Garrison makes the case for the old guard

If there is a Cocoon for horses, one of its inhabitants is Garrison Savannah. The 12-year-old struck for the grey beards at Wincanton yesterday much to the enduring delight of his trainer, Jenny Pitman, writes Richard Edmondson.

Since his victory in the Gold Cup of 1991 and subsequent second to Seagram in the Grand National, the signs have been that Garrison Savannah was on the slope of terminal decline. But yesterday the spring, the vim and the tenacity returned in The Racing In Wessex Chase as the gelding recorded his second success from his last three starts.

"He's fabulous, that old horse, isn't he" Pitman said. "In your wildest dreams you would never expect to have such a wonderful servant. For `Garry' to win at this trip around here on this ground is just unbelievable. We think he's wonderful."

Garrison Savannah has followed on from Corbiere (the 1983 National winner) as the horse Pitman would like to plonk in her lap and stroke excessively. He closed remorselessly on the pace-setting Coonawara before holding off a challenge from the disappointing favourite, Young Hustler.

One leg of a 1,111-1 four-timer yesterday for the Pitman stable, Garrison Savannah is a member of a six-strong contingent from her yard for this year's Grand National.

n John Burke, the jumps jockey who completed the rare Cheltenham Gold Cup-Grand National double, on Royal Frolic and Rag Trade in 1976, has died at his home in Upton-upon-Severn at the age of 41.

Obituary, page 16.