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Monday, March 31, 2003



RECORD EIGHTY ONE ACCEPT FOR THE NATIONAL


No fewer than eighty one horses have been confirmed to run in the world’s most famous steeplechase, the Martell Cognac Grand National, at Aintree on Saturday (April 5) though, with a maximum permitted field of 40, more than half of those will not be able to take part. This is a record number of acceptors for the Martell Cognac Grand National at this stage - there were 71 last season.


All the major fancies have stood their ground, and all but one of the top 40 are in the handicap proper. Number 40 in the list is one of the French challenger, Djeddah, who has 9st 13lb in the long handicap.


Four of the top 10 in the list are owned by Sir Robert Ogden, headed by Ad Hoc, who fell four fences from home last year when going well and disputes favouritism with his stablemate Shotgun Willy. Ruby Walsh had to make the very difficult decision about which of the pair to ride and has chosen Shotgun Willy. Paul Carberry, who is currently on the sidelines after having been butted in the stomach by a stag when out hunting in Ireland, is due to ride Ad Hoc.


Sir Robert’s other two are Kingsmark, who was fourth in the Martell Cognac Grand National last year and is to be ridden by Tony Dobbin who partnered Lord Gyllene to victory in 1997, and Fadalko.


Doubts about at least some of the leading fancies failing to make the cut have been allayed, with both Amberleigh House, whose trainer Ginger McCain had charge of the Aintree legend Red Rum, and Gunner Welburn both among the top 40.


There are doubts about some of the top 40 being in the field unless the ground eases, though the rain forecast for tomorrow and Wednesday may overcome that problem.


Into that category come the leading Irish challenger Youlneverwalkalone, whose trainer Christy Roche plans to walk the course on Thursday evening, Chives and Red Marauder, successful in that amazing National of 2001 when only two completed without mishap in heavy ground.

If their connections decide not to run, this will make an opening for those just outside the top 40. This group includes Red Marauder’s stablemate Red Ark and Lady Lloyd Webber’s Killusty, who was coming back from a very long time out of action when he won at Sandown last month.


Those in that group may have a further opportunity to make it into the field due to the reserve system. At the 48-hour stage on Thursday morning, trainers are asked if they would like their horses to go on to the reserve list in the event of one of the top 40 being declared a non-runner. There will be four reserves, picked according to the handicap. This contingency remains in place until 9.30 am on Friday, the day before the race, after which there can be no additions to the field.


Martin Pipe, who had 10 runners in 2001 and eight last year, looks set to have another very big team. He has six in the top 40 and two more of the next dozen. His big hope is Iris Bleu, whose owner David Johnson will be hoping for a change of Aintree fortune.


Last year’s winner Bindaree, whose trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has had the all-clear for his Aintree horses after a recent virus outbreak in the yard, is reported in excellent form as he tries to become the first back-to-back National winner since Red Rum.


Another trainer with a potentially powerful team is Henrietta Knight, trainer of the dual Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Best Mate. Her contenders include Chives, who ran well for a long way in the Gold Cup and is another who would appreciate any rain, Southern Star, who also belongs to Trevor Hemmings and likes faster conditions, and the former event horse Maximize.


Trevor Hemmings also owns Goguenard, who has taken on a new lease of life since joining Sue Smith and was going very well when falling at the second last at the Cheltenham Festival after having won two of his three previous starts.


Nicky Henderson, who has four times been in the frame and twice had the ultra-frustrating experience of finishing second, has the top-weight Marlborough (one of Sir Robert Ogden’s team) and the lightly-raced outsider Katarino, and Philip Hobbs, second last year with What’s Up Boys, hopes that the going will be easy enough for Gunther McBride.


Another big hope from Ireland is Monty’s Pass, who was runner-up in the Martell Topham Chase (for the John Hughes Trophy) last year and will be a first National runner for his trainer Jimmy Mangan. He will be ridden by Barry Geraghty, who was top jockey at Cheltenham’s National Hunt Festival last month with five winners during the three days.


GOING TODAY


The going is GOOD on the Grand National course.

Clerk of the Course Andrew Tulloch said this afternoon: “I am very pleased with the ground on the Grand National Course. We put four millimetres of water on it today and rain is forecast for tomorrow morning with showers on Wednesday.”

The going is also GOOD on the Mildmay and Hurdle courses, which were watered yesterday.

Tulloch will assess the three courses again tomorrow and watering will continue if necessary. His aim is to have the ground on the Grand National course on the easy side of good on Saturday.



BADGES AND TICKETS


The demand for badges and tickets at the Martell Grand National Meeting , Thursday, April, 3, Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5, continues to be strong.

Over 82,000 badges and tickets have already been sold, as against 67,000 at this stage last year.


The County Stand is sold out on the Friday and Saturday. Tattersalls tickets remain for both days and there will be some available at the gates on both days but the advice is to come early. The Steeplechase Enclosure is open on the Saturday and no advance booing is necessary.


On the Thursday, there are 1,000 badges for the County Stand, with some being available on the day, and plenty of room in Tattersalls.


Badges and tickets can be booked by telephone on 0151 522 2929, with collection on the day, or else they are available from the sales kiosk outside the racecourse at the Ormskirk Road entrance.

To help access and for safety considerations, all holders of roof badges for the County, Princess Royal and Queen Mother Stands will be issued a wrist band when they enter the respective grandstands.




THE 2003 MARTELL COGNAC GRAND NATIONAL


Class A, Showcase Handicap, Total Prize Fund £600,000, 3.45pm, Aintree, Saturday, April 5, 2003. Four Miles & Four Furlongs (Over the Grand National Course). For six-year-olds and upwards which are allotted a rating of 110 or more by the Senior BHB NH Handicapper following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 1. Horses which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at January 22 may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible for a weight providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances to February 1 would merit a minimum rating of 110, and that the horse has either won a Steeple Chase or Hurdle Race, or has run at least three times collectively in Steeple Chases or Hurdle Races run under the Rules of Racing of the same Recognised Turf Authority by February 1. At the Handicapper’s discretion, such horses may be allotted a rating. The decision of the Senior BHB NH Handicapper shall be final. Entries closed Wednesday, January 22, 2003 (149 entries), entries revealed Thursday, January 23, 2003. Weights revealed Tuesday, February 4, 2003. First confirmation stage Tuesday, February 18, 2003 (135 remain); second confirmation stage Tuesday, March 18, 2003 (105 remain). Five-day confirmation stage Monday, March 31, 2003 (81 remain). Final declaration stage 10am, Thursday, April 3, 2003. Confirmation of riders must be made by 1.00pm Thursday, April 3, 2003. Any reserves will be implemented by 9.30am on Friday, April 4, 2003.Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Monday, March 31, 2003. May not include some overseas form.


Form Horse Age/Wt Owner Trainer/Probable Jockey
4F0-102F0 MARLBOROUGH (IRE) 11-11-12 Sir Robert Ogden Nicky Henderson/
212P-6115 BEHRAJAN (IRE) 8-11-10 The Behrajan Partnership Henry Daly/Richard Johnson
0/124-13 KINGSMARK (IRE) 10-11-09 Sir Robert Ogden Martin Todhunter/Tony Dobbin
2P41/-323 GINGEMBRE (FR) 9-11-07 Lavinia Taylor Lavinia Taylor/Andrew Thornton
12/32P2-1 SHOTGUN WILLY (IRE) 9-11-07 Graham Roach Paul Nicholls/Ruby Walsh
U/534-303P FIRST GOLD (FR) 10-11-06 J P McManus Francois Doumen FR/Thierry Doumen
0314-5257 FADALKO (FR) 10-11-05 Sir Robert Ogden Paul Nicholls/Seamus Durack
F133-2227 CHIVES (IRE) 8-11-03 Trevor Hemmings Henrietta Knight/Richard Guest
23PF5-1123 IRIS BLEU (FR) 7-11-01 David Johnson Martin Pipe/
B4-51233 AD HOC (IRE) 9-10-13 Sir Robert Ogden Paul Nicholls/Paul Carberry
PP-P3314 BALLINCLAY KING (IRE) 9-10-10 Ian Guise, Brian Leatherday & Nicola Spence Ferdy Murphy/Davy Russell
1U6-P6P00P CARBURY CROSS (IRE) 9-10-10 Anne Duchess of Westminster Jonjo O'Neill/
1-0FF248 BINDAREE (IRE) 9-10-09 Raymond Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies/Carl Llewellyn
P51-04F0P TAKE CONTROL (IRE) 9-10-09 David Johnson Martin Pipe/
320-1311 YOULNEVERWALKALONE (IRE) 9-10-09 J P McManus Christy Roche IRE/
F11-21P00 THE BUNNY BOILER (IRE) 9-10-08 The Usual Suspects Syndicate Noel Meade IRE/John Cullen
P513-3609 BLOWING WIND (FR) 10-10-07 Peter Deal Martin Pipe/
3540P-1P29 YOU'RE AGOODUN 11-10-07 Jeff Lammiman Martin Pipe/
00/4/13-255 KATARINO (FR) 8-10-06 Robert Waley-Cohen Nicky Henderson/Mick Fitzgerald
4552F1/4 RED MARAUDER 13-10-06 The Red Revolution Richard Guest/Henry Oliver
P1PP-5022 RED STRIKER 9-10-06 The Red Revolution Richard Guest/Mr Larry McGrath
4P2-20208 SOUTHERN STAR (IRE) 8-10-06 Trevor Hemmings Henrietta Knight/Dominic Elsworth
3P631364 MONTY'S PASS (IRE) 10-10-05 Dee Racing Syndicate Jimmy Mangan IRE/Barry Geraghty
1210F0-8 MAJED (FR) 7-10-03 Sandicroft Stud II Martin Pipe/
01-3632403 AMBERLEIGH HOUSE (IRE) 11-10-02 Halewood International Ltd Ginger McCain/Graham Lee
1162-4494 MAXIMIZE (IRE) 9-10-02 Lady Vestey Henrietta Knight/Jim Culloty
1/1P1P-P2 MONTIFAULT (FR) 8-10-02 Mrs A E Fulton Paul Nicholls/Joe Tizzard
112142P POLAR CHAMP 10-10-02 The Reims Partnership Martin Pipe/
24532P7674 CREGG HOUSE (IRE) 8-10-01 Kathleen Kennedy Paddy Mullins IRE/
P-0543P8 GOOD SHUIL (IRE) 8-10-01 C S G Ltd Charlie Mann/Noel Fehily
21312-2 MANTLES PRINCE 9-10-01 Rod Juckes Alan Juckes/Ollie McPhail
2P/2131-21 TORDUFF EXPRESS (IRE) 12-10-01 Two Plus Two Paul Nicholls/Timmy Murphy
41U5131U GOGUENARD (FR) 9-10-00 Trevor Hemmings Sue Smith/
5122-1301 GUNNER WELBURN 11-10-00 William Ritson/David Hall Andrew Balding/Barry Fenton
1163-1052 GUNTHER MCBRIDE (IRE) 8-10-00 Mike Tuckey Philip Hobbs/
22P500-1 ROYAL PREDICA (FR) 9-10-00 Peter Deal, John Dale, Allan Stennett Martin Pipe/
1415-4P57 SUPREME GLORY (IRE) 10-10-00 Chris Moorsom Pat Murphy/Leighton Aspell
F/10616-003 TREMALLT (IRE) 12-10-00 Silkword Racing Partnership Tom George/Jason Maguire
P5U-4134 WONDER WEASEL (IRE) 10-10-00 David Halsall Kim Bailey/J P McNamara
3420505 DJEDDAH (FR) 12-9-13 Haras d'Ecouves Francois Doumen FR/
112210-P BURLU (FR) 9-9-12 Martin Pipe Martin Pipe/
1100F-0606 RED ARK 10-9-12 The Red Revolution Richard Guest/Kenny Johnson
13r5-1P3 MACS GILDORAN 9-9-11 Margaret McManus Willie Mullins IRE/
6-01331054P ROBBO 9-9-11 The Scarth Racing Partnership Mary Reveley/Alan Dempsey
20-3120077 BRAMBLEHILL DUKE (IRE) 11-9-10 South Wales Shower Supplies T/A Faucets Venetia Williams/
F425154 EMPEREUR RIVER (FR) 11-9-10 P Matran Jacques Ortet FR/Mr P Pailhes1F/12P1-P GRANIT D'ESTRUVAL (FR) 9-9-10 Walter Gott Ferdy Murphy/Doubtful
21/D111/1 KILLUSTY (IRE) 9-9-10 Lady Lloyd-Webber Charles Egerton/
21PP-650 MURT'S MAN (IRE) 9-9-10 Derek Millard Paul Nicholls/Miss Polly Gundry
1126UP-6 SPOT THEDIFFERENCE (IRE) 10-9-10 J P McManus Enda Bolger IRE/David Casey
600032- DARK STRANGER (FR) 12-9-09 Terry Neill Martin Pipe/
P5421-130 FATEHALKHAIR (IRE) 11-9-09 R Wagner Brian Ellison/Vinnie Keane
44/P-11U0 HALEXY (FR) 8-9-08 Sir Robert Ogden Venetia Williams/
1P2-321366 HISTORG (FR) 8-9-08 Jim McCarthy Ferdy Murphy/
35PP-05 SMARTY (IRE) 10-9-08 Tracey Brown Mark Pitman/
2PP-214P KIT SMARTIE (IRE) 11-9-07 Don Forster Don Forster/
00316P02 AKARUS (FR) 8-9-06 A J White Martin Pipe/
22-12F3P HANDYMAN (IRE) 9-9-06 Elizabeth Hodgson and Denise Winton Philip Hobbs/
4111/54-73 BERLIN BLUE 10-9-05 Peter J Douglas Engineering Robert Stronge/
23PP-0P02P MORAL SUPPORT (IRE) 11-9-05 Tom & Evelyn Yates Stan Moore/
4B2F010421 QUALITY FIRST (IRE) 10-9-05 Felix Sheridan Heather Dalton/
13-4314405 LANMIRE TOWER (IRE) 9-9-04 Rowfield Racing Alan King/
1-331P3 SKYCAB (IRE) 11-9-04 P H Betts (Holdings) Ltd Josh Gifford/
11P-1P13 JURANCON II (FR) 6-9-03 David Johnson Martin Pipe/
F-004653B60 MODULOR (FR) 11-9-03 Fergus Wilson Yannick Fertillet FR/
4553420 WHEREAREYOUNOW (IRE) 6-9-03 Raymond Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies/
64032-54P CEANANNAS MOR (IRE) 9-9-01 Major Christopher Hanbury Nicky Henderson/
FP-414079P SAD MAD BAD (USA) 9-9-01 Peter Savill Mary Reveley/
PU4503-P5 KAKI CRAZY (FR) 8-8-11 Archie Gooch Martin Pipe/
511115P PESSIMISTIC DICK 10-8-09 Frank Flynn and Richard Madden Hughie Morrison/
2P046-PPP70 SHANNON GALE (IRE) 11-8-09 J P McManus Christy Roche IRE/
241-F22F11 TOM'S PRIZE 8-8-08 Mrs P Joynes John Spearing/
52/100P//-3F SCOTIA NOSTRA (IRE) 11-8-07 Favourites Racing Venetia Williams/
2P6/-323P0 NO PROBLEM (IRE) 12-8-06 T Cronin Pat O'Keeffe IRE /
214FPP00P PRANCING BLADE 10-8-06 Gavin MacEchern Nigel Twiston-Davies/
1341130P44 MOTHERS HELP 8-8-05 Berkshire Commercial Components Ltd Dai Williams/
P4U513-4462 FOLLY ROAD (IRE) 13-8-04 Miss L Horner Dai Williams /
3211/1P/-4P2 LAMBRINI GOLD 9-8-04 Halewood International Ltd Ginger McCain/
133-P566121 MR BOSSMAN (IRE) 10-8-04 Norman Mason Norman Mason/
2P06P-0453 SCOTMAIL BOY (IRE) 10-8-04 George Tobitt Howard Johnson/
61PP-26P4P66 STORM OF GOLD (IRE) 10-8-04 Reliance Car Hire Services Ltd Dai Williams/

81 remain

The following 24 horses came out at the five-day confirmation stage:
CYFOR MALTA (FR), FOXCHAPEL KING (IRE), HUSSARD COLLONGES (FR), RINCE RI (IRE), BATMAN SENORA (FR), MORE THAN A STROLL (IRE), DAVIDS LAD (IRE), STORMEZ (FR), PAPILLON (IRE), BOUNCE BACK (USA), GO ROGER GO (IRE), THE BAJAN BANDIT (IRE), WHITENZO (FR), ZAFARABAD (IRE), RATHBAWN PRINCE (IRE), PALADIN (FR), STORMYFAIRWEATHER (IRE), FRANTIC TAN (IRE), SKIPPERS CLEUCH (IRE), NORTHERN SOUND (IRE), DELGANY ROYAL (IRE), TRINITRO, BILLY THE SNAKE (IRE), KINGS MISTRAL (IRE).



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