Racing: Reid and Bradley injured

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The Independent Online
FAIRYHOUSE HAS always sounded a rather dilettante location for a race of dread which the British have never appropriated easily. So it was yet again in the Irish Grand National yesterday when the travellers were swept away as the home combatants fought out a compelling finish.

Glebe Lad was the animal to lead the parade home, fending off the well- timed challenge of Feathered Leader to collect the contest on a third occasion for his trainer, Michael O'Brien. The other man on the podium was the jockey, Tom Rudd.

"I had a lovely run all the way," the rider reported. "He pinged the third last and we were probably in front a bit too soon, but once he was challenged at the last he picked up on landing and went away for me."

O'Brien, wheelchair-bound, witnessed developments from his home, which at least ensured he got more of the action than those at the Co Meath track. There were Norman Collier-type interruptions to both the course commentary and large screen transmission from repeated power failures.

Manus The Man, like Glebe Lad one of five 8-1 co-favourites, finished third, and Risk Of Thunder was shaken and stirred into fourth place for his owner, Sean Connery.

The limping British were represented best by Full Of Oats, who came home seventh, two places in front of Druid's Brook. Celtic Giant, the Fulke Walwyn/Kim Muir Chase winner from the Cheltenham Festival, was rather less huge in this company, while Rightsaidfred actually headed the field for several glorious strides but came to earth three fences out. His jockey, Graham Bradley, was taken to Blanchardstown Hospital with a suspected fractured collar-bone and associated shoulder injury.

There was damage done too at Kempton where John Reid broke his right leg in a fall from Dower House in the Magnolia Stakes. The chestnut colt had travelled just two furlongs when a stirrup-iron on his equipment broke. "John has definitely broken his leg and is still in casualty [at Ashford Hospital] waiting to see a registrar," Joy, the jockey's wife, said. "Being a Bank Holiday, the hospital is very busy and it is a very stressful time. He didn't lose consciousness but he is in a lot of pain."

Jimmy Fortune will remember the meeting more fondly for the way he broke his duck for Paul Cole's stable. Fortune, who has a second retainer for the Whatcombe yard supporting his contract with Robert Sangster, won the valuable Rosebery Stakes on Carry The Flag. Bravery favoured Fortune as he kicked on with two furlongs to go, poaching enough ground to help him stave off the flourish of the old man of the field, Rokeby Bowl.

Back in third was Monsajem, who had been due to be partnered by Reid. He instead was the mount of Olivier Peslier, who later paid for his duty frees with a double initiated by Passion For Life. The gelding made all and repelled 22 rivals in the sprint handicap before Frippet, an Oaks entry, made a winning debut in French hands.

A large field is also guaranteed for Saturday's Grand National, though it will be by no means a record herd thundering across the Aintree plain. A total of 36 were confirmed yesterday and, while none of the leading fancies were taken out, there were some notable names struck from the list.

Rough Quest, the 1996 winner of the race, will be absent, as will be the ever-popular (as every grey seems to to labelled) Senor El Betrutti. "He's okay but he won't be in the National this year," Terry Casey, the former's trainer, revealed. "But he will definitely run at Liverpool. He is in both the Foxhunters' and John Hughes Chase. He's also in the Whitbread."

The Senor may also be seen on Merseyside. "It [the ground] is just not going to come right in time for him to run in the National," Susan Nock, the gelding's trainer, said. "I'm a bit disappointed as he looked to have a good weight, but to run him would be a waste of a race. He is still in on Thursday [for the Martell Cup] and I just hope that the ground dries out on the Mildmay course."

If the going does not dry up considerably then Avro Anson will also be an absentee. The 11-year-old was sixth in the National in 1997 but defected from last season's race because of the soft going. Considering the weather forecast, his connections may have to take a similar course of action this year.

The jump jockey Guy Upton, 32, announced his retirement at Wincanton yesterday. "I've yet to tell my other half, Sophie [Mitchell], who is riding at Market Rasen," Upton said. "I've had 16 enjoyable years, riding over 200 winners. Memberson was the best I've ridden."