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Friday, March 28, 2003



LADBROKES EARLY PRICES FOR TOMORROW




3-30 Ascot
Tote Handicsp, 5 f

20/1 Marker
16/1 Willhewiz
8/1 No Time
7/1 OK Pal
4/1 Beauvrai
18/1 On The Brink
14/1 Free Wheelin
8/1 Bond Playboy
33/1 Miss Assertive
9/1 Ronnie From Donny
20/1 Go Polar
11/2 Caught In The Dark
6/1 Rectangle
22/1 Whippasnapper
Each Way: 1/4 Odds 1-2-3

2-10 Nad Al Sheba
Godolphin Mile, 1m


20/1 Aramram
7/1 Cayoke
7/1 Easyfromthegitgo
20/1 Equerry
7/1 Essence Of Dubai
25/1 Estimraar
4/1 Firebreak
9/2 Grey Memo
14/1 Love Regardless
14/1 Lusty Latin
12/1 Mr John
16/1 One More Round
33/1 Passport Pride
33/1 Que Expression
16/1 Skoozi
25/1 Fabria
50/1 Northern Rock (Reserve)
Each Way: 1/5 Odds 1-2-3

2-50 Nad Al Sheba
UAE Derby, 1m 2f

20/1 Baccarat
9/1 Byzantium
20/1 Hard Buck
7/1 Peasant
66/1 Seattle Fitz
50/1 Tangeriano
6/1 Victory Moon
33/1 Anasheed
9/1 Bourbonnais
11/10 Inamorato
25/1 Lundy's lane
10/1 Outta Here
25/1 Parhelion
50/1 Rahaf
20/1 Songlark
Each Way: 1/5 Odds 1-2-3

3-30 Nad Al Sheba
Dubai Sheema Classic, 1m 4f

4/1 Ange Gabriel
20/1 Boreal
7/1 Califet
50/1 Celtic Silence
25/1 Dano-Mast
25/1 Ekraar
25/1 Grand Ekinoks
10/1 Highest
40/1 Morshdi
40/1 Nowrass
50/1 Perfect Sunday
14/1 Polish Summer
20/1 Pugin
6/4 Sulamani
33/1 Well Made
8/1 Zindabad
Each Way: 1/5 Odds 1-2-3

4-10 Nad Al Sheba
Dubai Golden Shaheen, 6f

25/1 Abreeze
5/1 Avanzado
5/2 Captain Squire
12/1 Conflict
12/1 Conroy
6/1 Crystal Castle
25/1 Mugharreb
6/1 My Cousin Matt
33/1 Nobel Prize
25/1 Persuasivo Fitz
25/1 State City
4/1 Belle Du Jour
N/R Xtra Heat
Each Way: 1/5 Odds 1-2-3

4-50 Nad Al Sheba
Dubai Duty Free, 9f

66/1 Blizz Bless
14/1 Eventual
7/2 Imtiyaz
50/1 Itaquere Power
7/1 King Of Happiness
25/1 Masterful
25/1 Naheef
10/1 Paolini
33/1 Royal Tryst
11/1 Sights On Gold
16/1 St Expedit
11/10 Ipi Tombe
Each Way: 1/5 Odds 1-2-3

5-40 Nad Al Sheba
Dubai World Cup, 1m 1/4f Dirt

40/1 Blue Burner
100/1 Crimson Quest
11/2 Grandera
20/1 Grundlefoot
66/1 Hans Anderson
9/2 Harlan's Holiday
11/4 Moon Ballad
6/4 Nayef
40/1 See Mi
66/1 State Shinto
7/1 Aquarelliste
Each Way: 1/5 Odds 1-2-3



CAN SCOOP6 PUNTERS MAKE IT FIVE OUT OF FIVE IN MARCH?




The Scoop6 pools open tomorrow and players will be looking to cap what has already been a wonderful few weeks for punters by landing the bet for an unprecedented fifth time in a calendar month.


The Scoop6 Win fund was landed for the fourth consecutive time this month last Saturday when one lucky Tote betXpress customer scooped the entire £52,397 Win fund dividend and in doing so earned himself a shot at the £70,455 Bonus Prize fund on offer tomorrow.


In addition to his Win fund haul, the anonymous winner-from Lytham St Annes in Lancashire-also managed to add another £961 to his winnings with eight winning Place lines!

"March 2003 will live long in the memory as the 'month of the punter' with Scoop6 punters as conspicuous as anyone in the payout queues," said Tote spokesman Jeremy Scott.


"The Scoop6 has never been landed five times in a calendar month which would make this occurrence-should it happen-rarer than a blue moon and cap what must be a month of near 'punting perfection' for backers everywhere."

Saturday's Scoop6 races are:
1.40 Market Rasen
1.55 Haydock
2.30 Haydock
2.45 Market Rasen
3.05 Haydock
3.20 Market Rasen

The tote will operate pools on the six races from Nad Al Sheba.




MARTELL COGNAC GRAND NATIONAL MEETING SET TO BREAK NEW CROWD RECORDS




Aintree Racecourse announced today that racegoers wishing to attend the Martell Cognac Grand National Meeting (Thursday 3rd - Saturday 5th April) should ensure that badges are pre-purchased to guarantee admission throughout the three days of the Meeting.


Corporate hospitality and badge sales have bucked the trend of recent sporting events and record attendances are, once again, being predicted for both the Thursday and Friday of the meeting. Over 12,000 badges have also been sold for the opening day of the meeting (Thursday) an increase of 17% from 2002. Over 30,000 badges have already been sold for Ladies' Day (Friday), an increase of over 25% from the corresponding period last year and it is expected that the record crowd in 2002 of 42,000 will be beaten again in 2003. Sales for Martell Cognac Grand National Day are also very strong with advance sales up 21% in comparison with 2002, and over 36,000 badges have been sold to date.

Charles Barnett, Managing Director, said today: "We strongly advise all racegoers wishing to attend the three-day meeting to pre-purchase their admission badges prior to the raceday they are attending. The excellent weather that we are currently encountering is obviously having a positive effect, with our advanced booking office in Grand National Avenue at the front of the racecourse doing exceptionally well."

Looking Good, the new Style Contest to be run on Ladies Day has attracted plenty of interest from racegoers. The contest (open to male and female racegoers) will reward the "Most Stylish Racegoer for Racing at Aintree" with a brand new Jaguar X-TYPE. However, the racecourse is keen to stress that all entrants must be at the racecourse no later than 11am to participate in the contest.


Barnett added: "All badgeholders should give themselves plenty of time to enter the racecourse due to the security procedures that are in place for the meeting. All bars and catering outlets will be open from 10.00am on each day and there will be entertainment within the Aintree Pavilion and on the CCTV service to keep racegoers occupied."

