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Thursday, March 26, 2009



MANGAN BACK ON JOHN SMITH’S GRAND NATIONAL TRAIL WITH HIMALAYAN - EGERTON HOPING DARKNESS WILL SHINE IN AINTREE FEATURE




Six years after saddling Monty’s Pass to win the world’s greatest steeplechase, Jimmy Mangan is looking forward to a return for another shot at Aintree glory with Himalayan Trail, who is set to contest the £900,000 John Smith’s Grand National on Saturday, April 4.


The 10-year-old chaser landed the Listed John Smith’s Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter in March, 2008, for previous handler Sue Smith and, having been bought for £130,000 by his new owner in May, has already gained valuable experience over the formidable National fences when coming fifth on heavy ground in the Listed totesport.com Becher Handicap Chase in November.


County Cork-based Mangan reported: “Himalayan Trail is all set for the John Smith’s Grand National. We gave him a spin over hurdles at Naas in February, when he was 11th, but that was on bottomless ground and he’s a different horse in the spring.


“He’s really turned inside out since the weather has got warmer and better ground is the key for him, so we will be hoping that the rain stays away. I’m really looking forward to seeing how he gets on next weekend.


“His run in the totesport.com Becher Handicap Chase was on desperate ground and he still produced a good run. Barry Geraghty was delighted with him afterwards and he was absolutely thrilled with the way he jumped the fences.


“I am waiting to see whether Barry will be required to ride for Nicky Henderson but he’s certainly been a lucky jockey for me in the past, with Monty’s Pass, and I would love to have him on board Himalayan Trail.”




Himalayan Trail is set to be joined in the John Smith’s Grand National by the Charles Egerton-trained Darkness. The lightly-raced 10-year-old triumphed in the Grade One Feltham Novices’ Chase at Sandown in December, 2005, before a tendon injury kept him off the course for over two years.

He has returned to form this season, scoring in a veterans’ handicap chase at Newbury on his latest appearance on February 28, and his trainer has gone close to John Smith’s Grand National success with another talented but fragile performer, having sent out Mely Moss to finish second to Papillon on his seasonal reappearance in 2000.


Egerton commented: “Our other entry, Hobbs Hill, is running tomorrow at Ascot, but the John Smith’s Grand National has been the plan for Darkness for quite some time and he’s definitely going to line up in the race - as long as he’s still got four legs!

“I was happy with his win at Newbury and everything has gone according to plan. I think that he is crying out for the four and a half mile trip and the further the better for him. He’s had his problems but we have specifically trained him for the John Smith’s Grand National.”

Both Himalayan Trail and Darkness are rated as 33/1 chances for the John Smith’s Grand National by totesport, the Official Betting Partner of the John Smith’s Grand National meeting.


The current market leader for the race is the Paul Nicholls-trained My Will (9/1), who warmed up for Aintree with a good fifth in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup earlier this month.

The 2007 Irish Grand National winner Butler’s Cabin (10/1) also finished fifth at the Cheltenham Festival, behind fellow John Smith’s Grand National contender Character Building (12/1) in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup, while Irish raider Black Apalachi (12/1) is set to return to Aintree following his victory in the totesport.com Becher Handicap Chase in November.

Other leading fancies include Blue Square Gold Cup victor Rambling Minster (14/1), last year’s John Smith’s Grand National hero Comply Or Die (16/1) and the Mouse Morris-trained pair of Hear The Echo (16/1) and War Of Attrition (16/1), who missed his intended engagement in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup but has been well supported this week for Aintree success.

The five-day confirmation stage for the John Smith’s Grand National, which has a maximum field of 40, is on Monday, March 30, with the final declaration stage at 10am on Thursday, April 2.


John Smith's Grand National - totesport bet:
9 My Will, 10 Butler's Cabin, 12 Character Building, Black Apalachi, 14 Rambling Minster, 16 Comply Or Die, Hear The Echo, Big Fella Thanks, Southern Vic, War Of Attrition, 20 Snowy Morning, State Of Play, 25 bar

Each way 1/4 1-2-3-4


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