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."

Voices
A Siberian Tiger
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
scienceBumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, it is claimed
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + ents
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

M&E Construction Planner Solihull

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Car, Healthcare, Pensions: Progressive Recruitment...

Senior Java Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Leading Sof...

Chemistry Teacher

£90 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are looking fo...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried