Grand National: Waley-Cohen all spruced up after Liberthine gains Topham victory

In any race over the National fences, the most crucial assets are reckoned to be luck, pluck and experience. Sam Waley-Cohen is so short of the latter that he is not permitted to ride in the big race today, but this young amateur has the other two qualities in such abundance that he is beginning to look a good deal better qualified than Tony McCoy himself.

On Thursday, Waley-Cohen had won the big hunter chase for the second year running on Katarino, and yesterday he became the first rider to add the John Smith's and Spar Topham Chase when Liberthine saw off 29 rivals, all ridden by professionals. That took his tally to three wins and two completions from five outings over the National fences.

In an attempt to protect inexperienced jockeys from their own intrepidity, the rules were amended in 1999 to prohibit anyone riding in the National without having ridden 15 winners over jumps. Nina Carberry made her eligibility plain with a win at the Cheltenham Festival last year, but she only just qualifies for the mount on Forest Gunner today with 16 winners.

It has already been officially intimated that the rule need not be "set in stone" and certainly Waley-Cohen would merit dispensation if Liberthine were to return here next year for the National itself. The mare is owned by his father, Robert, who declared: "She doesn't go anywhere without the jockey! He might not be qualified in time for next year's race. I'm sure they'll look at the rule. They're wise to keep out those who are too brave for their own good, but they have to find a way between doing that and letting in those who are capable."

Waley-Cohen Jnr was suitably elated after driving Liberthine home from Hakim, the favourite. "She was so brave, so bold," he said. "She never took her eye off the ball for a second." Nicky Henderson, the mare's trainer, saluted his riding. "He's gone the brave route," he said. "He's very cool."

McCoy meanwhile prepared for the ride on Clan Royal today by extending his private purgatory over these fences, becoming unseated at the 15th. The champion nonetheless left the track in buoyant spirits, having won on two of the most exciting young hurdlers in the land.

Black Jack Ketchum is already 5-2 favourite with the sponsor for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham next year after outclassing his rivals for the Citroen Sefton Novices' Hurdle. It was a wonderfully extrovert performance, McCoy taunting his rivals on the bridle until releasing his mount five lengths clear on the run-in. Though this race was over three miles, Black Jack Ketchum showed so much speed round this sharp circuit that he would surely be a valid contender for the Smurfit Champion Hurdle itself.

Perhaps McCoy would discourage any such project with Straw Bear shaping up so well over two miles. Nailed on the line at Cheltenham last month, Straw Bear finished the Imagine Appeal Novices' Hurdle in serene isolation after carting McCoy 13 lengths clear.

He is 12-1 for the Champion with William Hill and is an exciting spur to the young career of his trainer, Nick Gifford. "His jumping was still a bit novicey but when he gets slicker he might be a Champion Hurdle horse," he said.

McCoy in full cry had earlier just failed to collar one of the emerging stars of Irish racing when Andrew McNamara and Hi Cloy held off Fota Island in the Melling Chase. McNamara had also beaten McCoy and Fota Island at Cheltenham last month, on Newmill, but this time he reproached himself for being in front too soon.

So did Hi Cloy's trainer, Michael Hourigan, who was nonetheless pleased to restore morale after Beef Or Salmon unseated his rider on the opening day of the meeting. He will now try Hi Cloy over three miles at Punchestown, not least because Beef Or Salmon will be going back to basics. "He's only won once over hurdles and qualifies for a race at Fairyhouse, so we'll give him a pop," he said. "It'll give him a confidence boost - and me, too."

On a day when Cheltenham form held up like the Rock of Gibraltar, Star De Mohaison confirmed himself the season's leading staying novice in the Mildmay Chase. Still only five, he is 16-1 with the sponsor for the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup next year.

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Sport
Raheem Sterling of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Scandi crush: Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

Th Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn