Well before they reached the Melling Road a couple of leading Grand National contenders fell by the wayside yesterday. As tradition dictates, some adventurous punters are already out of pocket before the tapes stagger skywards as the absentees are the gambled on Rince Ri and another prominent in the betting, Swansea Bay.
The Ted Walsh-trained Rince Ri was as short as 12-1 to emulate the stable's winner of the race in 2000, Papillon, while the Peter Bowen-trained Swansea Bay had been trading at 25-1.
"Rince Ri worked poorly," Walsh said yesterday. "He scoped badly and doesn't run."
The 11-year-old had attracted a steady stream of support for the National since chasing home Florida Pearl at Fairyhouse in January. He followed that with a second to Jair Du Cochet in the Pillar Chase.
Swansea Bay has been ruled out after a blood test taken on the gelding did not satisfy Bowen. He will instead be aimed at the Scottish National on 17 April. The trainer's wife, Karen, said: "It's gutting for everyone because he looked to be the perfect candidate. Let's hope we can get him ready in time for Ayr."
There was better news of the Aintree specialist Amberleigh House, who continued his preparation by pleasing in a gallop at Bangor racecourse on Saturday. The 12-year-old covered two miles and jumped three fences under Tony Dobbin as his Aintree pilot, Graham Lee, had earlier suffered a fall.
"I was absolutely delighted with him and so was Tony, who has ridden him in a Becher Chase," Ginger McCain, his trainer, said of the veteran who finished third to Monty's Pass in the race 12 months ago.
"Tony was impressed with the way the horse jumped and said he was spot on, but I think he just might come on a bit more by Saturday."
Nigel Twiston-Davies was another in bullish form and warned punters not to write off the chances of Bindaree. The National winner of 2002 landed the Welsh National at Christmas but was a distant sixth at Warwick in January. "Bindaree seems the forgotten horse in the betting and I can't understand why because I've never had him better," Twiston-Davies said.
"He came right back to his best at Chepstow, where he beat a high-class horse in Sir Rembrandt, but had a little hiccup at Warwick which I'm pleased to say he's over."
Bookmakers have trimmed Jurancon II's odds after reports that he could be Tony McCoy's mount. The Martin Pipe-trained Jurancon is now 12-1 from 16-1 with Coral. "If AP does ride, there's every chance Jurancon will be sent off as market leader," the firm's David Stevens said. William Hill have trimmed Jurancon to 12-1 from 14-1 and have cut Davids Lad to 20-1 from 25-1. Ladbrokes have seen support for the Jonjo O'Neill-trained Joss Naylor. He is now 16-1 from 25-1.
Brian Boru, last year's St Leger winner, opened his four-year-old campaign with victory in the Alleged Stakes at Leopardstown yesterday, but his jockey, Jamie Spencer, picked up a two-day suspension for careless riding as the 1-2 shot cut across the path of Napper Tandy in the home straight.
Spencer won the closing maiden race on the newcomer All Too Beautiful, a full-sister to the Derby winner Galileo, who is now a 20-1 shot for the Oaks.
GRAND NATIONAL (Aintree, Saturday): Ladbrokes: 10-1 Timbera, 11-1 Hedgehunter, 12-1 Bear On Board, Clan Royal, Jurancon II, 16-1 Amberleigh House, Davids Lad, Joss Naylor, Monty's Pass, Shardam, 20-1 Bindaree, 25-1 Gunner Welburn, Le Coudray, Lord Atterbury, Southern Star, Take The Stand, The Bushkeeper, 33-1 others. William Hill: 10-1 Hedgehunter, 11-1 Timbera, 12-1 Jurancon II, 14-1 Clan Royal, 16-1 Bear On Board, Shardam, 18-1 Amberleigh House, Joss Naylor, 20-1 Davids Lad, Monty's Pass, 25-1 Bindaree, Gunner Welburn, 33-1 others. Coral: 10-1 Timbera, Hedgehunter, 12-1 Jurancon II, 14-1 Clan Royal, 16-1 Bear On Board, Bindaree, First Gold, Joss Naylor, Monty's Pass, 20-1 Akarus, Amberleigh House, Davids Lad, Artic Jack, Lord Atterbury, Shardam, Southern Star, 25-1 others.Reuse content