Racing: First Gold to carry heavy burden of Doumen dream

Grand National weights: Irish raiders lead the betting for Aintree showpiece as handicapper comes in for criticism from aggrieved trainers

The one job you did not want yesterday was to be the handicapper at the official launching of the Grand National weights, to be the single source of cataclysmic information over the smoked salmon and lamb loin at the Landmark Hotel on London's Marylebone Road.

It was hard-hat territory once again for Phil Smith in NW1, and most of the trainers bussed in from Britain, Ireland and France had few kind words for the former teacher over the Martell which will be splashed over the National for the last time on 3 April. Smith, and this is an annual cry, must try harder, according to the majority directly involved in the Aintree marathon.

First the facts. Monty's Pass and Bindaree, the last two National winners, are back for another fix. The top weight is the classy First Gold, but his participation will be moulded by the 11-year-old's performance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. As there is only two weeks and two days between the Blue Riband and Aintree this year, it appears First Gold will have to win in the Cotswolds pulling a laden beer dray to become even a consideration for the big double.

"I think the way he runs in the Gold Cup will give me an idea,'' François Doumen, the Chantilly trainer, said yesterday. Doumen still harbours the dream, however, the one achieved by Tommy and Paul Carberry with Bobbyjo in 1999 and Ted and Ruby Walsh with Papillon in 2000. It may be that the less vaunted Kelami, off 10st 4lb, is the vehicle, however. "They won with a father and son and that would be my dream," Doumen added.

It is not unreasonable to assume the National trophy will, once again, be fit for transport. After a long barren run the Irish are certainly on a roll, having won three of the last five runnings. The ante-post lists suggest the trend is going to continue with the Hibernian grouping of Hedgehunter, Rince Ri, Davids Lad and Monty's Pass, the victor 12 months ago, at the summit of the betting.

Monty's Pass will be involved in a different game a year on. This time he will have 11st 7lb to hump. "I thought I would be a bit lighter,'' Jimmy Mangan, the lightly stunned trainer, said. "It's a big weight against class horses. I'm a bit close to those at the top [First Gold and Rince Ri]. But the main thing is to get there in good form. He is in great form and he'll be having a run [over hurdles] in a few weeks."

The bearded wonder of Mike Futter, Monty's Pass's main owner, collected an estimated near £1m in various National bets last year and is setting about another killing in April. On this occasion, though, he favours other horses. The early bets are £5,000 each-way on Be My Manager and £10,000 each-way on Hedgehunter. "Horses don't win the National carrying weights of more than 11st unless they are Red Rum,'' Futter said.

Then there was the combative stuff, Ginger McCain, who has variously referred to the handicapper as a mad bastard or a bollocks on such occasions, was actually fairly restrained yesterday. He said Amberleigh House would win, but we have grown to be wary of such pronouncements post Red Rum. The proper fiery stuff came from Nigel Twiston-Davies and, unsurprisingly, Harvey Smith. The latter was not there, fortunately for his handicapping namesake. Twiston-Davies would have retired two years ago if Bindaree had not been successful. He now believes Smith should carry through a similar threat. "A weight of 11st is very high for Bindaree,'' the Naunton trainer said. "The handicapper is a lunatic."

Harvey agreed. "Artic Jack [on 11st 4lb] has been weighted out of the job," he said. "Nothing above 11st can win the National and they weight the good horses out. He's put our horse in 8lb behind First Gold, well what a load of rubbish. He's out of order.

"With 11st 4lb you'd be better off taking on the Gold Cup horses on levels. Over four and a half miles in heavy ground, weight counts double. I would say Artic Jack won't run because he can't win it with 11st 4lb. If Ardent Scout's in on 10st he'll nearly win it. He'll have another couple of runs before the National and he'll be in flying order."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory