Britain's newest flying grey will be airborne today after a temporary grounding. Morceli will after all run in the First National Bank Gold Cup at Ascot after an injury to Adrian Maguire, his original booked jockey, had threatened his participation.
Howard Johnson, Morceli's trainer, had contemplated withdrawing his charge following Maguire's fall yesterday at the Berkshire track which snapped a bone in his ankle. Last night, however, he decided the seven-year-old should take his chance in the hands of Warren Marston.
Maguire was scrubbed from calculations after he was transported to Slough's Wexham Park Hospital wearing a neck brace. Following X-rays to his neck and ankle, the fracture was discovered.
The Irishman was injured when Hatcham Boy went down on the final bend of a novice hurdle. His fall also arrested the journeys of Jimmy's Cross and Crane Hill, but while their jockeys were soon upright, Maguire remained down, communicating more in groans than words.
The reaction of David Nicholson, Hatcham Boy's trainer, was also hard to understand. On learning that his yard's retained rider would be unavailable for the rest of the day he withdrew his remaining runners, Putty Road and Martin's Lamp. "I have no jockey so I don't run," Nicholson said, ignoring possible replacements such as Richard Dunwoody, Jamie Osborne and David Bridgwater, second in the riders' championship. Johnson later imitated this loyalty.
Morceli's participation will maintain the race as a contest of great merit. Ascot's feature event will include three horses who beat the grey home in the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Foremost of Morceli's challengers is Sound Man, the Prestbury Park runner-up, whose conqueror, his fellow Irish runner Klairon Davis, won impressively at Tipperary on Thursday.
Edward O'Grady's seven-year-old has won twice at Navan this season in races he rendered as competitive as a hiker's boot against ants. His trainer has already made noises about coming back to Britain for an assault on the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, yet Sound Man (1.55) has shown he has not lost the speed of last season. The weights suggest otherwise, but he should have the measure of Camitrov on this ground.
At Aintree, jockeys get the rare opportunity to disturb as much fir and spruce as a Canadian logging team when the Grand National fences come into play for the Becher Chase.
The simple analysis here would be that Young Hustler must win as he is the only horse in the handicap proper but that would mean tossing all other relevant information into the trough. The top weight has begun to rival Pete Best as the unluckiest figure on Merseyside, being brought down by a loose horse in the 1994 National and having Carl Llewellyn slide from his back 12 months later.
Ranged against him are horses who have proved they can negotiate these Himalayas: Into The Red and Feathered Gale were first and second in this race last year, while Over The Deel was third in the National itself. Backers should go for a horse who performs on this course and represents the gamblers' inevitable zone. INTO THE RED (nap 1.35) should win.Reuse content