Racing: Avro Anson an Aintree high flier

John Cobb talks to a trainer with a calm approach to the Grand National

Being sane and sober might seem unlikely credentials to carry into the Grand National - particularly for punters - but Avro Anson will at Aintree next week because his trainer planned it that way even before the horse's birth.

Maurice Camacho has not only trained Avro Anson throughout his seven- year racing career, he bred him too. And when picking a partner for the gelding's dam, the hot-headed sprinting mare Tremellick, it was a calming influence that was deemed to be crucial.

"I was taken to see Ardross, the Ascot Gold Cup winner, in his box at stud," Camacho recalls. "Franca Vittadini [the former amateur rider] had care of him and she just got up on him, a working stallion, in his box. It was remarkable. I've never seen a stallion so calm. She was able to lead him out in just a head-collar.

"I said to myself then 'I've got a mate for you'. You've got to have them sane and sober to start with."

The long-term planning might be ready to pay off at Aintree, but it has not always been smooth progress along the path to the great steeplechase. Avro Anson, a top-class staying hurdler, provided Camacho with the greatest thrill but also the greatest disappointment of his career when veering off a straight line and being disqualified from first place in the Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival three years ago.

"My stepfather [the trainer Charlie Hall] told me when I started as his assistant that if I couldn't face adversity then I was to get out. Well, I've been in this game for a long time now, but I was damned disappointed all the same."

Camacho, 52 has indeed been in the business for some time, having taken out a training licence at his stables at Malton, North Yorkshire, 22 years ago. First, though, his stepfather "sent me to Timeform'', where he did four years as a comment writer for that respected firm's publications, witnessing the exploits of such great chasers as Arkle, Flyingbolt and Mill House.

A colleague at the Halifax-based firm, Brian Skirton, defected to the other side, setting up a small chain of bookmakers in Cornwall, but pledging also to have a horse in training with Camacho.

"He describes it as the worst thing he ever did," Camacho said yesterday, "but he's always had at least one horse with me and Avro Anson is one of them.

"I've always told Brian that this will be a really good horse when he matures, but he keeps asking me 'when is he going to mature then?' Well it's taken until he's nine but this is his time and we'll have him while he's 10, 11, 12, to show him at his best

"He's been a big, gawky horse with a large frame and he's only just started to fill it. But he's a hell of a lot stronger than last year. Now he really fills your eye. He's a very handsome horse."

Despite only now reaching maturity, Avro Anson, who has been in training with Camacho since his two-year-old days, has won on the Flat, over hurdles and now over fences - picking up over pounds 100,000 over obstacles.

"He lacks experience - not racing, but chasing," Camacho said. "He's had just six races over fences, but the only time he's been out of the first two was when he parted company with Peter Niven last time. But he's been over the big fences at Haydock and round the Mildmay course at Aintree, which is a very quick track, and his jumping is not a problem.

"I had his brothers and sisters and none of them needed much work so I'm not worried that he's had just the two outings this year. I've trained him for this time of the year and I don't think I've ever had him in better form."

The rain which fell at Aintree yesterday has still left the ground no softer than good, which suits Camacho and Avro Anson. "I'll be a happy man if it stays dry between now and Saturday week," Camacho said. "But it's old turf, it never gets very wet, very poached.

"I'll be even happier if Mr [Kim] Bailey leaves in the top weight, Master Oats, to keep the weights down. Then we'll be meeting some of these good horses at just about level weights instead of having to give them a few pounds."

Skirton, now semi-retired as a bookmaker, has a passion for old aeroplanes, hence the name Avro Anson. Grand National day is usually one when the bookies can cheer en masse, whatever the result, but this year there will be one set apart from his colleagues. His hopes are more than just a flight of fancy.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower