Racing: Becher folly kills McCain's Account

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The Independent Online
THE GLORIOUS and the glum mix easily over the massive Aintree fences and so it was on Saturday. In a microcosm of April's Grand National, Earth Summit progressed so skillfully and courageously to victory it made spectators wonder what those who celebrate Flat racing get so excited about. If you could slice this 10-year-old open it must surely be that there are pistons and electrical circuits contained within the body, rather than flesh and blood.

Gore, however, was all that was noticeable about another contestant of the Becher Chase, Bold Account. There is no greater proponent for the devilish National than Donald McCain, his trainer, the man chiselled into the race's folklore via the triumphs of Red Rum.

Ginger handled the equine cat admirably, but his pronouncements on the National itself have not been so sage. He thinks the race tame these days because of the recent modifications. Bold Account, a plodding gelding, was not to know he was moderate, yet here he was plonked into Saturday's race in which he was a massive 42lb out of the handicap.

It was a frightening inclusion, especially as it came four days after the Aintree executive announced measures to make the world's most famous race safer. Liverpool may soon have mattresses on the landing sides as they seek to dilute the peril of the great race, and the steps announced this week were both profound and welcome.

One of the main planks was that horses with no ability would no longer jump the big ones, that a panel had been set up to sieve out the rotten. The board, unfortunately, will not sit in time for poor Bold Account. Ginger's machismo considered the horse up to this machismo task but he was proved sadly wrong, both for himself and the National itself. The eight-year-old made it to The Chair, but will never make it past another obstacle again. He fell there, a smashed shoulder condemning him to being put down.

There is a common line here for country folk who believe that townies should not go poking their little views into matters of the land. He died doing what he enjoyed, they say, that he was supremely looked after until his death. It is a sentiment disturbingly close to reporting that the prisoner ate a hearty breakfast before a day trip to the gallows.

A more admirable moment was the Ascot victory of The Toiseach, who may be a misspelling but is real as far as jumping goes.

James Fanshawe will decide this week if his runner goes for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday, and the signals yesterday were that the gelding would be in the line-up. "He will never be handicapped as well as this again with just a 4lb penalty, but we will have to see how he is," the Newmarket trainer said.

It was good to see Fanshawe win as he is among the most humble and small- hatted of men with a licence. He has recently enjoyed a staggering Flat season, supervising a Group One victory for Invermark and ending the turf campaign with a profit of pounds 68 to a pounds 1 stake on his runners.

n Martin Pipe yesterday confirmed that Murphy's Gold Cup winner Cyfor Malta will miss the Hennessy. Pipe said: "He will probably go for the Tripleprint at Cheltenham."