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Thursday, March 31, 2011



The Waley-Cohen family’s memorable season could hit new heights at Aintree on Saturday, April 9, when Oscar Time (10st 9lb) bids for victory in the £950,000 John Smith’s Grand National.


Oscar Time is the 12/1 co-second favourite with totesport, official betting partner of the  John Smith’s Grand National meeting.


Owner Robert Waley-Cohen saw his colours carried to victory by amateur rider son Sam aboard the brilliant Long Run in the Grade One totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup last month and now the pair are looking to trainer Martin Lynch’s charge to carry on the dream in the peerless four and a half-mile contest.


The County Westmeath trainer has enjoyed a long association with the family, stretching back to his days as a jockey in the late 1980s, and he is looking forward to giving the younger Waley-Cohen the leg up at Aintree.


Lynch revealed today: “I rode for Robert and I knew Sam as a child. I was based in England through the late 1980s and early 90s and I rode for Robert then. I used to school horses for him at his home.


“We have kept up the connection and I know they are passionate to win the Aintree National, so I thought I had the right horse for it.”


Robert Waley-Cohen purchased Oscar Time, along with Sir Martin Broughton and his brother Steve, after the gelding ran second to Bluesea Cracker in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse for Lynch a year ago. This season, the 10-year-old has raced three times, with Sam Waley-Cohen in the saddle each time.


Oscar Time ran a fine prep race for the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National when third to The Midnight Club in the Grade Two Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse on February 23.


Lynch, 52, continued: “The John Smith’s Grand National has been the only aim this season and he’s 100 per cent after his last run.

“I was very pleased with that, it was his first start over fences since the Irish National last year, so we were delighted with it.


“You don’t know until you run them over four and a half miles but he seemed to get the three-mile, five in the Irish National very well. He has early pace too and I would hope that he would get the trip but you just don’t know.


“Any ground will do, that doesn’t bother him.”


Oscar Time’s biggest success to date came in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown in December, 2009.


Lynch, a Cheltenham Festival winner aboard Elfast in the 1992 Mildmay Of Flete Chase, began training after hanging up his riding boots and is relishing the challenge of preparing a John Smith’s Grand National contender after returning from a self-imposed sabbatical.  He rode twice in the Grand National, doing best when 10th on Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Cool Ground in 1992.


He said: “I trained for a while after I gave up race-riding in 1993 and after taking a few years out I’ve been back training for six years. A combination of a lot of things including young children and a lot of work brought about the decision to take a break.


“It’s fantastic to have a horse going to Aintree and I’m very much looking forward to it.”


After becoming the first amateur since Jim Wilson in 1981 to win the Gold Cup, Sam Waley-Cohen is attempting to follow up Marcus Armytage, who was the last amateur to land the John Smith’s Grand National, aboard Mr Frisk in 1990.


The Cheltenham Gold Cup/John Smith’s Grand National jockey double in the same season was last achieved by Jim Culloty in 2002 when he partnered Best Mate to victory in the former race and Bindaree in the latter.


Latest John Smith’s Grand National prices from totesport:


8/1 The Midnight Club


12/1 Backstage, Oscar Time, What A Friend


14/1 Ballabriggs, Big Fella Thanks, Silver By Nature


16/1 Arbor Supreme, Don’t Push It, Niche Market, Quinz


20/1 Junior, Merigo, Synchronised, West End Rocker


25/1 Ballytrim, Becauseicouldntsee, Bluesea Cracker, Hello Bud, Majestic Concorde, Notre Pere, Skippers Brig, State Of Play, Vic Venturi


33/1 BAR





The going at Aintree remains:






Andrew Tulloch, Aintree’s Clerk of the Course and Director of Racing, reported today: “We had six millimetres of rain overnight which was welcome and the going remains good on all courses.


“The weather today has been windy with some bright sunshine and tomorrow is now forecast to be a fair day. Further showers are predicted for Saturday.


“Looking ahead to next week, there should be some rain around although the forecasts is undecided overall at this stage.


“We will continue to monitor the situation and watering could be utilised if necessary to maintain the current good ground.”




The 2011 John Smith's Grand National meeting runs from Thursday, April 7, to Saturday, April 9, and features top-class racing on each day. Tickets and hospitality packages are still available. Visit www.aintree.co.uk for further information or call 0844 579 3001.


Seats are still available on Thursday, April 7, Liverpool Day, from £24 in West Tip. General Tattersalls admission is still available from £21 and hospitality packages can be purchased from £99. Also on Thursday, Liverpool group The Farm will perform for 60 minutes following racing.


The 2011 John Smith’s Grand National meeting will be opened on Thursday by legendary Knotty Ash comedian Ken Dodd.


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