Admission Badges can still be purchased by telephone - 0151 522 2929 - or direct from the racecourse at the advanced booking office on Ormskirk Road.


Telephone/Advanced booking office opening times:
Friday 28th March - 9am - 7pm
Saturday 29th March - 10am - 4pm
Monday 31st March - Wednesday 2nd April - 8.30am - 8pm



TEN MARTELL COGNAC GRAND NATIONAL FACTFILES




AMBERLEIGH HOUSE (IRE) FACTFILE
br g Buckskin - Chancy Gal (Al Sirat)
11-10-02
Form: 00/3621321314024/2145345B/622F432171/557PB/5216591-3632403
Owner: Halewood International Ltd
Trainer: Ginger McCain
Breeder: Robert McCarthy

Amberleigh House
Showed winning form in bumpers, over hurdles and over fences in Ireland for Michael Hourigan's stable, including in a Grade 2 race at Thurles and a Grade 3 event at Punchestown before being bought by Ginger McCain for owner John Halewood with the Grand National specifically in mind. However, he did not manage to get beyond the debacle at the eighth fence in the 2001 renewal. During his second season with McCain, Amberleigh House had a couple of runs at Bangor and Haydock before returning to Aintree for a crack at the Tote Becher Chase in November. On an emotional day, he put up a superb performance to defeat Smarty and give McCain his first success over the Grand National fences since Red Rum's historic third victory in 1977. He was then trained for the Martell Cognac Grand National, but failed to make the cut and had to run in the Martell Topham Chase instead, where he finished ninth. This season, Amberleigh House has again been trained with Aintree in mind and showed his liking for the course once again by finishing second to Ardent Scout in the Tote Becher Chase. He disappointed on his penultimate start in the Red Square Vodka Gold Cup, sponsored by his owner, at Haydock on March 1 when only 15th behind Shotgun Willy, but showed he a return to form when third at Bangor on March 29 over an inadequate two and a half miles.
Race Record: Starts: 52; 1st: 8; 2nd: 8; 3rd: 8; Win & Place prize money: £119,726

Halewood International Ltd
Halewood International, based at Huyton in Merseyside, was set up in 1978 by John Halewood and is one of the major UK independent producers and importers of wine, spirits and speciality drinks, employing over 1,000 people. John Halewood, who was valued at £115 million in the 2002 Sunday Times Rich List, was born on the Wirral and has always dreamt of success in the Martell Cognac Grand National.

Halewood's connection with the area was responsible for him being introduced to Ginger McCain in the Red Rum days when the trainer was based in Southport and he bought his first horse in 1983. Before Amberleigh House, his one previous Grand National runner was the McCain-trained Dudie, who came to grief at the sixth fence in 1986. Halewood's partner Judy Eaton used to train and ran Harley, who finished 12th in the 1991 National, and the pair now have a number of horses in training with Judy's sister Lisa Williamson, who is based at Saighton, near Chester. Halewood also has horses in training with Eric Wheeler. His company sponsored for the first time this year the Red Square Vodka Gold Cup, a major Grand National Trial, at Haydock Park. Grand National Record: 1986 Dudie (Fell 6th - owned by John Halewood), 2001 Amberleigh House (Fell 8th)

Ginger McCain
Donald Ginger' McCain boasts an outstanding training record in the Martell Grand National, having lifted the Aintree spectacular on three occasions with Red Rum, the race's most successful horse. Born September 21, 1930, McCain took out a permit to train in 1952. Combining his love of horses with a career in the motor trade, it wasn't until 1969 that he decided to take out a full licence. In typically unconventional fashion, McCain started out based at a small stable behind a used-car showroom in Southport. There began the amazing story that would see Red Rum, bred to be a sprinter and once almost crippled by a rare foot disease, transformed with the aid of the healing waters of the Irish sea into a Grand National legend. McCain also enjoyed considerable success with the talented but sadly ill-fated hurdler Honeygrove Banker in the 1980s and enjoyed a welcome return to the winners' enclosure at Aintree when Amberleigh House triumphed in the 2001 Becher Chase at Aintree.

Grand National record: Red Rum (WON 1973,1974 and 1977, runner-up 1975 and 1976); 1983 Beacon Time (Fell 19th); 1984 Kumbi (UR 19th); 1985 Kumbi (Fell 5th); 1986 Imperial Black (14th), Dudie (Fell 6th); 1988 Kumbi (Fell 22nd); 1991 Hotplate (PU bef 22nd); 1992 Hotplate (PU bef 2 out); 1996 Sure Metal (17th); 1999 Back Bar (14th), Commercial Artist (PU bef 18th), 2001 Amberleigh House (Fell 8th), Hanakham (Fell 2nd)

CYFOR MALTA (FR) FACTFILE
b g Cyborg - Force Nine (Luthier)
10-11-09
Form: 32111211/11/3/1482P-14U
Owner: David Johnson
Trainer: Martin Pipe
Breeder: Bruno Matt

Cyfor Malta
Previous French winner Cyfor Malta made a winning start in Britain for champion trainer Martin Pipe in a novices' chase at Sandown in January, 1998, proving three and a half lengths too strong for Bengers Moor. He returned to the same venue the following month when only beaten by Jack Doyle in the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase.

The Cyborg gelding justified favouritism on his last two starts of the campaign. After defeating Dr Leunt by three and a half lengths in the Cathcart Challenge Cup Chase at the 1999 Cheltenham Festival in March, he followed up in the Martell Topham Chase at Aintree, beating Ballyline by 13 lengths.

Cyfor Malta began the following season in magnificent style, winning the Thomas Pink Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November by a length from Simply Dashing. He followed up at Prestbury Park on his next start in the longer Pillar Property Chase in January, getting the better of Go Ballistic by four lengths.

He was then off the racecourse for two years before returning in the 2001 renewal of the Pillar Property Chase, when he finished a distant third to See More Business.

Off the track for another 11 months, he was given some respite by the handicapper and won a handicap chase at Newbury on the first day of December, denying Young Devereaux by one and a half lengths. After being beaten at least 14 lengths in both the Pillar Property Chase and the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup, he returned to close to his best with a fine 11-length second to Florida Pearl in the Martell Cognac Cup Chase at Aintree. He was then pulled up in the Scottish Grand National on his last start of the term.

This season began with a second success in the Thomas Pink Gold Cup in November, this time beating Poliantas by seven lengths. He returned to Prestbury Park the following month when he was unable to defy a 10lb rise in the handicap in the Tripleprint Gold Cup, going down by 18 lengths to Fondmort. He unseated champion jockey Tony McCoy on his last start in the Pillar Property Chase on January 25.

Race Record: Starts: 19; 1st: 9; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 2; Win & place prize money: £305,360

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 sum. His horses are generally bought in France on the astute advice of Martin Pipe, including Arkle Chase winners Or Royal (1997) and Champleve (1998) and Cyfor Malta, winner of the Martell Topham Chase as well as the Thomas Pink Gold Cup (twice) and Pillar Property Chase at Cheltenham. He also buys some horses from Ireland with the help of agent Niall McLoughlin and these include Liberman, winner of this year's Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. Johnson finished the 1997/98 campaign as the leading owner over jumps and took the title again last season when collecting over £725,000 of prize money. He currently has around 30 horses in training and said recently: "It would be great to finish leading owner again, though you never take anything for granted because the results at Cheltenham and Aintree can alter the picture dramatically." 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; 2002 Iris Bleu (Fell 5th).


Martin Pipe CBE
Born May 29, 1945, Britain's record-breaking 12-time champion jump trainer began his working life as assistant to his late 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 and beat his own record in the 1999/2000 season with 243 successes. Last season he secured 235 victories. Pipe won the Martell Cognac Grand National with Freddie Starr's Miinnehoma in 1994 and also trained the brilliant yet flawed Carvill's Hill, who won the Coral Welsh National in 1991. He is the most successful trainer at the Cheltenham Festival with 30 successes, including the Champion Hurdle with Granville Again (1993) and Make A Stand four years later. He created history in 2001 when saddling a record ten runners - a quarter of the field - in the Martell Cognac Grand National. Last year he saddled eight of the 40 contestants. 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); 2001 Blowing Wind (3rd), Art Prince (Fell 1st), Tresor De Mai (Fell 2nd), Khaki Crazy (Fell 3rd), Exit Swinger (Fell 6th), Northern Starlight (UR 6th), Strong Tell (Fell 6th), Dark Stranger (Ref 8th), You're Agoodun (BD 8th), Moondigua (UR 15th); 2002 Blowing Wind (3rd), You're Agoodun (7th), Royal Predica (8th), Carryonharry (Fell 1st), Iris Bleu (Fell 5th), Gun'n Roses II (Fell 7th), Manx Magic (Fell 20th), Majed (Fell 22nd).


FADALKO (FR) FACTFILE
b g Cadoudal - Kalliste (Calicot)
10-11-05
Form: 32111/25P6210/11512U2F/122112/33628314-5257
Owner: Sir Robert Ogden
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Breeder: Mme Marie-Laure Besnouin and Christophe Moussay

Fadalko
Fadalko began his career in France with trainer Emmanuel Chevalier Du Fau, winning three hurdle races at Auteuil. He was then purchased by Sir Robert Ogden and was sent to Paul Nicholls. His first season in Britain was in 1998/99, when he was campaigned over hurdles. Initially he was a little disappointing but came good towards the end of the campaign, winning the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr. Indeed, it has become apparent that Fadalko frequently shows his best form during the spring. The following season Fadalko was sent over fences and won three times, including the Grade Two November Novices' Chase at Cheltenham's Open meeting. He also chased home Stormyfairweather when second in the Cathcart Chase at the Cheltenham Festival that season.
The following season Fadalko progressed into one of the leading two to two and a half mile chasers in the seasons, landing the Grade One Martell Melling Chase at Aintree and going down by a short head to Edredon Bleu in the Grade One Championship Chase at Sandown (the substitute for the Queen Mother Champion Chase that season, which had been abandoned due to foot and mouth disease).
Last season Fadalko was not at his best and managed just one win, taking in the Grade Two Silver Trophy Chase at Cheltenham in April. He has also not fired on all cylinders so far this season and was last seen out when a well-beaten seventh behind Young Spartacus in the Mildmay Of Flete Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Race Record: Starts: 37; 1st: 11; 2nd: 10; 3rd: 3; Win & Place prize money: £349,666

Sir Robert Ogden CBE
After leaving the RAF, Sir Robert Ogden started a demolition and site clearance business, moving into property development on a huge scale. The financial rewards of his highly-successful business empire, centred around the Ogden Group of Companies, based at Boston Spa, West Yorkshire, have allowed Ogden, 67, and valued at 120 million in the 2002 Sunday Times Rich List, to indulge in his passion for racing. Although brought up around horses, his racing interest began some 30 years ago via his neighbour, the haulage tycoon and trainer Jack Hanson, and his first winner came in a five-furlong maiden on the Flat at Haydock when Midnight Melody obliged on November 12, 1975. He nominates three favourite moments in racing to date - when his son Adam won the Grand Military Gold Cup aboard On The Other Hand, when Ogden's home-bred Squire Silk won the 1995 Tote Gold Trophy and thirdly when Ad Hoc's success in the 2001 Attheraces Gold Cup won him a third owners' championship on the final day of the season. Ogden has several former trainers - at one stage he owned Ferdy Murphy's then yard in Middleham - and his 30-strong string is currently spread between Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls, Jonjo O'Neill, Philip Hobbs, Mary Reveley, Martin Todhunter, Ian Williams and Venetia Williams with Jeremy Noseda having a couple of Flat horses. He has retained jockeys Paul Carberry and Richard Dunwoody in the past but now has a policy of using the best available. Ogden, who dislikes publicity and rarely speaks to the media - except about his charity work - lives at Sicklinghall Stud near Wetherby, where he has around 50 horses of varying ages. His best performers include Squire Silk, Fadalko, Ad Hoc, Marlborough and See More Business, in whom he bought a half share after his 1999 Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup victory. His racing interests are managed by Barry Simpson, who previously ran the Martin Pipe Racing Club. He was knighted in 2001 for his charity efforts.
Grand National Record: 1990 Bob Tisdall (20th); 1997 Buckboard Bounce (4th); 2002 Kingsmark (4th), Marlborough (Fell 1st), Ad Hoc (BD 27th).


Paul Nicholls
The son of a policeman, born in Alveston, Bristol, on April 17, 1962, Paul Nicholls has been training at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, Somerset, since taking out a licence on November 1, 1991. A former journeyman National Hunt jockey, he twice rode the winner of the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup, in 1986 and 1987, but failed in two attempts to complete the Martell Cognac Grand National course. He rode 130 winners between 1980 and 1989, and nominates his best rides as Broadheath, Playschool and Seagram. Between 1989 and 1991, he acted as assistant trainer to David Barons, for whom he rode plenty of winners, during which time Seagram won the 1991 Martell Cognac Grand National. He is now one of the leading jump trainers and pulled off the amazing feat of saddling seven winners and three seconds from his ten runners on Saturday, November 7, 1998, and the highlight of his training career to date came at the 1999 Cheltenham Festival when he won the major chase on each of the three days - Flagship Uberalles scored in the Arkle Chase on the Tuesday, Call Equiname won the Queen Mother Champion Chase the following day and, best of all, See More Business took the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup. The now 13-year-old, who finished eighth in this year's Gold Cup, went on to win the 1999 King George VI Chase. Nicholls has enjoyed another good season with the highlights including Azertyuiop's Irish Independent Arkle Chase success at the Cheltenham Festival. Just So, who finished sixth behind Party Politics in 1992, turned in the best performance of the 17 Nicholls-trained runners to have so far attempted the Aintree showpiece. Grand National Record: 1992 Just So (6th); 1996 Vicompt De Valmont (10th), Deep Bramble (PU bef 2 out), Brackenfield (UR 19th); 1997 Straight Talk (Fell 14th); 1998 What A Hand (Fell 1st), Court Melody (Fell 6th), General Crack (PU 11th); 1999 Strong Chairman (15th), Double Thriller (Fell 1st), 2000 Earthmover (Fell 4th), Torduff Express (Fell 13th), Flaked Oats (Fell 20th), Escartefigue (UR 30th); 2001 Earthmover (Fell 4th); 2002 Murt's Man (PU bef 17th), Ad Hoc (BD 27th).


GINGEMBRE (FR) FACTFILE
ch g Le Nain Jaune - Teuphaine (Barbotan)
9-11-07
Form: 45F51U2111/UBF2P41-323
Owner: Lavinia Taylor
Trainer: Lavinia Taylor
Breeder: Jean-Michel Sardyga Jockey: Andrew Thornton

Gingembre
Formerly raced in France where he twice competed over hurdles in Lavinia Taylor's colours from the Maisons-Laffitte stable of Stephan Kalley, Gingembre made his British debut when falling in a Grade Two novices' chase at Chepstow in November, 1999. He went on to win a maiden chase and three novice chases that term, including a Grade Two at Ayr in April, when denying Spirit Dancer by 30 lengths.

The following season he failed to complete on his first two starts, before finishing five lengths runner-up to King's Road in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury in November. Later in the campaign he was 18 lengths adrift of Heidi III in the Great Yorkshire Chase at Doncaster in January and then completed his season with a brilliant five-length success from Ad Hoc in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in April.

Off the track for over 18 months, Gingembre has been placed on all three of his outings this season. He made his bow when the two-length third to Marlborough in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in November. This was followed 28 days later by a half-length defeat by Be My Royal (who was subsequently found to have ingested a prohibited substance) in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury.

On his most recent start, the nine-year-old was a long way back in third to Behrajan in the Pillar Property Chase at Cheltenham on January 25. Connections had been considering returning to Prestbury Park for a run in the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup, but decided to go for the Martell Cognac Grand National instead and he has reportedly been working well.

Race Record: Starts: 20; 1st: 5; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 2; Win & place prize money: £154,237

Lavinia Taylor
Lavinia Taylor, who was born on July 15, 1952, trains at the famous Uplands Stables, formerly occupied by Fred Winter, in Upper Lambourn with her husband John, who is a former lawyer and Australian outback pig farmer. Both were amateur riders and former permit holders, with Lavinia even riding in the Martell Foxhunters' Chase, leading the field for some distance. The couple met at Roddy Armytage's stable at East Ilsley, where Lavinia was assisting trainer's wife, Susan, who had sustained a broken leg, and also looked after the Armytage children, Gee and Marcus, who both went on to ride in the Martell Cognac Grand National - Marcus won the race in 1990 on Mr Frisk. At that time John was practising law in Wallingford and had horses in training with Armytage, for whom he would also ride out six mornings a week. He quit the legal profession in 1979 and the couple then spent the majority of their five years in Australia running a pig farm 200 miles from Perth. After returning to England and renovating a woodland cottage close to Abingdon in Oxfordshire, the Taylors settled for several years in Ireland, where they were neighbours of Irish trainer Jessica Harrington.
Lavinia Taylor, who show jumped and evented, always had racing as her first love and graduated from training point-to-pointers to taking out a permit in July 1994, sending out Domaine De Pron to win the 1998 Tote Eider Chase from their farm at Chipping Warden in Oxfordshire. Lavinia, a member of the Morrell brewery family, took out at a full jump licence in 1999 and had her biggest success with Gingembre in the 2001 Scottish Grand National. One of her great relaxations is watching Neighbours.
Grand National record: No previous runners

Andrew Thornton
Born October 28, 1972, at Stockton-On-Tees in Cleveland, Thornton was a successful amateur who benefited under the tutelage of the late Arthur Stephenson, winning the National Hunt amateur riders championship in 1992/93 with 28 winners from 146 rides. Had a phenomenal 1997/98 season, picking up a spare ride on See More Business to win the King George VI Chase when regular partner Timmy Murphy was sidelined through suspension and then landed the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup on 25/1 outsider Cool Dawn. The high-profile successes have been backed up by a consistent stream of winners and Thornton, who is based in Lambourn is renowned for his "have saddle, will travel" outlook. His best position in the Martell Cognac Grand National came when he partnered St Mellion Fairway into 4th place five years ago and last season he pulled up Murt's Man. Grand National record: 1996 Over The Stream (13th); 1997 River Mandate (PU 21st); 1998 St Mellion Fairway (4th); 1999 Nahthen Lad (11th); 2000 Stormy Passage (Fell 22nd); 2001 Lance Armstrong (PU 19th); 2002 Murt's Man (PU 17th)

GUNNER WELBURN (GB) FACTFILE
ch g Gunner B - Vedra (IRE) (Carlingford Castle)
11-10-00
Form: 1/111F/121/5122-1301
Owner: William Ritson and David Hall
Trainer: Andrew Balding
Breeder: Pauline Nicholson

Gunner Welburn
Gunner Welburn was bred near Thirsk in North Yorkshire by Pauline Nicholson, who with husband Trevor subsequently bought the nearby historic Thornton Stud from Lord Howard de Walden. The Gunner B gelding was bought as a four-year-old store horse for 4,400gns at the 1996 Doncaster Spring Sale by former trainer Peter Easterby, who named the horse. The original Gunner Welburn had been friends with Easterby's father in the First World War and both became famed Yorkshire horse dealers, Welburn based on a farm at Harewood near Leeds.

The gelding was sold on to Will Ritson, whose wife Verena's parents live near Easterby, to ride in point-to-points. Gunner Welburn was then sent to be trained by Caroline Bailey - daughter of Grand National winning rider Dick Saunders - and managed to win a maiden second time out before finishing runner-up in a restricted event. He developed in a useful point-to-pointer and hunter chaser, making a winning hunter chase debut at Cheltenham in April, 1999, under Rowan Cope.

Three further hunter chase victories came at Warwick, Fontwell and Bangor in 2000 before he fell in that year's champions' event at Punchestown. In 2001, a win at Fontwell and second at Haydock were followed by victory by 13 lengths under Julian Pritchard in the Martell Foxhunters' Chase at Aintree. Last year he won a Haydock hunter chase in February before finishing runner-up to Last Option in the Christie's Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham.

Connections were then keen to run in the Martell Cognac Grand National so he was switched to the professional yard of Tik Saunders, Caroline Bailey's sister-in-law, but just failed to make the big-race line-up and instead finished second to Torduff Express in the Martell Foxhunters' Chase at Aintree.

With a career under Rules in mind, he was switched to Ian Balding and son Andrew this season, winning a Chepstow handicap chase in December on his debut for his new trainer. He was then third to Mini Sensation when favourite for the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow on December 27, followed by a distant tenth in the Great Yorkshire Chase at Doncaster a month later before winning a three-mile handicap chase by five lengths from Moral Support at Newbury on March 1.
Race Record: Starts: 16; 1st: 9; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £84,328

William Ritson and David Hall
Will Ritson, who was born on July 4, 1965, was a keen point-to-point rider and amateur rider until a fall finished his career in the saddle. He bought Gunner Welburn originally to ride in point-to-points and sent the horse to his father Tim in Cheshire to summer. Ritson works in the City but lives in Northamptonshire.

He encouraged his friend David Hall, who publishes Spot The Dog books, to have a first foray into ownership with Gunner Welburn.

Grand National Record: No previous runners

Andrew Balding
On January 1, Andrew Balding, took over the licence at the historic Kingsclere yard near Newbury in Berkshire following the retirement of his 65-year-old father Ian who had a training career of almost 30 years that included countless big-race successes including that of Mill Reef in the 1971 Derby.

Few trainers can have started off with such a mouthwatering team. Andrew Balding has charge of around 120 predominantly Flat horses with high-profile owners including the Queen, American ambassador Will Farish, George Strawbridge, Jeff Smith, Michael Tabor, Kirsten Rausing and Wafic Said. He has only a handful of jump horses but these include the high-class chasers Moor Lane and Gunner Welburn.

Born on December 29, 1972, and educated at Radley, Balding worked for his uncle Toby before spending two years assisting Lynda Ramsden in North Yorkshire. He returned to Kingsclere four years ago, having control of one yard while his father's name remained on the licence. Among the horses he oversaw in that period were Distant Prospect, winner of the Cesarewitch, and Firebreak, who landed the Group Two Mill Reef Stakes.

Grand National Record: No previous runners

MAJED (FR) FACTFILE
b g Fijar Tango - Full of Passion (Blushing Groom)
7-10-03
Form: 6204232111/1210F0-8
Owner: Sandicroft Stud II
Trainer: Martin Pipe
Breeders: I Diab and A Ayoub

Majed
Majed had shown respectable form over fences in France before being claimed for 125,000 francs at Auteuil in October, 2000, and it did not take him long to make his mark in this country as he won at the second attempt when taking a novice hurdle in soft ground at Plumpton in February, 2001.
Three more wins followed the next season, at Stratford, Exeter and Ayr, and he kept up the good work with successes last season in the Tote Silver Trophy at Chepstow in November and at Wincanton on Boxing Day. Remarkably, he then ran in the Martell Cognac Grand National, having never won a chase or even raced over fences in Britain. Unfortunately, there was no fairytale ending and he took a tumble at the 22nd obstacle. He completed the campaign with an outing in the attheraces Gold Cup, trailing in 11th a long way behind stable-companion Bounce Back.

After almost 11 months off the racetrack, the Fijar Tango gelding returned in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on March 12, finishing a 34-length eighth to Sudden Shock.

Race Record: Starts: 25; 1st: 6; 2nd: 4; 3rd: 1. Win & place prize money: £66,091

Sandicroft Stud II
Sandicroft Stud represents local man Chris Fleet, who lives on the Wirral at Neston and works as a stockbroker in Manchester. He was represented in the 2001 Martell Cognac Grand National by Exit Swinger, who fell at the sixth, and last year by Majed, who departed at the 22nd obstacle.

Fleet has already tasted Aintree success with Pridwell, in whom he had a share, over hurdles and is a keen cricketer, having been captain of the Chester Boughton Hall club for 13 years.

Chris Fleet's Grand National Record: 2001 Exit Swinger (Fell 6th); 2002 Majed (Fell 22nd)

Martin Pipe CBE
Born May 29, 1945, Britain's record-breaking 12-time champion jump trainer began his working life as assistant to his late 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 and beat his own record in the 1999/2000 season with 243 successes. Last season he secured 235 victories. Pipe won the Martell Cognac Grand National with Freddie Starr's Miinnehoma in 1994 and also trained the brilliant yet flawed Carvill's Hill, who won the Coral Welsh National in 1991. He is the most successful trainer at the Cheltenham Festival with 30 successes, including the Champion Hurdle with Granville Again (1993) and Make A Stand four years later. He created history in 2001 when saddling a record ten runners - a quarter of the field - in the Martell Cognac Grand National. Last year he saddled eight of the 40 contestants. 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); 2001 Blowing Wind (3rd), Art Prince (Fell 1st), Tresor De Mai (Fell 2nd), Khaki Crazy (Fell 3rd), Exit Swinger (Fell 6th), Northern Starlight (UR 6th), Strong Tell (Fell 6th), Dark Stranger (Ref 8th), You're Agoodun (BD 8th), Moondigua (UR 15th); 2002 Blowing Wind (3rd), You're Agoodun (7th), Royal Predica (8th), Carryonharry (Fell 1st), Iris Bleu (Fell 5th), Gun'n Roses II (Fell 7th), Manx Magic (Fell 20th), Majed (Fell 22nd).


MAXIMIZE (IRE) FACTFILE
b g Mandalus - Lone Run (Kemal (FR))
9-10-02
Form: 1/322446/2121162-4494
Owner: Lady Vestey
Trainer: Henrietta Knight
Breeder: Mrs Roberta Bell
Jockey: Jim Culloty

Maximize
Maximize came into racing via an unconventional route. He was bought by the former top three-day eventer Ian Stark for Lady Vestey for just 1,000gns at the 1998 Doncaster May Sale and excelled in the eventing sphere and also won a Scottish Borders point-to-point in February, 2000, by 15 lengths before making his debut under Rules for his owner's sister, trainer Henrietta Knight, in October, 2000, when third in a Stratford novices' hurdle. He went chasing and hurdling in his first season, failing to score despite some good efforts, and finally got his head in front at Wincanton in October, 2001, when scoring by 19 lengths.

He was well beaten at Uttoxeter next time, but returned to form when seeing off Frosty Canyon at Kempton later in November before returning to the Sunbury course for his biggest triumph, when landing the Grade 1 Feltham Novices' Chase on Boxing Day by two and a half lengths from Innox.

He was given a break until the Grade 1 Royal & SunAlliance Chase, finishing sixth to Hussard Collonges, and rounded last season off with second place in a Kempton novices' chase.

The current season began at Wincanton on November 9 with fourth place in the Badger Beer Handicap Chase and fourth of four in a decent intermediate chase at Sandown on December 6. He was well-backed for the Racing Post Chase at Kempton on February 22, when ninth to La Landiere, but ran a good Aintree trial when fourth to Youlneverwalkalone in the William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on March 11.

Race Record: Starts: 17; 1st: 3; 2nd: 5; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £58,904

Lady Vestey
Henrietta Knight's sister Celia Elizabeth Vestey, better known as Cece, is the second wife of Lord Vestey, whose fortune derives from the Western Union meat and shipping business founded in Liverpool in the 19th century. Sam Vestey, whose wealth was estimated at £700 million in the 2002 Sunday Times Rich List, is the chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, close to his Stowell Park home in Gloucestershire. He has owned a number of good horses including the Bonusprint Stayers' Hurdle winner Karshi.

Cece Vestey, a former nurse and keen huntswoman, worked in a London art gallery before marrying in 1981. She was brought up at the Lockinge estate near Wantage in Oxfordshire, where her sister Henrietta Knight now has her thriving racing stable. Lady Vestey's late parents, Guy and Hester Knight, were close friends of the Queen Mother and Cece Vestey, the feature of a 1981 BBC documentary - The Englishwoman and The Horse - is godmother to Prince Harry. Lady Vestey has fought back from a severe stroke she suffered in December, 1995.

No previous Grand National Runners

Henrietta Knight
Born December 15, 1946, Knight is a former school mistress, three-day eventer - she finished 12th at Badminton in 1973 and was later a judge at Burghley - and point-to-point trainer who ran a livery yard breaking in horses for the likes of Nicky Henderson, Michael Dickinson, Oliver Sherwood and Tim Forster. In the last few years her operation on the family farm at West Lockinge in Oxfordshire, still with a menagerie of other animals, has blossomed into one of the country's top National Hunt stables. Best Mate's brace of successes in the 2002 & 2003 Tote Cheltenham Gold Cups have been the highlights of her training career but there have been many other big days including when Edredon Bleu won the 2000 Queen Mother Champion Chase and Lord Noelie won the same year's Royal & SunAlliance Chase. Knight, whose sister Cece is married to Cheltenham racecourse's chairman Lord Vestey, is married to the former champion jockey Terry Biddlecombe, who assists at the stable and rode Gay Trip to finish second in the 1972 Grand National.

Grand National Record: 1992 Whats The Crack (13th), 1997 Full Of Oats (Fell 1st)

Jim Culloty
Culloty, the son of an accountant, was born in Killarney, Ireland, on December 18, 1973. He is unlikely to forget last year when he joined a select band of riders to have won the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup and Martell Cognac Grand National in the same season. The Cheltenham victory came aboard Best Mate and the Aintree success was on Bindaree, a chance ride following an injury to regular rider Jamie Goldstein. The fairytale continues as he was again successful on Best Mate in this year's Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Culloty is stable jockey to Henrietta Knight, having rapidly risen to prominence in the 1995/6 season as an amateur rider, with 40 winners. Having ridden for John Jenkins in his school holidays, Culloty came over to Britain on a more permanent basis in 1993, riding first for David Bloomfield's point-to-point yard, also partnered a winner at Les Landes in Jersey during the 1994/5 season, and rode for Jackie Retter before joining Knight. Culloty turned professional at the start of the 1996/7 season and his big-race victories include the 2000 Royal & SunAlliance Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on Lord Noelie. A suspension meant that he had to miss the winning ride on Best Mate in this season's Pertemps King George VI Chase but the partnership is reunited today.

Martell Cognac Grand National record: 1997 Full Of Oats (Fell 1st); 2000 Village King (Fell 20th); 2001 Village King (Fell 8th), 2002 BINDAREE WON

SOUTHERN STAR (IRE) FACTFILE
ch g Montelimar - Flying Pegus (Beau Chapeau)
8-10-06
Form: 13/23113/11U34P2-20208
Owner: Trevor Hemmings
Trainer: Henrietta Knight
Breeder: Gerard Burke
Jockey: Dominic Elsworth

Southern Star
Southern Star won a bumper at Huntingdon for trainer Mark Pitman on his racecourse debut in October, 1999. On his only subsequent start for Pitman, he was the two-length third to subsequent dual Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate in another bumper at Cheltenham the following month.
A year later he then made his final start in a bumper, having joined handler Henrietta Knight. This time he finished the two-length runner-up to In Contrast.

The Montelimar gelding won a novices' hurdle at the second attempt over timber, proving 20 lengths too strong for Peerless Motion, and he then followed up in another novices' hurdle at Huntingdon the next month, getting the better of Rouble by a neck. On his last start of the campaign he was a six-length third to Spring Margot in a novices' hurdle at Ayr in April.

Last season he made the perfect start to his chasing career, winning novice chases at Bangor and Cheltenham. He was unable to get his head in front in five further outins in novices chases last term despite being placed twice including a ten-length second to Barton in the Martell Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree in April.

He began the current campaign against the seasoned handicappers in fine style, finding only Stormez three-quarters of a length too good in the Intervet Trophy Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on November 16.

After then being well beaten two weeks later in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, he again ran well at Prestbury Park, this time finding Historg seven lengths too strong in a handicap chase on New Year's Eve.

Another disappointing effort followed in a handicap chase at Haydock on the first day of March. On his last start he was eighth to Youlneverwalkalone in the William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase at the National Hunt Festival on March 11.

Race Record: Starts: 19; 1st: 5; 2nd: 4; 3rd: 4; Win & place prize money: £70,850

Trevor Hemmings
Trevor Hemmings 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 a major shareholder in Arena Leisure Plc, which owns Folkestone, Lingfield, Southwell, Wolverhampton and Windsor racecourses and manages Worcester. Arena is also a major shareholder in the attheraces company that owns British racing's media rights. Hemmings' many other interests include Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens, where he is behind plans to develop the Las Vegas of the North.' His empire also includes hotels, a wallpaper business and in June, 2000, another company in which he has a major share, Rodime Plc, paid £161 million for the Littlewoods pools business, which includes the bookmaker Bet Direct. He was said to be worth £518 million in the 2002 Sunday Times Rich List. In recent 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 finished second in the 2000 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham two months later, but sadly broke a hind leg on the gallops later that year 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. Sadly one of Hemmings' best horses Young Kenny, whom he purchased in the summer of 2000, sustained an injury and had to be put down when competing in the 2001 De Vere Gold Cup at Haydock.
A big ambition for the locally-born Hemmings is to emulate his mentor Fred Pontin, owner of the 1971 National hero Specify, by winning the Martell Cognac Grand National, so much so that he purchased leading hope Beau for an undisclosed sum a few days before the 2002 race - only to see the horse unseat Carl Llewellyn at the 14th fence. His 40-odd horses in training are split between Sue Smith, Nicky Henderson, Henrietta Knight, Nicky Richards, Henry Daly, Willie Mullins, Jonjo O'Neill, Peter Beaumont, Heather Dalton and with Eric Alston on the Flat while he has predominantly younger stock with Eugene O'Sullivan in Ireland. Hemmings resides in the Channel Islands and recently purchased an estate on the Isle Of Man.

Grand National Record (since 1980): 1992 Rubika (14th); 2000 The Last Fling (7th); Esprit De Cotte (Fell 22nd); 2001 The Last Fling (UR 5th); Esprit De Cotte (UR 11th); 2002 Goguenard (Fell 1st), Beau (UR 14th).


Henrietta Knight
Born December 15, 1946, Knight is a former school mistress, three-day eventer - she finished 12th at Badminton in 1973 and was later a judge at Burghley - and point-to-point trainer who ran a livery yard breaking in horses for the likes of Nicky Henderson, Michael Dickinson, Oliver Sherwood and Tim Forster. In the last few years her operation on the family farm at West Lockinge in Oxfordshire, still with a menagerie of other animals, has blossomed into one of the country's top National Hunt stables. Best Mate's brace of successes in the 2002 & 2003 Tote Cheltenham Gold Cups have been the highlights of her training career but there have been many other big days including when Edredon Bleu won the 2000 Queen Mother Champion Chase and Lord Noelie won the same year's Royal & SunAlliance Chase. Knight, whose sister Cece is married to Cheltenham racecourse's chairman Lord Vestey, is married to the former champion jockey Terry Biddlecombe, who assists at the stable and rode Gay Trip to finish second in the 1972 Grand National.

Grand National Record: 1992 Whats The Crack (13th), 1997 Full Of Oats (Fell 1st)

TAKE CONTROL (IRE) FACTFILE
b g Roselier-Frostyfairy (Paddy's Stream)
9-10-09
Form: 0581/113171/11225130/36P4P51-04F0P
Owner: David Johnson
Trainer: Martin Pipe
Breeder: Hilda Griffin

Take Control
Formerly trained in Ireland by John Joe 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 at the Cheltenham Festival and returned to Prestbury Park to gain a fifth career victory by taking a handicap hurdle. He went chasing the following 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 that term - Shotgun Willy at Newbury in November 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, 2001 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. He then ran creditably to finish third to Frantic Tan in the De Vere Gold Cup at Haydock in February. On his last start of the season he was ninth to Gingembre when sent off favourite for the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in April.

The 2001/02 campaign began with a creditable two-length third to What's Up Boys in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury on the first day of December. A couple of disappointing efforts, when he was beaten over 35 lengths on each occasion, were followed by a 13-length defeat by old rival Bacchanal when fourth in the Aon Chase at Newbury in February. An outing at the Cheltenham Festival ended in disappointment when he was pulled up in the William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase and, after a fifth to Carbury Cross in the Martell V.S. Handicap Chase at Aintree in April, he gained the biggest success of his career when winning the Scottish Grand National by half a length from Shotgun Willy. As a result of that victory, Take Control went up 7lb in the handicap and he has been unable to be competitive in handicaps this season, the closest that he has finished to the winner in four such starts being a 31 lengths 12th to Be My Royal in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury in November.

Race Record: Starts: 30; 1st: 9; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 3; Win & Place prize money: £153,251

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 sum. His horses are generally bought in France on the astute advice of Martin Pipe, including Arkle Chase winners Or Royal (1997) and Champleve (1998) and Cyfor Malta, winner of the Martell Topham Chase as well as the Thomas Pink Gold Cup (twice) and Pillar Property Chase at Cheltenham. He also buys some horses from Ireland with the help of agent Niall McLoughlin and these include Liberman, winner of this year's Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. Johnson finished the 1997/98 campaign as the leading owner over jumps and took the title again last season when collecting over £725,000 of prize money. He currently has around 30 horses in training and said recently: "It would be great to finish leading owner again, though you never take anything for granted because the results at Cheltenham and Aintree can alter the picture dramatically." 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; 2002 Iris Bleu (Fell 5th).


Martin Pipe CBE
Born May 29, 1945, Britain's record-breaking 12-time champion jump trainer began his working life as assistant to his late 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 and beat his own record in the 1999/2000 season with 243 successes. Last season he secured 235 victories. Pipe won the Martell Cognac Grand National with Freddie Starr's Miinnehoma in 1994 and also trained the brilliant yet flawed Carvill's Hill, who won the Coral Welsh National in 1991. He is the most successful trainer at the Cheltenham Festival with 30 successes, including the Champion Hurdle with Granville Again (1993) and Make A Stand four years later. He created history in 2001 when saddling a record ten runners - a quarter of the field - in the Martell Cognac Grand National. Last year he saddled eight of the 40 contestants. 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); 2001 Blowing Wind (3rd), Art Prince (Fell 1st), Tresor De Mai (Fell 2nd), Khaki Crazy (Fell 3rd), Exit Swinger (Fell 6th), Northern Starlight (UR 6th), Strong Tell (Fell 6th), Dark Stranger (Ref 8th), You're Agoodun (BD 8th), Moondigua (UR 15th); 2002 Blowing Wind (3rd), You're Agoodun (7th), Royal Predica (8th), Carryonharry (Fell 1st), Iris Bleu (Fell 5th), Gun'n Roses II (Fell 7th), Manx Magic (Fell 20th), Majed (Fell 22nd).


YOULNEVERWALKALONE (IRE) FACTFILE
b g Montelimar-In My Time (Levmoss)
9-10-09
Form: 1/1113/21PF1/3221320-1311
Owner: J P McManus
Trainer: Christy Roche IRE
Breeder: Buckley Osborne Partnership

Youlneverwalkalone
A half-brother to the dual Stayers' Hurdle winner Galmoy and also the 1996 Ladbroke Hurdle victor Dance Beat, Youlneverwalkalone was sold as a foal for Ir10,200gns at the 1994 Tattersalls (Ireland) November Sale. He was first seen out in a bumper at Leopardstown in December, 1998, when running out the comfortable five-length winner. He did not run for the remainder of that season and next appeared in the 1999/2000 campaign, when he was very impressive in winning his first three starts over hurdles at Naas and Leopardstown. On the basis of those three wins, he started 5/4 favourite for the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham, but could only finish third.
The following season Youlneverwalkalone remained over hurdles and won the Grade One Hattons's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse, although he flopped badly at Cheltenham in both the Bula and the Cleeve Hurdles. Last season he was switched to fences and did not instantly translate his good hurdles form, winning just once from six starts in a minor event at Navan though often running well.

This season he started off in a handicap at Thurles in December, making light of his 12st burden to win by four lengths. He then made another trip to Cheltenham and started at 7/2 for the Tripleprint God Cup and came home in third place behind Fondmort. Youlneverwalkalone's chasing career has really taken off on his latest two starts. On January 12 he defeated Foxchapel King to land the valuable Pierse Handicap Chase at Leopardstown and on March 11 finally managed to break his Cheltenham duck when defeating Haut Cercy by three quarters of a length in the William Hill Handicap Chase at the National Hunt Festival.

Race Record: Starts: 21; 1st: 10; 2nd: 4; 3rd: 4; Win & place prize money: £237,682

J P McManus
J P McManus has owned many high-class National Hunt horses with a multitude of different trainers across Ireland, Britain and France. His best horses are headed by the triple Champion Hurdle winner Istabraq, the dual Bonusprint Stayers' Hurdle winner Baracouda, the mare Like-A-Butterfly, winner of the 2002 Gerrard Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Elegant Lord, winner of the 1999 Martell Foxhunters' Chase, Blitzkrieg and Jack Of Trumps.

McManus, who was born on March 9, 1951, left his father's plant hire business at the age of 20 to become a racecourse bookmaker, but then took the less well-trodden route of gamekeeper-turned-poacher when becoming a professional punter. The bet that changed his life was 4 on Linden Tree in a Newmarket maiden in 1970, the horse winning at 100/8. He had another £4 on when Linden Tree won the Observer Gold Cup at 25/1, and £5 each-way at 33/1 for the Derby, when the horse beat all bar Mill Reef.

Known by his initials rather than as John Patrick, the 52-year-old family man lives as a self-imposed tax exile in Switzerland, but is a familiar face at Irish racecourses and at major race meetings in Britain. He has a house in Barbados and, with Dermot Desmond, paid £38 million for the famous Sandy Lane Hotel on the island. He and friend and top Flat owner/breeder John Magnier recently made the headlines when increasing their shareholding in Manchester United Football Club last year although McManus insists his family are all Arsenal supporters. His wife Noreen's Lucky Town finished eighth in the 2000 Martell Grand National.

Grand National Record: 1982 Deep Gale (Fell 1st), 1988 Bucko (PU bef 27th), 1992 Laura's Beau (3rd), 1994 Laura's Beau (Fell 6th), 1996 Wylde Hide (UR 24th), 1997 Wylde Hide (UR 22nd); 1998 Gimme Five (5th), 2002 Spot Thedifference (UR 27th)

Christy Roche IRE
Christopher (Christy) Roche was born in Bansha, Co Tipperary, on December 3, 1949, and made his name as a Flat jockey. In a riding career spanning from 1966 to 1998, he rode a total of 1,739 winners in his native country, making him the most successful jockey in the history of Irish racing. Champion jockey in Ireland on seven occasions, Roche partnered a total of 12 Irish classic winners and enjoyed the most famous victory of his career when Secreto just got the better of El Gran Senor in a thrilling finish to the 1984 Epsom Derby. He also won the 1991 Epsom Oaks on Jet Ski Lady and the 1982 French Derby on Assert. He began his training career while still riding, basing himself at Curragh View House in County Kildare from November 1996 onwards. Focusing primarily on National Hunt horses, the best horse to have passed through Roche's hands is the brilliant mare Like-A-Butterfly, who won her first eight races, culminating in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He has also enjoyed Cheltenham Festival success with Youlneverwalkalone in the 2003 William Hill Handicap Chase while Bannow Bay finished second in the 2002 Bonusprint Stayers' Hurdle.

Grand National Record: No previous runners



SKY BET SET TO SPONSOR THE THIRSK CLASSIC TRIAL




Sky Bet Thirsk Classic Trial - Saturday, April 12, 2003

Sky Bet, one of Britain's leading betting and gaming companies, is to sponsor Thirsk's most-valuable and prestigious Flat race.

The Sky Bet Thirsk Classic Trial, a Listed race run over a mile, will be screened live on Channel 4 and heads a quality programme on Saturday, April 12, when Sky Bet are also pleased to provide their backing for one of the supporting races, the Sky Bet Classified Stakes.


The Sky Bet Thirsk Classic Trial often provides highly-regarded winners who have gone on to contest significant Group 1 races. The Mick Channon-trained Aramram won last year's race and went on to challenge the mighty Rock Of Gibraltar in both the 2,000 Guineas and St James's Palace Stakes, although ultimately falling short against the Horse of the Year.


Past winners of the Sky Bet Thirsk Classic Trial include Starborough (1997), who went on to win the St James's Palace Stakes and Jeune (1992), who landed the Melbourne Cup two years later. The 1996 runner-up Bahamian Knight went on to win the Italian Derby.


Sky Bet Managing Director, Nick Rust, was thrilled to have acquired such a widely respected race at the beginning of the Flat season. He said: "The Thirsk Classic Trial has often been a good indicator for upcoming runners in the Classics. There was no shame in Aramram being beaten by Rock of Gibraltar twice and we are sure this season's renewal will produce another top-quality winner.

"As part of our ever expanding race sponsorship portfolio we are pleased to have attained Thirsk's most prestigious race."

Thirsk's Managing Director, Christopher Tetley, added: "I am very pleased to announce that Sky Bet have agreed to sponsor Thirsk's most valuable race, The Thirsk Classic Trial. I look forward to welcoming Sky Bet to a high-quality renewal of the Classic Trial on April 12th from which the winner will hopefully go on to compete in the Classics."

Sky Bet, a wholly owned company of BSkyB, is one of the country's leading betting and gaming companies and industry leaders in the development of interactive TV betting.


To access Sky Bet just press red on your Sky Digital remote when watching a Sky Channel, alternatively you can visit www.skybet.com or call Freephone 08000 722 421 for Sky Bet Debit betting.


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


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