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Monday, April 5, 2010


- Three previous winners could line up, Power will be reunited with Silver Birch

- Madden on Made In Taipan

- Howard Johnson faces anxious wait

- State Of Play and Maljimar’s trainers look forward to big race

A total of 65 hopefuls remained in the John Smith’s Grand National after today’s five-day confirmation stage, with no less than 55 of those (85 per cent) still in the handicap of the famous chase that takes place at Aintree on Saturday at 4.15pm.

This year’s race carries a record £925,000 in prize money and could see as many as three previous winners taking part. Last year’s 100/1 scorer Mon Mome - just a 12/1 chance with totesport 12 months on - is set to line up on Saturday, as is 2008 hero and 2009 runner-up Comply Or Die.

Another now looking increasingly likely to get a run is Silver Birch, winner in 2007. There is a maximum field size of 40 in the John Smith’s Grand National and Silver Birch is currently jointly 41st in the list of runners so is certain to be one of the four reserves, if not sure to make the final line-up.

British Horseracing Authority Head of Handicapping Phil Smith today ranked the horses on 10st 5lb in order of current ratings and Silver Birch and Cerium are jointly on number 41. There will be a draw at Weatherbys tomorrow (Tuesday) to determine which of the two horses will be ranked 41 and 42.

Trainer Gordon Elliott today confirmed that Robbie Power - who partnered Silver Birch to his 2007 win - will be aboard again on Saturday if the 13-year-old makes the cut. Elliott has also targeted Backstage at the race all season.

“Silver Birch will run in the John Smith’s Grand National if he gets in otherwise he’ll go for the John Smith’s Topham Chase on Friday. Robbie Power will ride him,” Elliott said.

“Backstage is excellent. We weren’t too disappointed with his last run as the ground was really difficult at Navan. He’ll be coming over to Aintree on Thursday.”

Another trainer facing an anxious few days is County Durham handler Howard Johnson, whose two contenders are both close to the cut-off point.

Abbeybraney is certain of a run as number 40 in the handicap, but Johnson’s main hope Royal Rosa still needs three to come out to get into the race. With stable jockey Denis O’Regan set to partner the Dessie Hughes-trained Black Apalachi, Johnson could give Ryan Mania a first John Smith’s Grand National mount.

“Both the horses are really well. I took them down to the sea at Redcar this morning and they loved it. I’ll be schooling them over Grand National fences at home on Wednesday and I’ll decide then about the jockeys,” revealed Johnson.

“Denis couldn’t do the weight for my two and I may give Ryan (Mania) his first John Smith’s Grand National ride and I’ve got another good lad in Wilson Renwick.

“The one I really want to run is Royal Rosa and, if it means getting him in, I would have to take Abbeybraney out.”

Nigel Twiston-Davies, who is bidding to become the first trainer since Fred Rimell in 1976 to win the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup and John Smith’s Grand National in the same season, could have as many as six runners in this year’s race.

The trainer’s 17-year-old amateur son, Sam Twiston-Davies, is set to partner Hello Bud, while stable jockey Paddy Brennan, who was aboard Imperial Commander when winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, will partner Irish Raptor.

Twiston-Davies looks also set to run Beat The Boys (Brian Hughes), Ballyfitz (David England) and Ollie Magern (Tom Molloy), while Brian Harding will be aboard Knowhere, currently number 44 on the list of contenders, if he makes the cut.

While Twiston-Davies has twice previously won the John Smith’s Grand National - with Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002) - champion trainer Paul Nicholls will be bidding for a first success this year.

He looks set to have four representatives including totesport’s current 15/2 favourite Big Fella Thanks. AON Chase winner Tricky Trickster, last year’s John Smith’s Grand National third My Will and Nozic, who will be partnered by last year’s winning rider Liam Treadwell, complete Nicholls’ team.

The first six home from last year’s John Smith’s Grand National could all line up again on Saturday. As well as the first three, Mon Mome, Comply Or Die and My Will, trainer Evan Williams today confirmed the 2009 fourth-placed State Of Play on course for Saturday, when he could also meet Cerium (fifth in 2009) and Big Fella Thanks (sixth) again.

State Of Play has deliberately been kept fresh for the big race by Williams, having not run since the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup on November 29.

“We’ve always been keen to train him with the National in mind and he’s always better after a long break. He’s very, very well. He’s had a great preparation and has not missed a day’s work,” reported Williams.

“It’s always nice to be reasonably weighted but the weight is perhaps the most trivial piece in the jigsaw. Around Aintree I think it’s the luck you need most.

“As long as the ground is good-to-soft we’ve got no worries. It’s the extreme going that will be a cause for concern.”

Another who will be running with full stable confidence after being kept back for the John Smith’s Grand National is the Nick Williams-trained Maljimar, who has not run since December 11.

“We’ve deliberately laid him out for this race,” said Williams.”He needs to be fresh. Last year he ran at the Cheltenham Festival and then Aintree (where he was pulled up) and it didn’t work. The ground is not a problem as long as it’s not heavy because that would test his stamina but that’s not going to happen.”

Williams is also hoping to run his exciting juvenile hurdler Me Voici in Thursday’s Grade 1 Matalan 4-Y-O Novices’ Hurdle.

“Our greater concern is going to be the ground on Thursday for Me Voici, who needs it soft,” added the Devon trainer.

Six of the last 11 John Smith’s Grand National winners were trained in Ireland and 19 of those still remaining in the 2010 race are stabled across the Irish Sea.

Stablemates Vic Venturi and Black Apalachi, respectively winners of the totesport.com Becher Chase at Aintree in 2009 and 2008, look among the leading challengers from Ireland.

Meanwhile, trainer Tom Mullins revealed today that Niall Madden - who rode the 2006 John’s Smith’s Grand National winner Numbersixvalverde and has completed the course on all three of his rides - will partner Made In Taipan this year’s contest.

“The horse is in great nick and I’m delighted that we have booked Slippers (Madden) to ride him,” said Mullins.

Comply Or Die is set to be joined in Saturday’s race by stablemate The Package, who is also owned by David Johnson and was a fast-finishing second in the William Hill Trophy Chase at Cheltenham. Both horses schooled at David Pipe’s stable this morning with Timmy Murphy set to decide shortly which of the pair he will ride. Graham Lee will partner the other of the duo.

The 14-time champion jockey Tony McCoy will bid to win his first John Smith’s Grand National at the 15th attempt on Saturday. He is another leaving a decision late on his likely mount, which will either be Can’t Buy Time or Don’t Push It, both trained by Jonjo O’Neill for J P McManus. Richie McLernon will ride partner whichever horse McCoy rejects.

This season’s Welsh National hero Dream Alliance and last season’s Irish Grand National winner Niche Market are among the other leading fancies while Character Building looks set to carry new colours after being bought by David and Patricia Thompson of Cheveley Park Stud, who also bought the 1992 hero Party Politics on the eve of the race.

The latest John Smith's Grand National betting from totesport: 15/2 Big Fella Thanks, 12 Black Apalachi, Mon Mome, 14 The Package (from 16), 16 Tricky Trickster, 20 Backstage, Character Building, State Of Play, Vic Venturi, 22 Whinstone Boy, 25 Can’t Buy Time, Don’t Push It, 28 Ballyholland (from 33), Chief Dan George, Comply Or Die, Maljimar, 33 Dream Alliance, Irish Raptor, 40 Cloudy Lane, Hello Bud, King Johns Castle, My Will, 50 Abbeybraney, Ballyfitz, Ballytrim, Cerium, Eric’s Charm, Joe Lively, Madison Du Berlais, Officier De Reserve, Palypso De Creek, 66/1 bar. ¼ odds 1-2-3-4. Non runner, no bet.


Big Fella Thanks heads the market at 15/2 with Aintree's official betting partner totesport with Black Apalachi and last year's winner Mon Mome next in the betting at 12/1.

‘The Ruby factor should ensure that Big Fella Thanks goes off favourite for this year's Grand National, but one horse that is gathering momentum in the market is The Package,' said totesport spokesman George Primarolo. ‘If Timmy Murphy chooses him over previous winner Comply Or Die, he could end up being a lot shorter on the day.'

The Package was cut to 14/1 (from 16/1) this morning by totesport, while other horses to shorten at the latest declaration stage include Ballyholland, who has been trimmed to 28/1 (from 33s).


Four millimetres of rain fell overnight, but today has been dry if cold.

Andrew Tulloch, Aintree’s clerk of the course, said this afternoon: ”We have lovely ground at the moment. The rain we had last night means that the courses have not dried at all today and we are waiting to see how much rain we get tomorrow afternoon or evening. After that, it is forecast to be dry barring the odd shower.”

The official going is:
Grand National Course - Good to soft, soft in places.

Hurdle - Good to soft.

Mildmay - Good to soft, good in places.

The forecast is:
Tuesday - cloudy most of the day, with rain from late afternoon (three to six millimetres).
Wednesday - cloud clearing to give sunny spells, possible odd shower.
Thursday to Saturday - looking mainly dry with sunny periods; 13/14 degrees.


This year's Champion Hurdle runner-up Khyber Kim heads a superb entry of 11 for the £160,000 Grade One John Smith's Dick Francis Aintree Hurdle (2.50pm). The eight-year-old, from the stable of Nigel Twiston-Davies, found only Binocular three and a half lengths too strong at Prestbury Park and is set to bid for a third victory of the campaign following impressive Cheltenham wins in both the Greatwood Hurdle and the Boylesports.com International.

Zaynar came home third behind Khyber Kim in the Champion Hurdle and the Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-old bids to reverse the placings alongside Celestial Halo, who was fourth in the Cheltenham feature for Paul Nicholls. Henderson may also be represented by Afsoun, who took third in this race three years ago, and the talented chaser Petit Robin.

Irish-trained horses boast a fantastic record in the John Smith's Dick Francis Aintree Hurdle, having taken the previous five renewals, and a potential challenge of three from across the Irish Sea includes the Noel Meade-trained pair of Donnas Palm and Muirhead, who have both been second in the Irish Champion Hurdle. Sabrina Harty has entered Won In The Dark, whose finest hour came when taking the Punchestown Champion 4YO Hurdle in 2008.

Howard Johnson has engaged Cheltenham Festival runner-up Arcalis and Quwetwo, who lowered the colours of Zaynar at Kelso in February, while the possible field is completed by the Peter Bowen-trained Souffleur, a Grade One winner as a novice in December, 2007.

Saturday's card also features the £110,000 Grade One John Smith's Maghull Novices' Chase and an entry of 21 includes the Nicky Henderson-trained pair of Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase fourth Mad Max and French Opera, who took the runner-up spot behind Pigeon Island in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase at Cheltenham.

Other notable contenders include the Edward O'Grady-trained Osana, who finished a place ahead of Mad Max in the Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase, and An Cathaoir Mor, who triumphed in the Irish equivalent for Henry De Bromhead. Paul Nicholls may be represented by Grade Two scorer Tataniano, while Nicky Richards has entered the progressive Noble Alan, who landed the Grade Two Scottish Champion Hurdle last season.

The action gets underway with the £60,000 John Smith's Mersey Novices' Hurdle, for which 24 horses have been entered headed by the unbeaten Peddlers Cross, who triumphed in the Grade One Neptune Investment Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on his latest start.

Phidippides and Quantitativeeasing may re-oppose each other, having fought out the finish to a novices' contest at Kempton in February, while Bygones Of Brid triumphed in a Grade Two Hurdle at Kelso on his most recent outing.

A total of 26 horses have been entered for the £60,000 John Smith's Handicap Chase (3.25pm), while several future stars of the weighing room are set to be on show in the £40,000 John Smith's Handicap Hurdle (5.00pm), for which an entry of 47 has been received.

Connections will be hoping that Smithy The Horse takes his chance in the final race on Saturday's card, the £35,000 John Smith's Champion Open NH Flat Race (5.35pm). The four-year-old gelding, one of 50 entries for the Grade Two contest, is owned by a legion of John Smith's drinkers and was fifth on his racecourse debut for Donald McCain Jnr at Catterick in February.


Class 1, Grade 3, £925,000 total Prize Fund. 4.15pm, Aintree, Saturday, April 10, 2010, four miles and four furlongs. For six-year-olds and upwards which are allotted a rating of 110 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 14, 2010. Horses which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at February 2, 2010, 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 14, 2010, would merit a minimum rating of 110. To qualify horses must have run at least three times in Steeple Chases run under the Rules of Racing of the same Recognised Turf Authority up to and including February 14, 2010. At the Handicapper's discretion such horses may be allocated a rating. The decision of the BHA Head of Handicapping shall be final. No penalties after publication of the weights. Highest weight 11st 10lb. Entries closed February 2, entries revealed February 3 (112 entries. 1 subsequently scratched), weights revealed February 16, first scratchings deadline March 2 (98 remain), second scratchings deadline March 23 (75 remained). Five-day confirmation stage April 5, final declaration stage 10.00am (65 confirmations), April 8. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Sunday, April 4.

Form Horse Age/Wgt Owner Trainer/Probable Jockey
1) 01-3244 MADISON DU BERLAIS (FR) 9-11-10 Roger Stanley & Yvonne Reynolds II David Pipe/Tom Scudamore
2) 1-P3463 MON MOME (FR) 10-11-07 Vida Bingham Venetia Williams/Aidan Coleman
3) 151U-02 BLACK APALACHI (IRE) 11-11-06 Gerard Burke Dessie Hughes IRE/Denis O’Regan
4) 5-50030 JOE LIVELY (IRE) 11-11-06 Richard Dimond Colin Tizzard/Joe Tizzard
5) 211501 VIC VENTURI (IRE) 10-11-06 James Dunne Dessie Hughes IRE/Paddy Flood
6) P002-00 COMPLY OR DIE (IRE) 11-11-05 David Johnson David Pipe/Timmy Murphy or Graham Lee
7) 01-423P DON'T PUSH IT (IRE) 10-11-05 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill/Tony McCoy or Richie McLernon
8) 2404P2 MADE IN TAIPAN (IRE) 8-11-04 Frances Duffin/Sean Corby Tom Mullins IRE/Niall Madden
9) 1-03520 NICHE MARKET (IRE) 9-11-04 Graham Regan Bob Buckler/Harry Skelton
10) 121-210 TRICKY TRICKSTER (IRE) 7-11-04 Chris Giles Paul Nicholls/Barry Geraghty

11) FU-3644 CLOUDY LANE 10-11-03 Trevor Hemmings Donald McCain Jnr/Jason Maguire
12) UPP/-21P DREAM ALLIANCE 9-11-03 The Alliance Partnership Philip Hobbs/Tom O’Brien
13) 1P00-60 NOZIC (FR) 9-11-03 Coral Racing Ltd Paul Nicholls/Liam Treadwell
14) 53-2057 MY WILL (FR) 10-11-02 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls/Nick Scholfield
15) 3606-4F PABLO DU CHARMIL (FR) 9-11-02 Joe Moran David Pipe/Danny Cook
16) 123130 BACKSTAGE (FR) 8-11-00 MPR & Capranny Syndicate Gordon Elliott IRE/Davy Condon
17) 6-51110 BALLYHOLLAND (IRE) 9-11-00 Cathal McGovern Colin McBratney IRE/Andrew McNamara
18) P-1P1PP BEAT THE BOYS (IRE) 9-11-00 New Club Ladies Nigel Twiston-Davies/Brian Hughes
19) 0-000U0 PREISTS LEAP (IRE) 10-11-00 John O'Donohue & Tom O'Leary Tom O'Leary IRE/Philip Enright
20) 14F-016 CAN'T BUY TIME (IRE) 8-10-13 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill/Tony McCoy or Richie McLernon

21) 103223 SNOWY MORNING (IRE) 10-10-13 Quayside Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE/David Casey
22) 136-2U1 BIG FELLA THANKS 8-10-12 Maggie Findlay & Paul Barber Paul Nicholls/Ruby Walsh
23) 3301-00 CHARACTER BUILDING (IRE) 10-10-11 Patricia Thompson John Quinn/
24) 60/144-P STATE OF PLAY 10-10-11 William & Angela Rucker Evan Williams/Paul Moloney
25) 0-12100 ELLERSLIE GEORGE (IRE) 10-10-10 Guy Henderson Nick Mitchell/Christian Willlams
26) 4P1540 BALLYFITZ 10-10-09 Fred & Wayne Mills Nigel Twiston-Davies/David England
27) 43545U CONNA CASTLE (IRE) 11-10-09 Kings Syndicate Jimmy Mangan IRE/Sean Flanagan
28) 2P5-011 ERIC'S CHARM (FR) 12-10-09 Martin St Quinton & Peter Deal Oliver Sherwood/Wayne Hutchinson
29) 2/0-0000 KING JOHNS CASTLE (IRE) 11-10-09 J P McManus Arthur Moore IRE/Paul Carberry
30) 305467 OLLIE MAGERN 12-10-09 Roger Nicholls Nigel Twiston-Davies/Tom Molloy

