Racing: McManus has Far From Trouble fit for the fray

With each passing year, the race that can most legitimately be described as an institution seems increasingly likely to drive Tony McCoy into one. Just as the Derby torments Frankie Dettori, so the Grand National remains a source of growing exasperation for the most prolific jump jockey in history. But yesterday something happened that entitles McCoy to hope he will exorcise his Aintree curse, sooner rather than later.

Certainly the significance of Far From Trouble's success in a little race over hurdles at Down Royal yesterday was not lost on the bookmakers. Coral cut his odds for the National, sponsored again by John Smith's, from 20-1 to 14-1, meaning that he is now viewed as one of the four best candidates for the race. The last two winners, Numbersixvalverde and Hedgehunter, share 12-1 favouritism, with Dun Doire also on 14-1. As will be seen, however, it is not that simple for punters.

This was Far From Trouble's first start since winning the Galway Plate last August and McCoy, who had been due to ride at frozen Ludlow, had left the mount to Alan Crowe. Yet while his true métier is jumping fences on much faster ground, the horse remains so progressive that he was able to administer a convincing defeat to the odds-on Powerstation.

Far From Trouble is owned by JP McManus, who retains McCoy and has himself long hankered after a first success in the National. Two years ago the pair were aghast when Clan Royal, still tanking along in the lead, was carried out by loose horses at Becher's second time round. Clan Royal ran a fine third last year, but he is now 12 and McCoy will surely be tempted to desert him for the younger horse.

First, however, he must be given the choice - and Christy Roche, Far From Trouble's trainer, counselled against anyone backing his horse at this stage. "When we discussed it last, and I asked JP will I stick the horse in the National, he said that I could enter him but that he felt he lacked experience for Aintree this year," Roche explained. "He felt it might take another year before he was ready for the National. And when JP has those kind of ideas he's never too far wrong. So I have to overcome that obstacle if he is to run. Whenever I have done that, JP has nearly always been proved right."

Of course, it may turn out that Far From Trouble will be so irresistibly handicapped that McManus will find it difficult not to run in April. The chances are that he will be rated far higher this time next year. For now, however, the uncertainty should not disguise an imperative for any punter with red blood in his veins. For this horse has all the makings of one of the bets of the season when he runs at Cheltenham, probably in the William Hill Chase. Several weeks ago McManus intimated that one of the Festival handicaps would be a natural priority for Far From Trouble, and his wily trainer is certain to have him ready to run for his life.

"Down the road, if he stays in one piece, you'd love to think he could go to Aintree, but Cheltenham is in our mind this year," Roche admitted. "He's beautifully balanced, the perfect model of a horse, with a very good pedigree. The only thing that restricts him is that he doesn't like heavy ground."

It may take a National win for Far From Trouble to surpass Brave Inca in McCoy's affections. But he may not be able to ride the champion hurdler at Cheltenham, with McManus likely to claim him for Straw Bear. Ruby Walsh may yet be required by Paul Nicholls for Desert Quest, which would leave Colm Murphy needing a new rider - an unwelcome change from having the choice between two of the great jockeys.

"I haven't approached anyone and I don't plan to until a few days before the race, if it still looks as though they will both be tied up," the trainer said. He added that he has not ruled out trying Brave Inca in a blinkers at home before the Festival.

Another Irish champion at Cheltenham last year, Newmill, is likely to go straight to the Queen Mother Champion Chase despite falling in his first steeplechase this season at Punchestown last Sunday. John Murphy, his trainer, said yesterday that he would enter him for a race over two and a half miles at Naas on 25 February, but that there was only "a slight possibility" that he would run.

The Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse the previous day is the new target for one of the rising stars of Irish chasing after In Compliance failed to please his trainer. Michael O'Brien will instead run Forget The Past - who seems to have exposed a lack of fitness in his stablemate in their workout yesterday - against The Listener and Beef Or Salmon in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Saturday.

* Today's Huntingdon card is abandoned due to frost.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Gustavo

(Taunton 3.50)

NB: Rockys Girl

(Taunton 4.50)

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
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

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there