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Thursday, March 29, 2001



LATEST LADBROKES ANTE-POST PRICES




Martell Grand National - Aintree April 7th 2001

7-Mely Moss, 10-Beau, 12-Earthmover, 14-Moral Support, 14-Noble Lord, 20(from 25)-Browjoshy, 20-Dark Stranger, 20-Edmond, 20-Smarty, 20-Take Control, 25-Addington Boy, 25-Brave Highlander, 25-Inn At The Top, 25-Paddy's Return, 25-Red Ark, 25-The Last Fling, 33-Djeddah, 33-General Wolfe, 33-Mister One, 33-Red Marauder, 33-Scotton Green, 33-Supreme Charm, 40-Bouchasson, 40-Exit Swinger, 40-Feels Like Gold, 40-Strong Tel, 40-Village King, 40-Youre Agoodun, 50-Blowing Wind, 50-Hanakham, 50-Kaki Crazy, 50-Northern Starlight, 50-Parahandy, 50-Radiation, 50-Relaxation, 50-Samuel Wilderspin, 50-Spanish Main

Each way ¼ the odds a place 1, 2, 3, 4

Others on request

Sagitta 2000 Guineas - Newmarket 5th May 2000

5/2-Nayef, 6-Tobougg, 9-Minardi, 10-Tamburlaine, 14-West Order, 16-Rumpold, 20-Amiwain, 20-Endless Summer, 25-Clearing, 25-Frenchmans Bay, 25-Golan, 25-Raneem, 25-Tempest, 33-Alunite, 33-Atlantis Prince, 33-Beckett, 33-Black Minnaloushe, 33-Bonnard, 33-Carnival Dancer, 33-Celtic Silence, 33-Certaun Justice, 33-Demophilos, 33-Dubai Vision, 33-Elnahaar, 33-Ishiguru, 33-King's County, 33-Mozart, 33-Painted Room, 33-Perigee Moon, 33-Theatre Script

Each way 1/4 odds Places 1, 2, 3

Others on request

Sagitta 1000 Guineas - Newmarket May 6th 2001

5-Regal Rose, 9-Crystal Music, 10-Autumn Rhythm, 10-Karasta, 12-Enthused, 14-Muwakleh, 16-Sequoyah, 20-Amonita, 20-Quick To Please, 25-Ameerat, 25-Ascension, 25-Fallen Star, 25-Flight Of Fancy, 25-Goncharova, 25-Hotelgenie Dot Com, 25-Matanilla, 25-Peaceful Paradise, 25-Sayedah, 25-Stunning, 25-Summer Symphony, 25-Tarfshi, 25-Tempting Fate, 25-Verasina, 33-Alshadiyah, 33-Dora Carrington, 33-Fantasy Royale, 33-Fully Invested, 33-Ghazal, 33-Imagine, 33-Katherine Seymour, 33-La Passine, 33-Mala Mala, 33-Pretty Girl, 33-Silky Dawn, 33-South Of Saturn, 33-Toroca

Each way ¼ the odds a place 1, 2, 3

Others on Request

Vodafone Derby - Epsom 9th June 2001

8-Nayef, 12-Galileo, 12-Golan, 16-Dilshaan, 16-Hemingway, 20-Aldwych, 20-Milan, 20-Tobougg, 25-Beckett, 25-Mozart, 25-Vacamonte, 33-Alunissage, 33-Curtain Time, 33-Demophilos, 33-Fair Question, 33-Mediterranean, 33-Musha Merr, 33-Narrative, 33-Theatre Script, 33-Wareed, 40-Afadan, 40-Alunite, 40-Beekeeper, 40-Bonnard, 40-Caughnawaga, 40-Colorado Falls, 40-Darwin, 40-Elnahaar, 40-Hill Country, 40-Ice Dancer, 40-King Charlemagne, 40-King's County, 40-Mersey Sound, 40-Mosayter 40-Nawamees, 40-Perigee Moon, 40-Random Quest

Each way 1/4 odds Places 1,2,3,

Others on request

Vodafone Oaks - Epsom June 8th 2001

6-Autumn Rhythm, 14-Crystal Music, 14-Flight Of Fancy, 14-Summer Symphony, 16-Imagine, 16-Karasta, 20-Relish The Thought, 20-Sayedah, 20-Time Away, 25-Biloxi, 25-Chilly Start, 25-Fully Invested, 25-Goncharova, 25-Mare Nostrum, 33-Bellona, 33-Gay Heroine, 33-Head In The Clouds, 33-Marani, 33-Matanilla, 33-Mot Juste, 33-Saudia, 33-Silky Dawn, 33-Stay Behind, 33-Tarfshi,

Each way 1/4 odds Places 1,2,3,

Others on request



NINE DAYS TO GO UNTIL THE MARTELL GRAND NATIONAL 2001




There are just nine days to go until the world's most famous steeplechase, the £500,000 Martell Grand National, takes place at Aintree at 3.45pm on Saturday, April 7. The three-day Martell Grand National meeting begins a week today, on Thursday, April 5.


Below are factfiles on the following ten big-race contenders:

Beau
Blowing Wind
Dark Stranger
General Wolfe
Red Ark
Red Marauder
Smarty
Take Control
The Last Fling
Village King


The first set of ten factfiles is available on Aintree's Internet site - www.aintree.co.uk

Preparations for the big meeting are going well and the local authority, Sefton, has just re-opened footpaths in the Melling area which had previously been closed because of the foot and mouth outbreak.

Conditions are excellent and the latest going is:

MARTELL GRAND NATIONAL COURSE: Good to Soft, Good in places

MILDMAY AND HURDLE COURSES: Good, Good to Soft in places


BEAU (IRE) FACTFILE



b g Zaffaran-Sand Martin (Menelek)
8-11-01
Form: /212254/24121121-3P42
Owner: Sylvia Tainton
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies
Breeder: Margaret Turner

Beau
Former Irish pointer Beau made a winning debut in Britain in a bumper at Towcester on May 4, 1998 and seven months later gained a first hurdling success at Newton Abbot, beating Estate Agent by two and a half lengths.

It was over a year before Beau managed to get his head in front again. This victory came on his third start over fences at Haydock on December 29, 1999, when he defeated the very useful Lady Cricket by one and a half lengths. Exactly a month later he gained his then greatest success, winning the Great Yorkshire Chase at Doncaster, then following up in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices' Chase at Ascot in February.


Beau made his first appearance at Cheltenham's National Hunt Festival last year when runner-up to Marlborough in the William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase. The promise of that outing was confirmed in April when Beau annihilated a high-class field in the Whitbread Gold Cup at Sandown.


This season he started off by finishing third to Foxchapel King in the Intervet Trophy Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in November but later that month was pulled up in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury, an effort which trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies believed could not be his true running. Returning to his best, Beau next finished fourth to First Gold in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and came a fine second to See More Business at Cheltenham in January in the Pillar Property Chase.


Race Record: Starts: 19; 1st: 6; 2nd: 7 ; 3rd: 1; Win & place prize money: £185,909

Sylvia Tainton

Beau's owner Sylvia Tainton, whose husband John made his money in the steel industry, comes from Broadheath in Worcerstershire. She has always loved steeplechasing, formerly had horses with David Nicholson and Peter Scudamore is godfather to her grand-daughter Amy. She talent-spotted and purchased Beau at a point-to-point in Ireland and after the horse won the 2000 Whitbread Gold Cup at Sandown, Mrs Tainton admitted that trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and the winning stable lad, Matty Nicholls, had earlier persuaded her not to rough off the gelding and said: "I wanted him home. He's been on the go since July, though he hasn't had that many runs. I'm pleased now, though." She has other horses with Twiston-Davies including handicap chaser Beefy Nova, and the Zaffaran five-year-old bumper horses The Villager, a winner at Doncaster in January, and Shelayly, placed on both his starts this year.


Martell Grand National Record (since 1980): No previous runners

Nigel Twiston-Davies

The Gloucestershire handler combined training as a permit-holder with his farming interests quite successfully throughout the 1980s, having his first winner with Frozen Prince at Hereford in March, 1982, before the agricultural recession prompted him to make training his full-time profession. He took out a full licence in 1989, recording his first win as a public trainer in December of that year with Babil at Newbury. Born on May 16, 1957, as an amateur jockey Twiston-Davies rode 17 winners under Rules and gained a further 17 point-to-point victories, and served as assistant trainer to Richard Head and Fred Rimell.

A childhood neighbour and friend of Peter Scudamore, he went into partnership with the former champion jump jockey to set up stables at Grange Hill Farm, Naunton, Gloucestershire. Has adopted and developed the pioneering techniques of Martin Pipe, such as interval training and regular blood tests for his 60-strong string, enabling him to rapidly raise his profile among the training ranks. He jointly owns the Hollow Bottom pub in Guiting Power with Scudamore, Raymond Mould and Charlie Egerton.


An essentially shy man, he momentarily shocked Des Lynam after Earth Summit's Martell Grand National success in 1998 by telling the BBC presenter in front of millions of viewers "I don't do interviews."

Twiston-Davies has gained six successes at the Cheltenham Festival, has many Aintree victories to his name including last season's Martell Aintree Hurdle with Mister Morose, won last season's Whitbread Gold Cup with Beau, and this season's Hennessy Gold Cup with King's Road.


Grand National record: 1994 Young Hustler (BD 11th); 1995 Camelot Knight (Fell 21st), Dakyns Boy (UR 10th), Young Hustler (UR 3rd); 1996 Young Hustler (5th), Captain Dibble (11th); 1997 Camelot Knight (3rd), Dakyns Boy (8th), Grange Brake (Refused 27th); 1998 EARTH SUMMIT (WON); 1999 Earth Summit (8th), Camelot Knight (BD 22nd); 2000 Camelot Knight (15th).


BLOWING WIND (FR) FACTFILE



br g Fabulous Dancer (USA) - Bassita (by Bustino)
8-10-00
Form: 72483111/4F2B0/4112176-37311
Owner: Peter Deal
Trainer: Martin Pipe
Breeder: Mme Yolande Seydoux de Clausonne

Blowing Wind

A French import, Blowing Wind made his debut in this country on December 20, 1997, finishing fourth in the John Bowler Knights Royal Hurdle at Ascot. After a couple of further runs that season, he comfortably won the Sunderlands Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle at Sandown on March 14. His next run came five days later at the Cheltenham Festival, where he was successful in the Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle, and in doing so not only landed a big gamble but secured the £50,000 bonus for completing the Imperial Cup/County Hurdle double. His season finished in fine style on April 18 when he landed the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr. He failed to get his head in front during the 1998/99 campaign and was brought down at the fifth in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle. Blowing Wind went chasing last season and, after an encouraging fourth on his seasonal bow at Newton Abbot, he won three of his next four outings in novices' chases before finishing seventh, 17 lengths behind the Nicky Henderson-trained Marlborough, in the William Hill National Hunt Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival in March. On his last start of the campaign Blowing Wind was sixth to Red Ark in the Perrier Jouet Novices' Handicap Chase at Aintree. This season he has been third in two races at Ascot, the First National Gold Cup in November and another handicap chase in January. Later that month the he landed a handicap chase at Doncaster by a head and followed up at Sandown in February, beating Get Real by three and a half lengths.


Race Record: Starts: 25; 1st: 8; 2nd: 3 ; 3rd: 3; Win & place prize money: £122,788.75

Peter Deal

A qualified chartered accountant, Peter Deal has over 30 years of experience in business in the manufacturing, distribution and leisure industries. In November 1999 he was appointed a non-executive director of United Racecourses, the parent company of Sandown, Epsom and Kempton, and became chairman of the Sandown Park Race Committee. A chance meeting with former jockey and BBC television presenter Richard Pitman in 1975 led to Deal owning numerous horses over the next quarter of a century, as well as building extensive breeding interests, and being a keen rider with the Old Berks Hunt. Make A Stand has been his best horse, winning the 1997 Smurfit Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, having taken the Tote Gold Trophy Handicap Hurdle at Newbury on his previous outing. Blowing Wind landed the Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle in 1998, to give Deal a second Cheltenham Festival success, which he particularly enjoyed as he received a great acclamation from the crowd for winning the ‘getting out stakes.' The 61-year-old's breeding interests began with Cala Conta, a Deep Run filly out of an Arctic Slave mare from an established Irish National Hunt family. Having been placed over hurdles, Deal began breeding from her, and her first foal, a colt by Tycoon II named Point Made, won 10 races. Cala Conta's success in throwing winners, including Warner For Winners who won eight races, wet Deal's appetite for breeding and this interest continues today. He also forms part of a pinhooking syndicate. Deal's colours are dark blue with yellow crossbelts, and his interests outside horse-racing include hunting (mainly with the Old Berks) in the winter, cricket and tennis in the summer.

Grand National Record (since 1980): 2000 Royal Predica (Fell 1st)

Martin Pipe CBE

Born May 29, 1945, Britain's ground-breaking 10-time champion jump trainer began his working life as assistant to his bookmaker father, David. From humble training origins as a permit holder, Pipe has built a phenomenally successful operation at Nicholashayne in Somerset, pioneering techniques such as interval training and a scientific approach to his horses' well-being. He re-wrote the record book for the numbers of winners trained in a season, growing from single-figure successes after being granted a licence in 1977 to an incredible 230 in the 1990/91 season. He beat his own record last season with 243 successes. Pipe won the Martell Grand National with Miinnehoma in 1994 and also trained the brilliant yet flawed Carvill's Hill, who won the Coral Welsh National in 1991. Last year he had a typically prosperous season, culminating in another good display at the Cheltenham Festival where he saddled Dark Stranger, to land a third victory for his handler in the Mildmay Of Flete Handicap Chase (joining Terao (1997) and Majadou (1999)), taking his tally at the meeting to 25, more than any other current trainer. Pipe is married to Carol with one son, David, now his father's assistant. Grand National Record: 1981 Three Of Diamonds (Fell 24th), 1982 Three Of Diamonds (7th), 1986 Ballinacurra Lad (Fell 5 out), 1988 Strands Of Gold (Fell 22nd), 1989 The Thirsty Farmer (11th) Bonanza Boy (8th), 1990 Bonanza Boy (16th) Star's Delight (PU 13th) Torside (PU 6th) Huntworth (UR 15th), 1991 Bonanza Boy (5th) Huntworth (PU 24th), 1992 Huntworth (PU 17th) Omerta (PU 7th) Bonanza Boy (Refused 19th), 1994 MIINNEHOMA (WON) Roc de Prince (6th) Run For Free (BD 17th) Paco's Boy (PU 17th) Riverside Boy (Refused 18th), 1995 Riverside Boy (8th) Chatam (Fell 12th) Errant Knight (UR 1st) Miinnehoma (PU 21st), 1996 Riverside Boy (12th) Encore Un Peu (2nd) Chatam (PU 5th), 1997 Evangelica (17th), Mugoni Beach (PU 21st) 1998 Challenger Du Luc (Fell 1st), Diwali Dancer (Fell 1st), Damas (Ref 11th), Pond House (PU bef 15th), Decyborg (PU bef 27th); 1999 St Mellion Fairway (9th), Eudipe (Fell 22nd), Tamarindo (Fell 6th), Cyborgo (PU bef 19th); 2000 Dark Stranger (UR 3rd) Art Prince (Fell 1st), Royal Predica (Fell 1st).


DARK STRANGER (FR) FACTFILE



b g Iveday - Abeille Royale (by Turn To Mars)
10-10-00 (9st 8lb long handicap)
Form: 2F2/34P/11201P1/24P11U-73P3
Owner: Terry Neill
Trainer: Martin Pipe
Breeder: Gilles Chaignon

Dark Stranger

Dark Stranger gained his first win in a novices' hurdle at Haydock on February 22, 1996, when trained by Charlie Brooks. Despite being consistent, he was unable to gain another victory until January, 1999, though he missed over a season because of injury. The second victory came in a novices' handicap chase at Ludlow when making his seasonal debut and having his first run for new trainer Martin Pipe. He followed up this win in a similar event at Lingfield before finishing unplaced in the 1999 Mildmay Of Flete Handicap Chase behind stable companion Majadou at the Cheltenham Festival. He got his nose in front on two other occasions in the 1998/99 season, at Ascot and Sandown, on April 7 and April 24 respectively. Last season Dark Stranger put in a good first run when finishing second behind Nordance Prince at Ascot in November and after a couple of unplaced runs was successful at Leicester in February. He then competed in the Mildmay Of Flete at Cheltenham for the second year running, this time winning the competitive event, in a pair of blinkers which had been suggested by Tony McCoy after he had won on the nine-year-old on his previous outing. Sadly for McCoy, he chose to ride Upgrade at Cheltenham, leaving Richard Johnson with the victory. McCoy was back on board Dark Stranger for last year's renewal of the Martell Grand National, but despite going off the 9/1 favourite the Iveday gelding could not end the champion jockey's string of bad luck in this prestigious chase (he has now failed to complete the course in five attempts) and unseated him at the third obstacle. This season Dark Stranger was well beaten first time out at Worcester in May and then ran well to finish third in a handicap chase at Newbury six months later. The ten-year-old was pulled up on his first start of 2001 in the Great Yorkshire Chase at Doncaster, but found his form again on his latest start, finishing third to Young Spartacus in the Racing Post Chase at Kempton on February 24. He has yet to win at a distance above two miles, four and a half furlongs.

Race Record: Starts: 25; 1st: 7; 2nd: 4; 3rd: 3; Win & Place Prize money: £100,041

Terry Neill

Terry Neill lives at Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire, although he hails from the Queen's Drive area of Liverpool, from where the British Horseracing Board chasing handicapper Phil Smith also comes. He is a shareholder in Liverpool Football Club and describes himself as "more than semi-retired" having sold his packaging company in 1995, and is now a venture capitalist. The 59-year-old has seven horses with Martin Pipe plus Flat horses with Michael Bell and Richard Hannon, and the low point of last season was the death of his best horse, Gloria Victis, who had to be put down after running a tremendously brave race in last year's Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. Neill gained his biggest win as an owner with his first-ever runner at the Festival, when Dark Stranger landed the Mildmay Of Flete Handicap Chase in March, 2000. Gloria Victis had previously given Neill another major win in the Racing Post Chase at Kempton in February of that year when, despite being a novice carrying top weight, he defeated experienced handicappers in impressive fashion.

Grand National Record: 1998 Decyborg (PU bef 27); 2000 Dark Stranger (UR 3rd), Art Prince (Fell 1st).

Martin Pipe CBE

Born May 29, 1945, Britain's ground-breaking 10-time champion jump trainer began his working life as assistant to his bookmaker father, David. From humble training origins as a permit holder, Pipe has built a phenomenally successful operation at Nicholashayne in Somerset, pioneering techniques such as interval training and a scientific approach to his horses' well-being. He re-wrote the record book for the numbers of winners trained in a season, growing from single-figure successes after being granted a licence in 1977 to an incredible 230 in the 1990/91 season. He beat his own record last season with 243 successes. Pipe won the Martell Grand National with Miinnehoma in 1994 and also trained the brilliant yet flawed Carvill's Hill, who won the Coral Welsh National in 1991. Last year he had a typically prosperous season, culminating in another good display at the Cheltenham Festival where he saddled Dark Stranger, to land a third victory for his handler in the Mildmay Of Flete Handicap Chase (joining Terao (1997) and Majadou (1999)), taking his tally at the meeting to 25, more than any other current trainer. Pipe is married to Carol with one son, David, now his father's assistant. Grand National Record: 1981 Three Of Diamonds (Fell 24th), 1982 Three Of Diamonds (7th), 1986 Ballinacurra Lad (Fell 5 out), 1988 Strands Of Gold (Fell 22nd), 1989 The Thirsty Farmer (11th) Bonanza Boy (8th), 1990 Bonanza Boy (16th) Star's Delight (PU 13th) Torside (PU 6th) Huntworth (UR 15th), 1991 Bonanza Boy (5th) Huntworth (PU 24th), 1992 Huntworth (PU 17th) Omerta (PU 7th) Bonanza Boy (Refused 19th), 1994 MIINNEHOMA (WON) Roc de Prince (6th) Run For Free (BD 17th) Paco's Boy (PU 17th) Riverside Boy (Refused 18th), 1995 Riverside Boy (8th) Chatam (Fell 12th) Errant Knight (UR 1st) Miinnehoma (PU 21st), 1996 Riverside Boy (12th) Encore Un Peu (2nd) Chatam (PU 5th), 1997 Evangelica (17th), Mugoni Beach (PU 21st) 1998 Challenger Du Luc (Fell 1st), Diwali Dancer (Fell 1st), Damas (Ref 11th), Pond House (PU bef 15th), Decyborg (PU bef 27th); 1999 St Mellion Fairway (9th), Eudipe (Fell 22nd), Tamarindo (Fell 6th), Cyborgo (PU bef 19th); 2000 Dark Stranger (UR 3rd) Art Prince (Fell 1st), Royal Predica (Fell 1st)


GENERAL WOLFE FACTFILE



ch g Rolfe (USA) - Pillbox (Spartan General)
12-10-05
Form: 211F2/140261/1F60P/24
Owner: The Winning Line
Trainer: Venetia Williams
Breeder: Mrs M Easton

General Wolfe

Trained by Aintree stalwart the late Tim Forster until his retirement in May, 1998, General Wolfe now runs for the all-conquering Venetia Williams stable. The winner of nine of his 27 starts to date has already twice experienced the unique demands that the Martell Grand National sets, having finished 16th behind Lord Gyllene in 1997 and 12th two years later.


Last season he returned to action in the Peter Marsh Limited Handicap Chase at Haydock on January 23, 1999, having been off the course for 12 months because of tendon trouble, and won handsomely beating Simply Dashing by four lengths. General Wolfe also won the 1998 running of the race, from Strath Royal (2nd) and Nahthen Lad (3rd).


He was then slightly disappointing that season, falling at the last fence in the Singer & Friedlander National Trial at Uttoxeter in February, finishing sixth to Young Kenny in the Greenalls Grand National Trial at Haydock later in the same month and, after his creditable 12th place at Aintree, was pulled up in the Whitbread Gold Cup at Sandown.


His retirement was announced after that run, but the horse was not keen on the idea and he went back into training with Venetia Williams in October. On his return to the racecourse at Sandown in February the decision was justified as General Wolfe finished second to Storm Damage in the Agfa Diamond Handicap Chase and, most recently, he disappointed when fourth to Marlborough in the Jim Ford Challenge Cup Chase at Wincanton on February 22.


Race record: Starts 27; 1st 9; 2nd 4; 3rd 0 Win and place prize money: £113,529.50

The Winning Line

Cheshire-based tipping service and racehorse syndication operation, best known now for the successful string of National Hunt horses it manages, split between the likes of Venetia Williams, Paul Nicholls, Ian Williams, Brendan Powell and Mark Johnston. The best horse to run for the Winning Line was the 1998 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup and Pertemps King George VI Chase winner Teeton Mill. Former jockey Hywel Davies, who won the 1985 Martell Grand National on Last Suspect, acts as racing manager along with Mark Gichero. General Wolfe's syndicate includes Cornwall-based Don Charlesworth, owner of the useful Tensile with Martin Pipe, whose one-twelfth share cost him £11,000. He is auctioning the share to benefit the Injured Jockeys' Fund.

Grand National record: 1997 General Wolfe (16th); 1999 General Wolfe (12th).

Venetia Williams

Venetia Williams has been training only since 1995, but such is the impression she has made in that short time that it would surprise no-one if she were to become champion trainer before too long. Her first part-season produced a respectable, if modest, seven winners but things really took off the following campaign when her score went up to 33. In 1997/8 there were 45 winners from her yard at King's Caple in Herefordshire and the following two seasons Williams sent out 74 winners on each occasion.


Born May 10, 1960, Venetia Williams had a great deal of experience as trainer and rider before setting out with a licence at her family's Herefordshire estate. She rode ten winners as an amateur through 1986-88 and rode in the 1988 Martell Grand National on Marcolo, who knocked her unconscious when coming down at Becher's, before she broke her neck in a fall and was forced to retire on medical advice. She went all over the world to further her knowledge of training, spending seven years as assistant to John Edwards at Sellack, only a few miles from where she is now based. Later on she had spells with Martin Pipe and Barry Hills in this country, John Fulton in the United States and Colin Hayes in Australia.


She began with a string of limited size and talent but her success has prompted great reaction and new owners have flocked in with the result that her yard is full with more than 70 horses. Her first venture on the Flat yielded a Group 3 winner when Stretarez won the 1998 renewal of the Ormonde Stakes at Chester.

Last season she had her first Cheltenham Festival win thanks to Samakaan in the Grand Annual Challenge Cup.

Grand National record: 1997 Don't Light Up (Fell 13th) Celtic Abbey (Unseated 15th), 1998 Celtic Abbey (Fell 5th), 1999 General Wolfe (12th), 2000 Kingdom Of Shades (16th).


RED ARK FACTFILE



ch g Gunner B - Minim (Rymer)
8-10-00 (long handicap mark 9-08)
Form: 41132112121B-12P14282
Owner: Dorothy Mason
Trainer: Norman Mason
Breeder: Shade Oak Stud

Red Ark

Red Ark made his debut in a Newcastle bumper in December, 1998, finishing down the field before running over hurdles and the nearest he came to winning that season was when fifth at Wetherby on May 5.


The following season he gained his first victory in a handicap hurdle at Newcastle in November, 1999, and collected win number two in a similar event at Catterick later that month. In December, Red Ark began his chasing career and, after being placed on his first two starts over the bigger obstacles, won a novices' handicap chase at Leicester in January, 2000. He won two further races - a novices' chase at Sandown in March and the Perrier Jouet Novices' Handicap Chase at Aintree's Martell Grand National meeting the next month.


The current season began well as he landed a handicap hurdle at Market Rasen in September and two months later scored under a fine ride by Richard Guest in a valuable handicap at Newbury over two and a half miles. The eight-year-old has finished second on two of his four starts since that victory, including on his most-recent outing at Market Rasen on March 17 when he just found the gambled-on My Shenandoah too good. Red Ark is apparently well-fancied for this year's Martell Grand National, the one proviso being that he must have good ground.

Race Record: Starts: 27; 1st: 8; 2nd: 6; 3rd: 1; Win & place prize money: £65,163

Dorothy Mason

Dorothy Mason is the wife of Red Ark's trainer Norman Mason. Born November 13, 1936, and based in Crook, County Durham, Norman Mason was leading permit holder in the 1998/99 season, winning 26 races with total win and place prize money of £166,463. Last year he beat that figure, securing 30 victories, and £190,846 total prize money, and up to March 28, Mason had accrued 24 victories and £184,239 of prize money this season.


Richard Guest is the assistant trainer and stable jockey at Mason's Brancepeth Manor Farm Stables which has 40 boxes, and after regular conversations with his boss, Guest gets virtually a free hand with the 20 or so horses currently in training, one of the largest private strings of jumpers in the country.


Mason has owned horses for 30 years, including useful animals such as Centre Attraction, Music Be Magic, and Clever Folly, who won 16 races for the late Gordon Richards. He first got involved with horses through his children, who were attending lessons at the local riding school.


Mason originated from humble beginnings, but has become a multi-millionaire businessman. He made his fortune through extensive interests in the leisure industry in the North-East, including bingo halls, amusement arcades, nightclubs, and public houses.

Norman Mason's Grand National Record (since 1980): 1992 Radical Lady (19th); 2000 Red Marauder (Fell 6th)
(Dorothy Mason has no previous Grand National runners)



RED MARAUDER FACTFILE



ch g Gunner B - Cover Your Money (by Precipice Wood)
11-10-02
Form: 1212/3/1/111/16F0-14552F
Owner: Norman Mason
Trainer: Norman Mason
Breeder: Mrs Anne Jenks

Red Marauder
A full-brother to the high-class novice chaser Red Striker and the hurdler Anna Karnali, Red Marauder won on his racecourse debut in a Hexham novices' hurdle on October 14, 1993, and landed a similar race at Ayr a month later. He ran only once in the 1994/95 season, coming third on his first outing in handicap company at Carlisle in October and was off the track for over three years. On his comeback, he made a successful chasing debut on his only appearance in season 1997/98, winning a novices' event at Hexham on December 10 by eight lengths. He came back in good form in the 1998/99 season, winning three handicap chases in three outings, at Worcester, Carlisle and Ascot in late 1998. The third of these victories was in the prestigious First National Bank Gold Cup, where he defeated Chief's Song by 11 lengths.


After another long absence of over 14 months, he made it five wins from five starts over fences, when making a comeback at Wetherby last February in the John Smith's Handicap Chase. He then suffered his first reversal over the bigger obstacles in the Racing Post Chase at Kempton later in the same month, disappointing when 50 lengths behind Gloria Victis. He would have been entered for the 2000 Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup, but Norman Mason's assistant trainer and stable jockey, Richard Guest, failed to make the entry deadline, and subsequently took full responsibility for the error but believed it might have been a blessing in disguise as the horse would be fresh for Aintree. However, Red Marauder lasted only until the sixth fence when falling in last year's Martell Grand National and he was a distant tenth in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.


He reverted to hurdles for his first start this season, winning a handicap at Market Rasen in September, and back over fences finished a creditable fourth to Lady Cricket in the Thomas Pink Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November. He was then fifth in two high-class events, the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury and the Tripleprint Gold Cup at Cheltenham, where he returned on January 27 to finish runner-up to the progressive Young Spartacus in a handicap chase. Most recently he fell at the first in the De Vere Gold Cup at Haydock on February 24.

Race Record: Starts: 19; 1st: 8; 2nd: 3 ; 3rd: 1; Win & place prize money: £81,818

Norman Mason

Born November 13, 1936, and based in Crook, County Durham, Norman Mason is both trainer and owner of Red Marauder. In the 1998/99 season, Mason was leading permit holder, winning 26 races with total win and place prize money of £166,463. Last year he beat that figure, securing 30 victories, and £190,846 total prize money, and up to March 28, Mason had accrued 24 victories and £184,239 of prize money this season.


Richard Guest is the assistant trainer and stable jockey at Mason's Brancepeth Manor Farm Stables which has 40 boxes, and after regular conversations with his boss, Guest gets virtually a free hand with the 20 or so horses currently in training, one of the largest private strings of jumpers in the country.


Mason has owned horses for 30 years, including useful animals such as Centre Attraction, Music Be Magic, and Clever Folly, who won 16 races for the late Gordon Richards. He first got involved with horses through his children, who were attending lessons at the local riding school.


Mason originated from humble beginnings, but has become a multi-millionaire businessman. He made his fortune through extensive interests in the leisure industry in the North-East, including bingo halls, amusement arcades, nightclubs, and public houses.

Grand National Record (since 1980): 1992 Radical Lady (19th); 2000 Red Marauder (Fell 6th)


SMARTY (IRE) FACTFILE



b/br g Royal Fountain-Cahernane Girl (Bargello)
8-10-00 (long handicap weight 9-05)
Form: 7036P/45F11P11-132P
Owner: Mrs Tracy Brown
Trainer: Mark Pitman
Breeder: Mrs M Farrell

Smarty

First competed in Britain in the 1997/98 season, in a bumper and then four hurdle races. His best performance during that campaign came when third, beaten 16 lengths by Bright Flame, in a novices' hurdle at Folkestone in January.


The following season he had one more outing over hurdles before going chasing and it is in this sphere that Smarty has excelled. He won on his third start over fences under the capable hands of Tony McCoy in a novices' chase at Warwick in December, 1998, and then followed up in a handicap chase at Leicester the next month. He was obviously on quite a handy handicap mark at the time as he won two further handicap chases that season at Huntingdon in February, 1999, and Uttoxeter the next month.


Smarty was not seen on a racecourse again until December, having struck into a hind leg and injuring a tendon when winning at Uttoxeter. But his return to racing was a success as he took another handicap chase at Leicester and he then finished third to Legal Right in the Tote Silver Cup at Ascot later in December and was runner-up to Lordberniebouffant in the Sussex National at Fontwell the following month. Most recently he was pulled up in the Singer & Friedlander National Trial at Uttoxeter in February.


Race Record: Starts: 17; 1st: 5; 2nd: 1; 3rd: 2; Win & Place prize money: £43,811

Tracy Brown
Mark Pitman's first runner for owner Tracy Brown was smart hurdler Ashley Park, who made a winning bow in a novices' hurdle at Sandown in February, 1999, after being bought for 28,000 guineas at Newmarket's December Sales. He went on to finish fourth behind Istabraq in last season's Smurfit Champion Hurdle and second to Geos in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton this term. As well as owning Smarty, Mrs Brown's colours are also carried by Jameson, who made a winning debut in a Sandown bumper last March.

Grand National Record: No previous runners

Mark Pitman
Born on August 1, 1966, Mark Pitman was always destined for a life in racing. His mother Jenny trained two Grand National winners and father Richard, now a BBC racing presenter, is a former jockey who finished second to Red Rum on Crisp in the 1973 Grand National. Although he did not partner either of his mother's National winners, Corbiere (1983) and Royal Athlete (1995), Mark proved himself at the highest level as a jockey when Garrison Savannah, saddled by Jenny, won the 1991 Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup. The horse went on to finish an excellent second in that year's Martell Grand National, caught in the last 100 yards by Seagram.

Mark began training in June, 1997, after spending four years assisting his mother. In that first season he sent out six winners and his figures improved during the next two campaigns to 25 and 36 respectively. Pitman has two National Hunt Festival successes to his name, both provided by the same horse. Monsignor won the 1999 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at 50/1 and was rather more fancied when justifying 5/4 favouritism in the Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle the following season. After beginning his training career at Saxon House Stables, Pitman moved premises to Weathercock House Stables at the end of the 1998/99 season when his mother retired from her illustrious training career and made an immediate impact with Ever Blessed winning the 1999 Hennessy Gold Cup.

Grand National Record: No previous runners


TAKE CONTROL (IRE) FACTFILE



b g Roselier-Frostyfairy (Paddy's Stream)
7-10-04
Form: 0581/113171-1122513
Owner: David Johnson
Trainer: Martin Pipe
Breeder: Hilda Griffin

Take Control

Formerly trained in Ireland by John Joseph Murphy, Take Control had three unsuccessful outings over hurdles during the 1998/99 season before running away with a bumper by 13 lengths at Naas in February, 1999. He moved to Martin Pipe and was not seen again until the following December at Wincanton when he won a novices' handicap hurdle and then justified odds-on favouritism in a similar contest at Haydock later in the month.


Beaten on his next run at Haydock in February in a handicap hurdle by Merry Masquerade, Take Control got back to winning ways in a novices' hurdle at Plumpton just over two weeks later. He then finished seventh behind Rubhahunish in the Ladbroke Casinos Final Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and returned to Prestbury Park to gain a fifth career victory by taking a handicap hurdle. He has been chasing this season and took to the bigger obstacles immediately, winning novices' events at Exeter and Newton Abbot in October and November. Stepped up in class on his next two outings, Take Control was runner-up to two of the best novices seen this term - Shotgun Willy at Newbury on November 24 and Bacchanal in the Feltham Novices' Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.


He next appeared in the Singer & Friedlander National Trial at Uttoxeter in February and was very unlucky when ten lengths clear at the second last to clip the top of the fence and crumple on landing, allowing Flaked Oats to come through and steal the contest. Starting at 2/5 in a Warwick novices' chase later that month, he gained some compensation in beating Con Tricks by six lengths. On his latest start he ran creditably to finish third to Frantic Tan in the De Vere Gold Cup at Haydock on February 24.


Race Record: Starts: 17; 1st: 8; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 2; Win & Place prize money: £75,994

David Johnson
Johnson's is a classic rags-to-riches tale. Hailing from the East End of London, the days of working in a bank for £9 a week are now a long way behind the successful businessman who sold his finance company to an American business a few years ago for an undisclosed but significant sum. He started as an owner on the Flat in 1984, having his first winner with Cafe Noir at Folkestone in August, 1985, and his first jumping winner came in 1989. Most of his horses are bought in France and Ireland, including Arkle Chase winners Or Royal (1997) and Champleve (1998) and Cyfor Malta, winner of the Murphy's Gold Cup at Cheltenham in 1998. Johnson finished the 1997/98 campaign as the leading owner over jumps with 19 wins, was second in 1998/99 with 20 successes and fifth with 34 victories last season. Other Johnson stars have included Lady Cricket, Challenger Du Luc, Wahiba Sands, Golden Alpha, Gris D'Estruval and Rash Remark. He lives in Hornchurch, Essex, with wife Shirley and children Steven and Lisa.


Grand National Record (since 1980): 1998 Challenger Du Luc (Fell 1st);1999 Eudipe (Fell 22nd), Tamarindo (Fell 6th).

Martin Pipe CBE
Born May 29, 1945, Britain's ground-breaking 10-time champion jump trainer began his working life as assistant to his bookmaker father, David. From humble training origins as a permit holder, Pipe has built a phenomenally successful operation at Nicholashayne in Somerset, pioneering techniques such as interval training and a scientific approach to his horses' well-being. He re-wrote the record book for the numbers of winners trained in a season, growing from single-figure successes after being granted a licence in 1977 to an incredible 230 in the 1990/91 season. He beat his own record last season with 243 successes. Pipe won the Martell Grand National with Miinnehoma in 1994 and also trained the brilliant yet flawed Carvill's Hill, who won the Coral Welsh National in 1991. Last year he had a typically prosperous season, culminating in another good display at the Cheltenham Festival where he saddled Dark Stranger, to land a third victory for his handler in the Mildmay Of Flete Handicap Chase (joining Terao (1997) and Majadou (1999)), taking his tally at the meeting to 25, more than any other current trainer. Pipe is married to Carol with one son, David, now his father's assistant.

Grand National Record: 1981 Three Of Diamonds (Fell 24th), 1982 Three Of Diamonds (7th), 1986 Ballinacurra Lad (Fell 5 out), 1988 Strands Of Gold (Fell 22nd), 1989 The Thirsty Farmer (11th) Bonanza Boy (8th), 1990 Bonanza Boy (16th) Star's Delight (PU 13th) Torside (PU 6th) Huntworth (UR 15th), 1991 Bonanza Boy (5th) Huntworth (PU 24th), 1992 Huntworth (PU 17th) Omerta (PU 7th) Bonanza Boy (Refused 19th), 1994 MIINNEHOMA (WON) Roc de Prince (6th) Run For Free (BD 17th) Paco's Boy (PU 17th) Riverside Boy (Refused 18th), 1995 Riverside Boy (8th) Chatam (Fell 12th) Errant Knight (UR 1st) Miinnehoma (PU 21st), 1996 Riverside Boy (12th) Encore Un Peu (2nd) Chatam (PU 5th), 1997 Evangelica (17th), Mugoni Beach (PU 21st) 1998 Challenger Du Luc (Fell 1st), Diwali Dancer (Fell 1st), Damas (Ref 11th), Pond House (PU bef 15th), Decyborg (PU bef 27th); 1999 St Mellion Fairway (9th), Eudipe (Fell 22nd), Tamarindo (Fell 6th), Cyborgo (PU bef 19th); 2000 Dark Stranger (UR 3rd) Art Prince (Fell 1st), Royal Predica (Fell 1st).


THE LAST FLING (IRE) FACTFILE



ch g Avocat - Highway's Last (Royal Highway)
11-10-03
Form: 85/13F2P49U84/U14211P7-46U8
Owner: Trevor Hemmings
Trainer: Sue Smith
Breeder: G Stewart in Ireland

The Last Fling
Few horses show the same level of improvement as The Last Fling did last season. The former Irish point-to-pointer had his first run for Sue Smith when landing a 2m 1f novices' hurdle at Bangor in September and ended that season as the winner of five hurdles. He went novice chasing in the 1996/7 campaign and again started off successfully at Bangor. After a further two successes, he rounded off the season by finishing second to Cyborgo in the Mumm Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree. He was let down by his jumping the following term when he failed to finish in three of his outings and did best on his seasonal debut when second at Uttoxeter. Things improved the next season when he made a winning return at Wetherby in October, 1998, and finished runner-up to Random Harvest at the same course in the Rowland Meyrick Chase on Boxing Day. The death of his owner Michael Jackson in June, 1999, saw The Last Fling despatched to Doncaster's August Sales where trainer's husband Harvey Smith saw off David Redvers, representing Venetia Williams, to bring the gelding home at a cost of 32,000gns. He was then bought by Trevor Hemmings who believes his friend Jackson is willing the horse on. "I often think that Michael is looking down on us and giving The Last Fling a shout in his races," said Hemmings. Last season The Last Fling landed the Bet Direct Edward Hanmer Chase at Haydock on November 13, returned to the Lancashire course to take the Bet Direct Peter Marsh Chase on January 22 and then ran away with the De Vere Gold Cup on February 26, when his nearest pursuer, Niki Dee, was 24 lengths behind. He started at 16/1 for the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup but was pulled up before three out with jockey Seamus Durack reporting that he had been unable to keep up with the pace in that class of race on fast ground. On his last start of the campaign he became trainer Sue Smith's first Martell Grand National runner when finishing seventh behind Papillon. During the current campaign, the 11-year-old has struggled to find his best form. On all of his four starts he has finished no nearer than 43 lengths behind the winner, including on his latest outing in the De Vere Gold Cup at Haydock on February 24 when unplaced behind possible Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Frantic Tan.
Race Record: Starts: 45; 1st: 12; 2nd: 5; 3rd: 3; Win & Place prize money: £190,082

Trevor Hemmings
Trevor Hemmings, who bought The Last Fling following Michael Jackson's death in June, 1999, boasts a classic rags to riches story. Hailing from Lancashire, he began life as a bricklayer's apprentice and rapidly worked his way up the Pontins holiday business to the extent that he was able to sell it on to Scottish & Newcastle in exchange for a significant shareholding in S & N. He is no longer an S & N director, although still has a substantial stake. He is also the controlling shareholder in Arena Leisure Plc, which owns Folkestone, Lingfield, Southwell, Wolverhampton and Windsor racecourses and manages Worcester. Arena is also a major player in the Go Racing deal for British racing's media rights. Hemmings other interests include Blackpool Tower, hotels, a wallpaper business and last June another company in which he has a major share, Rodime Plc, paid £161 million for the Littlewoods pools business, which includes the bookmakers Bet Direct and Bet 247. In the last couple of years he has stepped up his involvement in racing and in May, 1999, broke the record for a National Hunt store horse (which has since been broken) when paying 100,000gns at Doncaster for the Be My Native gelding who was to be named Inca and won his debut bumper at Kempton in January, 2000, and finished second to Joe Cullen in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham two months later. Sadly Inca broke a hind leg on the gallops in November and had to be put down. Hemmings now brings on young stock at Gleadhill House Stud, managed by former trainer Mick Meagher at his base at Chorley in Lancashire, and at his Monymusk Stud in Co Cork. Last year was a memorable season for Hemmings which included The Last Fling's three Haydock wins and a triumph by Errand Boy to land the EBF Final at Sandown in March. Sadly one of Hemmings' best horses Young Kenny, whom he purchased last summer, sustained an injury and had to be put down when competing in the De Vere Gold Cup at Haydock. His 40-odd horses are split between Sue Smith, Micky Hammond, Nicky Henderson, Henrietta Knight, Nicky Richards, Henry Daly, Peter Beaumont and predominantly younger stock with Eugene O'Sullivan in Ireland.

Grand National Record (since 1980): 1992 Rubika (14th); 2000 The Last Fling (7th); Esprit De Cotte (Fell 22nd).

Sue Smith
Sue Smith has developed a formidable training operation at Craiglands Farm, 1,000 feet up on the Yorkshire Moors at High Eldwick near Bingley, where she first took out a permit to train in 1990 and a full licence the following year. With the help of her husband Harvey Smith (born December 29, 1938), arguably the most famous showjumper of all time, Sue Smith is now one of the top 20 trainers in Britain in terms of prize money won this season. Sue Smith was born on February 23, 1948, and raised on a Sussex farm. Although she rode (as Susan Dye) in Britain's first ladies' race and her recently deceased father owned horses with Arthur Pitt, she was brought up on showjumping, and met her future husband at Hickstead, moving north 15 years ago to Craiglands Farm, from which Harvey has never lived more than three miles away in his life - he was born in the neighbouring village of Gilstead. The Smiths share duties, with Sue looking after the day-to-day training and the entries, and Harvey taking care of the gallops, feeding and driving the box to the races. Harvey Smith personally laid down 18 furlongs of all-weather gallops made of a mixture that includes pig hair. Their biggest training successes have come with Kildimo, who won the inaugural Tote Becher Chase at Aintree in 1992, and The Last Fling last season, whose three high-profile wins at Haydock culminated in a victory in the De Vere Gold Cup.
Grand National Record: 2000 The Last Fling (7th)


VILLAGE KING (IRE) FACTFILE


b g Roi Danzig - Honorine (by Blushing Groom)
8-10-00 (9-03 long handicap)
Form: 111123122/1336F0-0223
Owner: Capt Bill Edwards-Heathcote
Trainer: Philip Hobbs
Breeder: Gerry Canavan

Village King
Trained by Richard Hannon on the Flat, Village King got his nose in front for the first time over hurdles on his fourth outing at Ludlow on January 6, 1998. He was not able to win again that season, although he was placed on a couple of occasions. During the 1998/99 season Village King was a revelation when he switched his attention to the bigger obstacles, winning his first four outings on the bounce, which included three novices' chases and a novices' handicap chase at Cheltenham. His other five outings saw him placed on four occasions, with one other success achieved at Exeter in March when he landed the Buzzard Handicap Chase.

His seasonal bow was delayed by some minor setbacks last season, but that did not stop him from winning easily at Cheltenham over the New Year. He was then placed third twice, at Doncaster and Wincanton, before finishing sixth behind Marlborough in the William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. His appearance in last year's renewal of the Martell Grand National resulted in a fall at the 20th fence and he rounded off the campaign by finishing tenth behind Beau in the Whitbread Gold Cup at Sandown.

He started this season when tenth in the Thomas Pink Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November, but on his three subsequent starts he has been placed on each occasion. Later in November he finished runner-up in a handicap chase at Chepstow and filled the same position in a similar event at Haydock early in the New Year. On his latest start the eight-year-old was third to Flaked Oats in the Singer & Friedlander National Trial at Uttoxeter on February 3.


Race Record: Starts: 27; 1st: 7; 2nd: 7; 3rd: 5; Win & Place Prize money: £67,070

Captain E J (Bill) Edwards-Heathcote

Born September 12, 1917, Captain Bill Edwards-Heathcote hails from Timberscombe in Somerset, close to Minehead where his trainer Philip Hobbs is based. He enjoyed a distinguished military career with the 15th/19th Hussars and held a permit to train, saddling Prince Stephen to win the Liverpool Handicap Hurdle at Aintree on March 24, 1956, in his own colours. The prize money for the race was £685.

But he is best known for owning the great Bula, Champion Hurdle winner in 1971 and 1972, trained by Fred Winter and ridden by Paul Kelleway. Besides Village King, Captain Edwards-Heathcote currently has one other horse in training, Pebble Moon, also stabled with Philip Hobbs. Pebble Moon won two hurdle races last year, at Plumpton and Fontwell. Captain Edwards-Heathcote's other major interest is farming.


Grand National Record (since 1980): 2000 Village King (Fell 20th)

Philip Hobbs
Born July 26, 1955, and now firmly established among the top National Hunt trainers, Philip Hobbs first took out a training licence with only nine horses. His first runner, North Yard at Exeter in August, 1985, was a winner and there has been no looking back. He is based at Sandhill near Minehead. He tasted big-race success as early as 1986/87 when Bonanza Boy was one of the season's top novice hurdlers. Putting behind him the disappointment of losing that horse to Martin Pipe, he has gone on to take other important prizes with horses such as Joint Sovereignty (1989 Mackeson Gold Cup), Moody Man (1990 Imperial Cup and County Hurdle), Dreams End (1994 Swinton Hurdle) and Dr Leunt (1999 Racing Post Chase). His success is even more apparent in numerical terms. Last season, he beat his previous best of 86 wins from the 1994/95 campaign, by reaching a century for the first time when Fly-Away Gunner won at Exeter on March 21, 2000. He finished the campaign with 120 successes. Hobbs made four appearances in the Martell Grand National as a professional jockey in the 1980s and although one of the best horses he rode was West Tip, he didn't get the leg up on him in the National, with those four rides resulting in two falls, one ninth place and an 11th. That last performance came in 1986 on Northern Bay in the final weeks of Hobbs's 160-win career as a jockey, when his much more successful training career was already under way.

Grand National training record: 1990 Gallic Prince (13th), Joint Sovereignty (Fell 19th); 1995 Gold Cap (13th); 1998 Samlee (3rd), Greenhill Tare Away (UR 27th); 1999 Samlee (10th), Bells Life (PU bef 26th), Mudahim (Unseated 6th); 2000 Village King (Fell 20th), Stormy Passage (Fell 22nd).



HUNTINGDON OFF TOMORROW




Tomorrow's meeting at Huntingdon has already been abandoned due to waterlogging.


Hugo Bevan, Clerk of the Course, stated: "Regrettably we have had to abandon.


"We had some rain overnight and the forecast is appalling. It is still like a bog and two fences are unjumpable."



MARSTON TO PARTNER AMBERLEIGH HOUSE IN GRAND NATIONAL




Warren Marston will partner Amberleigh House in the Martell Grand National for trainer Ginger McCain - although the Cheshire-based handler is still searching for a pilot for Hanakham.


McCain stated today: "We haven't got a jockey for Hanakham yet but Warren Marston will ride Amberleigh House.


"I do feel that Hanakham is a class horse with a super chance and we've got to get the right pilot.


"We certainly want to get it sorted out in the next couple of days.


"We've kept banging away at them on the gallops and they are going to go to Liverpool as fit horses."



MONTJEU TO STAND AT WINDSOR PARK IN NEW ZEALAND




The best racetrack performer of World Champion Sire Sadler's Wells, MONTJEU, joins the stallion roster at Windsor Park this coming season.


MONTJEU, the champion three year old of his generation and winner of six Group One races and over $US3.4 million, was the highest rated three year old in the world in 1999 on the International Classifications with a rating of 135. He is the highest ranked horse ever to retire directly from the racecourse to stud in New Zealand.


Rated by Champion Irish jockey Michael Kinane as the best horse he has ridden in a long and illustrious career, MONTJEU had many astute judges comparing him with Nijinsky as one of the very best European performers of the past thirty years.


MONTJEU was unbeaten as a two year old and a Champion as a three and four year old. It was as a three year old that MONTJEU took the racing world by storm.


His five wins at that age included two of Europe's premier classic races, the French Derby, by four lengths and the Irish Derby, by five lengths. However, it was his domination, not only of his own generation but also Europe's best older horses, in the world famous Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe that crowned his three year old season and earned him the title of Champion European Three Year Old. On each occasion MONTJEU defeated his opposition with ruthless efficiency, launching his winning runs with explosive acceleration.


His performance in the Arc was breathtaking. MONTJEU, ridden by Michael Kinane, faced a star studded field that included Daylami, El Condor Pasa, Fantastic Light, Croco Rouge and Greek Dance. He encountered traffic problems which saw him boxed in on the rails. As the field straightened Japanese champion El Condor Pasa had shot clear and looked set for victory.

But when Kinane asked MONTJEU to go the response was electrifying and his tremendous acceleration swept him to a half length victory.


Kinane was full of praise for MONTJEU's effort after the race. " His effort in the Arc was phenomenal. He had all the ground in the world to make up but he did it with ease. He's a horse with amazing acceleration ".


These performances earned MONTJEU the leading position on the International Classifications for 1999. His rating of 135 placing him some 8lbs superior to Dubai Millenium, Sendawar and Stravinsky, who were all allocated 127. His Timeform Rating of 137 placed him among the best three year olds of the last decade.


Maintaining his champion status as a four year old, MONTJEU was unbeaten in his first four starts. His wins included the Group One Tattersall's Gold Cup, Group One Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and the jewel of the English flat racing season, the Group One King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes.

His win in the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Diamond S. at Royal Ascot was rated by many of Europe's most respected judges as the best performance of the year by any horse in Europe. It was after this race that many were comparing him to Nijinsky.


Trainer John Hammond described MONTJEU as a "tremendous physical specimen of a racehorse. He was powerful and had a devastating finish ".


Respected commentator Jim McGrath, in an article written for the Daily Telegraph, had this to say - " MONTJEU has matured and thickened into an athlete of awesome proportions as a four year old. His relaxed nature while walking in the tranquil forests of Chantilly belies the ruthless manner he employs to win his races ".


There can be no argument that in the past decade MONTJEU's sire Sadler's Wells, himself a son of the incomparable Northern Dancer, has been the most dominant force in the bloodstock world.

Sadler's Wells remains the Leading Sire in Great Britain after an unprecedented ten year reign that shows no sign of ending, his overwhelming dominance drawing comparisons with the great St. Simon. He holds the world record with Sir Tristram for the number of individual Group One winners (45) by any sire at stud.


Sadler's Wells' progeny have won practically every major race in Europe for two year olds, three year olds and older horses and he is now also making his mark as a sire of sires and broodmare sire. In Australia his sons Barathea and Scenic have both left numerous top class racehorses. In South Africa his son Fort Wood is Champion Sire while in Japan their reigning superstar T M Opera O is by his Group winning son Opera House. In Europe, another Group One winning son, In The Wings has left multiple Group One winner Singspiel.


MONTJEU descends from an illustrious female family. His dam, Group winner Floripedes is by French Derby winner and leading sire Top Ville. She was the Champion staying three year old filly of her generation in France. At stud, Floripedes has also proven to be a superior producer, not only leaving MONTJEU but also the Group One performing stakes winner Le Paillard.

MONTJEU is currently standing his first season at Coolmore Stud in Ireland this year at a fee of 30,000 Irish guineas where he has predictably attracted a full book of high quality mares.


Windsor Park have negotiated with Coolmore the right to stand MONTJEU for a three year period. He will stand his initial season this spring at Windsor Park for $40,000 plus GST with a Live Foal Guarantee.


With the globalisation of racing, MONTJEU's international stature will undoubtedly focus attention on New Zealand's thoroughbred industry. Windsor Park Stud are proud to be able to offer Australasian breeders this wonderful breeding opportunity.


For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive


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