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23rd May 2024 12:58 am

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

Aintree Grand National Festival Day 1

These Donors Are AMAZING Thank You

William S – MEJi – Peter N – Nigel B – Ken C – Mark S – James D – William M – Fiona M – Julian A – Jonathan H – Mrs V.M – Pete BN – Gavin C – Thom S – Sarah C – Mark S – Sam H – James R

By the time you read this, the Factor 200 will be out, my solar topee will have been unpacked and I shall be singing lustily Una Paloma Blanco at the Albanian Jig-a-jig Piano Bar on the Magaluf strip. I’m not sure where The Hon will be, but not far away I suggest from the automatic Sangria dispenser – two litres for £2. What can possibly go wrong….

The Grand National is a race full of historical errors, accidents, heroic deeds and sad tales – all of them more interesting than my holiday tales, (though not the photographs!).

Here are some facts you might not have known.

  • In 1947, Major Skrine wanted to ride his own Martin M in the race and had one of his legs surgically shortened to match the one that had been injured in the war. He completed.
  • In 1839, Capt. Martin Becher was disputing the lead when his horse, Conrad, refused and put his rider into the brook. Capt Becher remarked that the ditch water would taste better with brandy.
  • Hotelier William Lynn started the Waterloo Cup in order to fill his hotels, mid-week. At that time, coursing was the biggest UK spectator sport – but he then wondered how to keep the punters on for the weekend, after the coursing had finished. Thus the Grand National
  • The Olympic showjumping gold medallist Sir Harry Llewellyn came second in 1936 on Ego.
  • In 1862, on the morning of the race, Irish jockey James Wynne was told his sister had died – and his owner of course suggested he be replaced, but Jim insisted on taking part, only to die from a fall.
  • The most starters to set off were 66 in 1929.
  • The Duke of Alberquerque rode the last of his many National rides aged 57, by which time he had broken 22 bones and suffered 107 fractures.
  • Lottery, the winner of the first race, ended his days pulling a cart in Neasden, North London
  • The oldest rider to complete the race was 68-year-old Tim Durant, a stunt rider for Westerns. The oldest winner was 48-year-old amateur Dick Saunders.
  • Red Rum was named well: by Quorum out of Mared.
  • The 1994 winner, Minnehoma, was owned by the Liverpudlian singer Freddie Starr.
  • The Foinavon fence (the one after Becher’s) is named after Foinavon who won at 100/1 after a massive pile-up there in to win the race in 1967. The horse was backed by John Ridgeway who had been the first to row the Atlantic with Chay Blyth, because he wanted to build his first adventure training school for kids in the Highlands – at Foinavon. He won enough to start the School.
  • Aldaniti, was bred by Thomas Barron – whose grandchildren provided the name: Alastair, David, Nicola and Timothy.
  • Successful bookmaker, Ambrose Gorham, owned 1902 winner, Shannon Lass. When he died, he left the Sussex village of Telscombe, which he owned, to the Brighton Corporation with the following instruction: ‘I direct the Corporation shall prefer a man who is a sportsman and not a total abstainer from alcohol and tobacco’. Having established the village as a training centre, he gave every village child a pair of Wellingtons and a book at Christmas.
  • Once a Viking settlement where all the trees were cut down for security – apart from one: Ain Tree.

Talking of little-known facts, here are my thoughts on the possible outcomes for the televised Aintree races


2:20 AINTREE Jewson Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hdl (G1) Cl1 (4yo) 2m1f

Four for me here on the trends: NUSRET – RIGHTSOTOM – SCRIPTWRITER – ZENTA. The latter ran a solid race when coming 3rd in the Triumph, and if you believe Cheltenham’s form is a benefit rather than a hindrance, then that run sets the benchmark. NUSRET also has decent form winning the Adonis at Kempton LTO; conditions look similar. SCRIPTWRITER wasn’t 100% in the same race and I’m hoping he’s going to bounce back – based largely on his price and greed. RIGHTSOTOM was 6th in The Triumph and might conceivably run on to a 3rd/4th place. They must have some pretty high opinions about CHAOS CONTROL at his yard or they might be pot hunting. £550 to enter and £1400 for 6th, you’re breaking even on the days racing costs, so why not?

ZENTA to win an Acca bet**   –   SCRIPTWRITER 2 pts e/w

2:55 AINTREE Alder Hey Aintree Bowl Chs (G1) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m1f

What a simply splendid race – so many questions. Is John Dance ever coming back? What had Vertem been doing? The back stories to this make a day’s racing at Exeter with the Currans look positively tame. For my part, I never fancied BRAVEMANSGAME regardless of ownership, I think he had a tough Gold Cup and the record for those top 4 placers in the Gold Cup is but I do want to see SHISHKIN come back to form. Very small prices all around and so I’m going to be reckless and suggest the following: Willie Mullins’ SAINT ROI in the meeting’s first race, the Manifesto – they’ll probably show a recording of it: and these:

ZENTA (2.20) – SAINT ROI (1.45) – SHISHKIN (2.55) – CONSTITUTION HILL (3.30) 4 x 1pts Trebles and 1 pt 4’fold **

3:30 AINTREE William Hill Aintree Hdl (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4f

CONSTITUTION HILL has spanked all of these bar one: Willie Mullins SHARJAH. EPATANTE won this last year for Henderson, and while she couldn’t touch CH in the Fighting Fifth or Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle four months ago, she provides everyone with a helpful yard-stick. Gordon Elliott’s runs ZANAHIYR and NT-D has I LIKE TO MOVE IT, representing the “Still in the prize money” runners – third and sixth, respectively, in the Champion Hurdle. Alan King’s brilliant veteran SCEAU ROYAL gets cheekpieces for the first time and completes the sextet. If I was going to play this – other than the recommended treble above – I might have a pop at the Trifecta.


4:05 AINTREE Randox Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chs Cl2 (6yo+) 2m5f

The Grand National, The Topham Chase and the Foxhunters Chase are the only three races running over the national fences during the Grand National meeting. The Foxhunters is open to 6yo+, and it is only for amateur jockeys to ride. It’s a strong race for trends, and I have the following shortlist MAGIC SAINT 14/1 – BENNYS KING 16/1 – LATENIGHTPASS 6/1 – WINGED LEADER 4/1F – REIKERS ISLAND 50/1. LATENIGHTPASS won this last year, and I strongly believe in the benefit of GN fence experience. WINGED LEADER experiences the course for the first time and if he copes, then he must surely have a fighting chance – but the price is way too low for my liking. MAGIC SAINT for me and one from the ether NOT THAT FUISE who has got threads of decent form.

MAGIC SAINT 3 pts e/w – NOT THAT FUISE 1 pt e/w

4:40 AINTREE Close Brothers Red Rum Hcap Chs Cl1 (5yo+) 2m

HASANKEY meets all the conditions of my theory about Handicap Chasers at Aintree. The special Kneesup Theory No 235b combines weight and rating and has a strike rate of over 16% on e/w bets with a profit of 80+ pts. Probably. Outside of the many theories of Kneesup, last year’s winner THE LAST DAY is a not unreasonable 11/1, while DOUGLAS TALKING is a likely joint-favourite at around 5/1 based on his two wins (against 6 rivals in total) since having a wind-op and his subsequent rise in the weights by around a stone.  Dan Skelton’s THIRD TIME LUCKI will contest the top of the market, but it is probable that we have seen his best. If I’m wrong mea maxima culpa.

THE LAST DAY 3 pts e/w – HASANKEY 2 pts e/w

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