Twelve months ago today One Man won the Pillar Chase at Cheltenham and seemed to have thumbed his nose at those murmuring that he could not win over a demanding trip at Prestbury Park. A year on, the grey's career as a staying chaser is dead and he will now be seen only over shorter distances (the King George VI Chase notwithstanding).
One Man next runs in the Comet Chase at Ascot on Wednesday week, when a creditable display will guarantee an appointment with the specialist two-milers at the Festival. "Like most of my horses he has had something, but he seems okay and it's the Champion Chase for him after Ascot," Gordon Richards, the grey's trainer, said yesterday. "He's got bags of speed and will love these shorter races."
Richards has not entirely given up hope of returning the Pillar trophy to Greystoke as he is represented today by Addington Boy, who was withdrawn on the eve of last year's Gold Cup. "Last season we didn't take any chances with him after we discovered heat in a tendon just before the Gold Cup," the trainer added. "We have also chucked him in the National. I think he will stay and Aintree is the right way round for him."
Extravagant targets, then, are ahead for Addington Boy, who is unlikely to be at concert pitch for his racecourse return today. "The wet weather stopped us taking him to a racecourse last week but he is still pretty fit," his trainer said.
See More Business, the King George winner, will be the favourite and deserves to be as he actually gets weight from three of his six rivals. However, this gelding too will not be thrashed to within an inch of his life this afternoon, as other assignments hold greater priority. "Saturday's all about taking on those bigger, trappier fences and putting in a nice clear round," Paul Nicholls, the eight-year-old's trainer, said. "We had him razor sharp at Kempton on Boxing Day, in the form of his life, and now we're gearing him up to Cheltenham.
"I'm not saying we're going to ride him negatively on Saturday, but, at the same time, we're not going to go jumping out as if it's the be all and end all like we had to commit him at Kempton. I've told Timmy [Murphy, the jockey] to get him round and get his confidence up. He'll be galloping up that hill, but 19 March is what it's all about."
Given these disclaimers it may pay to look elsewhere for a horse with form round the track who has been working well at home. Rough Quest (next best 2.55) fits the description.
Later on the card we may witness the final act for two old salts. Large Action and Dublin Flyer have been running recently as though they didn't get the same batteries as the bunny and their races could go to Karshi (3.30) and Challenger Du Luc (4.05) respectively.
Nicholls has Linton Rocks in the day's most valuable event, the Great Yorkshire Chase at Doncaster, while Richards saddles Colonel In Chief as he attempts to follow up the wins of Addington Boy and General Command in the last two years.
The 50th anniversary running of this contest may go, though, to Sounds Strong, who neighed "forget this for a game of soldiers" at Aintree last time when confronted by the Himalayas of spruce. He had a lie down at the first. Previously, however, SOUNDS STRONG (nap 3.10) had finished second to the good yardstick Strath Royal at Wetherby.
A 12-pack of races to go with the six-pack at your feet is completed by three contests from Ayr. Monnaie Forte would be an apt winner for the Berwickshire trainer James Adam but unfortunately romance wins only the Grand National and not the Scottish Sun "Neigh Sun Neigh Fun Handicap Chase (Class B) (for the McAlpine Challenge Cup). Go instead for With Impuntity (2.15).Reuse content