Williams

P012-5P SUNNYHILLBOY (IRE)  10 J P McManus    Jonjo O'Neill

00P-P14 SWING BILL (FR)  12 David Johnson    David Pipe

1P1142 TARQUINIUS (FR)  10 Mrs M Furlong    Gordon Elliott IRE

50-6440 TARTAK (FR)   10 Power Panels Electrical Systems Ltd Tim Vaughan

0/015U-6 TATENEN (FR)  9 The Stewart Family   Richard Rowe

P11-062 TEAFORTHREE (IRE)  9 T437     Rebecca Curtis

5/5/4-14P THE PACKAGE  10 David Johnson    David Pipe

04-311P THE RAINBOW HUNTER 9 May We Never Be Found Out Partnership Kim Bailey

541-121 TIDAL BAY (IRE)  12 Andrea & Graham Wylie  Paul Nicholls

1-12141 TOFINO BAY (IRE)  10 Gigginstown House Stud  Dessie Hughes IRE

51423F- TREACLE (IRE)  12 Bjorn Nielsen    Tom Taaffe IRE

FP-023P2 VIKING BLOND (FR)  8 Caroline Mould    Nigel Twiston-Davies

13PF-4P WEIRD AL (IRE)  10 Brannon Dick Holden   Donald McCain

4P/33F0- WHAT A FRIEND  10 Ged Mason & Sir Alex Ferguson Paul Nicholls

11F2-11 WYCK HILL (IRE)  9 SAB Partnership   David Bridgwater


83 entries remain

31 Irish-trained

1 French-trained









Ruby Walsh, the record holder, enjoyed two winners at The Festival in 2012 as did A P (Tony) McCoy, the 17-time champion Jump jockey, but it was Barry Geraghty, who landed the Thomas Pink Award for being the most successful rider over the four days in March with five victories.


Geraghty’s total number of winners at The Festival jumped to 25, putting him in third place among current jockeys and equal third since 1945. He also enjoyed five victories at The Festival when leading jockey in 2003.


 Walsh’s successes in 2012 were on horses that made history by winning for the fourth consecutive time in their races, Quevega in the OLBG Mares Hurdle and Big Buck’s in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.


He became the most successful jockey ever at The Festival in 2010, when surpassing the previous record of 25 winners held by the late Pat Taaffe. Walsh, now on 34 Festival victories, has captured the Thomas Pink Leading Rider Award six times. McCoy is in second place with a total of 27 Festival successes.


Previous winners of the Thomas Pink Leading Rider Award are listed below, with current jockeys in bold.


2012 Barry Geraghty (5)

2011 Ruby Walsh (5)

2010 Ruby Walsh (3)

2009 Ruby Walsh (7)

2008 Ruby Walsh (3)

2007 Robert Thornton (4)

2006 Ruby Walsh (3)

2005 Graham Lee (3)

2004 Ruby Walsh (3)

2003 Barry Geraghty (5)

2002 Richard Johnson (2)

2001 Cancelled - foot & mouth

2000 Mick Fitzgerald (4)

1999 Mick Fitzgerald (4)

1998 A P McCoy (5)

1997 A P McCoy (3)

1996 Richard Dunwoody (2)

1995 Norman Williamson (4)

1994 Charlie Swan (3)       

1993 Charlie Swan (4)

1992 Jamie Osborne (5)

1991 Peter Scudamore (2)

1990 Richard Dunwoody (2)

1989 Tom Morgan (2)         

1988 Simon Sherwood (2)

1987 Peter Scudamore (2)

1986 Peter Scudamore (2)

1985 Steve Smith Eccles (3)

1984 Jonjo O'Neill (2)

1983 Graham Bradley (2)

1982 Jonjo O'Neill (1)

1981 John Francome (3)

1980 Mr Jim Wilson (3)



Ruby Walsh 34

A P McCoy 27

Barry Geraghty 25

Richard Johnson 18

Robert Thornton 16

Paul Carberry 12

Davy Russell 9

Timmy Murphy 8

Paddy Brennan 6

Graham Lee 5

Jason Maguire 5

Miss Nina Carberry 4

Andrew Lynch 4

Mr J T McNamara 4 




Ruby Walsh 34

A P McCoy 27

Pat Taaffe 25

Barry Geraghty 25

Richard Dunwoody 18

Richard Johnson 18

Charlie Swan           17

Fred Winter 17                     

Tommy Carberry 16

Robert Thornton 16          

Mick Fitzgerald 14

Peter Scudamore 13




Since riding his first winner in an amateurs’ race at Newbury in 2006, Nick Scholfield has established himself as one of Jump racing’s brightest young talents.


The 23-year-old has enjoyed big-race success on Taranis in the 2010 Argento Chase and also landed valuable handicaps on Border Castle, Cornish Sett, Natal and New Little Bric, but came of age when steering Hunt Ball to a facile eight-length demolition of his rivals in last season’s Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase at The Festival.


Reflecting on his first Festival triumph, Scholfield said: “It was a big turning point for me to get my first Cheltenham Festival success out of the way.


“The feeling of winning is every bit as good as everyone says it is. The Cheltenham Festival is the highlight of the season and to get your name on the winners’ board means everything.


“It’s every jockey’s dream. I was lucky enough to ride at previous Festivals and it makes you realise how fierce the competition is and how hard it is to bag that winner.”


Hunt Ball, owned by dairy farmer Anthony Knott and trained by former jockey Keiran Burke, who was in his first season training, started last season with a rating of 69 but, after stringing together six wins from seven starts, he went to Cheltenham with a rating of 142.


As a result of this momentous 73lb rise in the handicap, Hunt Ball carried 12 stone in the Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase but his pilot’s confidence never waned and, after settling his mount behind the leaders, the pair stormed clear up the famous Cheltenham hill.


“Obviously, the racing at Cheltenham is very competitive and you need a lot of luck in running around there but everything went as I hoped,” revealed Scholfield. “I knew Hunt Ball was my best chance of the week. I really felt he could be the one to get me that first winner and he duly obliged.


“It was a rags to riches story and we had a good public following so it was great to win. It takes a while to sink in but you do get a fantastic buzz out of it.”


The jockey has continued in fine form this season, securing his first Grade One on Melodic Rendezvous in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown Park (January 5) and surpassing his previous best tally of winners before Christmas.


“This has been my best season so far and I’m sure that was helped by having a high-profile winner at the Cheltenham Festival,” he added.


Scholfield, whose father Philip was British champion point-to-point rider in 1988/89, already has three high-profile rides to look forward to at this year’s Festival headed by Melodic Rendezvous.


The seven-year-old was among the best bumper horses around last season and, after a narrow reverse on his hurdling debut at Exeter, he scored decisively at Cheltenham in December on route to an impressive four and a half length victory in the Tolworth Hurdle.


Melodic Rendezvous, trained by Jeremy Scott, holds entries in the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle over two miles and the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle over five furlongs further.


“Melodic Rendezvous gave me my first Grade One win at Sandown - that was another special day - and I am very much looking forward to riding him in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle,” admitted Scholfield.


“He shows me plenty of speed and has won over the course and distance so that is very much the race we will be looking at.


“He is going to run at Exeter on Sunday (February 10) and that will be a stepping stone to Cheltenham. He won’t be fully wound up for the race but hopefully it will set him up nicely.


“He has coped with soft and heavy ground well and we wouldn’t be worried if it came up like that at The Festival, but if the ground is better, that wouldn’t be a problem either because we have always thought he wanted nicer ground.”


Empiracle, a strapping son of 2003 Epsom Derby hero Kris Kin who is also trained by Jeremy Scott, was not extended to win a competitive bumper at Huntingdon in October and is being lined up for a tilt at the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.


“Empiracle’s form is probably nowhere near good enough but he shows us a lot at home and Jeremy has educated him well,” continued Scholfield.


“I shouldn’t think only having one run will be a problem and he has some new owners so it will be nice for them to enjoy The Festival experience and go there with a good chance.


“He is more of a staying type than Melodic Rendezvous. He is a lovely horse to look at and should make a lovely chaser in time.”


Hunt Ball has been pitched into Graded races this term but has not been disgraced with placed efforts in the rearranged Grade Two Peterborough Chase at Kempton Park over Christmas and the Grade Two Argento Chase at Cheltenham on January 26.


His colourful owner had long harboured Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup ambitions but recently revealed the dream is over and with it plenty of long-priced ante-post wagers.


The Byrne Group Plate Handicap Chase, run over two miles and five furlongs on St Patrick’s Thursday, March 14, is now Hunt Ball’s preferred Festival option.


“Hunt Ball will be running of 157 in the Bryne Group Plate which is a very high mark and it will be difficult to give that amount of weight away, but he didn’t seem stay in the Argento and the Ryanair looks very competitive,” conceded Scholfield.


“Hopefully, the touch of class he has will count for a lot in a handicap and he carried 12 stone up the hill last year and the weight wasn’t stopping him then.


“I think he is very good at that trip - obviously, he won over the course and distance last year - and let’s hope he can defy the weight and bag another win.”



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