31) 30-30U2 ARBOR SUPREME (IRE) 8-10-08 J P McManus Willie Mullins IRE/Paul Townend
32) 02P-253 MALJIMAR (IRE) 10-10-08 Jane Williams Nick Williams/Daryl Jacob
33) U01-4U5 IRISH RAPTOR (IRE) 11-10-07 Caroline Beresford-Wylie Nigel Twiston-Davies/Paddy Brennan
34) P/6220-0 MR POINTMENT (IRE) 11-10-07 Judith Wilson Paul Murphy/Ken Whelan
35) 0-33010 PIRAYA (FR) 7-10-07 Terry Neill David Pipe/Johnny Farrelly
36) 3-02312 THE PACKAGE 7-10-07 David Johnson David Pipe/Timmy Murphy or Graham Lee
37) 035U00 HELLO BUD (IRE) 12-10-06 Seamus Murphy Nigel Twiston-Davies/Mr Sam Twiston-Davies
38) P6-1420 PALYPSO DE CREEK (FR) 7-10-06 Alan Halsall Charlie Longsdon/Tom Siddall
*39) P63/52-P FLINTOFF (USA) 9-10-05 Andrew Flintoff & Paul Beck Venetia Williams/
*40) 3/32-31P ABBEYBRANEY (IRE) 9-10-05 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson/Ryan Mania or Wilson Renwick

*41=) 0PP/05-0 CERIUM (FR) 9-10-05 Judith Wilson Paul Murphy/Davy Russell
*41=) F-26r20 SILVER BIRCH (IRE) 13-10-05 Brian Walsh (Co. Kildare) Gordon Elliott IRE/Robbie Power
*43) 56/-33P5 ROYAL ROSA (FR) 11-10-05 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson/Ryan Mania or Wilson Renwick
*44) 3PP462F KNOWHERE (IRE) 12-10-04 Raymond Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies/Brian Harding
*45) 4F1311 WHINSTONE BOY (IRE) 9-10-04 Whinstone Syndicate Jimmy Mangan IRE/
*46) 25-0560 OODACHEE 11-10-04 Modreeny Syndicate Charlie Swan IRE/
*47) P03-402 FAASEL (IRE) 9-10-03 Hush Hush Partnership David Pipe/
*48) 1r40P-0 OFFICIER DE RESERVE (FR) 8-10-03 Seasons Holidays Venetia Williams/
*49) 5-30011 CHIEF DAN GEORGE (IRE) 10-10-02 Maurice Chapman Jimmy Moffatt/Paddy Aspell
*50) 111P20 DUERS (IRE) 8-10-02 Kate Kelly/Kate Ronan Paul Magnier IRE/

*51=) 01-1F01 BALLYTRIM (IRE) 9-10-01 Violet O'Leary Willie Mullins IRE/
*51=) 0-0U004 OFFSHORE ACCOUNT (IRE) 10-10-01 Brian Polly Charlie Swan IRE/
*53) P220P6 PAK JACK (FR) 10-10-01 The Pak Jack Partnership Richard Phillips/
*54=) 66//4-547 KINGS ADVOCATE (IRE) 10-10-00 Maine Syndicate Tom Taaffe IRE/
*54=) 3F-116P TREACLE (IRE) 9-10-00 Bjorn Nielsen Tom Taaffe IRE/
*56) 45-2613 GALANT NUIT (FR) 6-9-13 David Parry Ferdy Murphy/
*57) 31F4-22 BELON GALE (IRE) 7-9-12 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson/James O’Farrell
*58) 5-0600P POMME TIEPY (FR) 7-9-12 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE/
*59) 21-02D6 MERIGO (FR) 9-9-10 Ray & Anita Green Andrew Parker/
*60) 3414-00 CHIARO (FR) 8-9-09 Andrew Cohen Philip Hobbs/

*61) 4-U335P ACCORDING TO JOHN (IRE) 10-9-08 Sir Robert Ogden Nicky Richards/
*62) 512P0P LORUM LEADER (IRE) 9-9-07 Dr Richard & Laura Newland Dr Richard Newland/
*63) 42/-0PP0 OVER THE CREEK 11-9-04 David Johnson David Pipe/
*64) 3P/-FP52 WEE ROBBIE 10-9-00 P H Betts (Holdings) Ltd Nick Gifford/
*65) 1/P6P-4P OFFALY (IRE) 9-8-12 The Pole to Pole Partnership Pru Townsley/

* new elimination order according to current ratings - where horses are on the same rating there will be draw at Weatherbys to decide the order of elimination.

65 five-day confirmations
19 Irish-trained

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