Racing: Suny Bay heads the National assembly
Wednesday 11 February 1998
In the salubrious setting of The Dorchester in Park Lane yesterday, weights were allotted to the enormous number of entries for the Grand National. The great congregation of spectators for the race itself on 4 April, however, will be gaining access to a somewhat scruffier Aintree.
Racegoers will pass through an airport-style archway and subject themselves to body-searches (all promising ante-post vouchers will probably be confiscated). The expected 6,000 cars that trundle to the course will have to be pre- booked and all will also be subjected to scanning with machinery that the police tell us hi-tech (apparently it's better than that old stuff they used to use).
The topweight this year is likely to be Suny Bay, if the Hennessy Gold Cup winner recovers from the malaise currently ailing him and his confederates at Uplands. The grey has pulled a muscle in his hind quarters, but is expected to start cantering next week.
His options include the Greenalls Gold Cup at Haydock (which he won 12 months ago), the Gold Cup and the National. "We'd be very unlucky if things were bad enough that we could not run in two of those those three races," Brooks said.
If last year's runner-up does manage to incorporate Newton-le-Willows into his programme he may meet Belmont King, Paul Nicholls's Scottish Grand National winner. It is something of a shame that the Somerset trainer has not entered another of his equine staff, Ottowa, who would have been a great selection for your Canadian on the day, but the trainer nevertheless has four entries.
Nicholls is a man worth considering as the National encapsulates his sole interest among animals in training. He has prepared more steeplechase winners than anyone this campaign.
"Belmont King is our main hope," Nicholls said. "He has been trained solely for the race and will run in the Greenalls and then the National. He was in the process of running his best for race for us when he fell in the Hennessy. You can ignore his run in the Welsh National as he came back coughing.''
Nicholls, it appears, will also provide the Tricast combinations. "I was very pleased with Court Melody's run at Sandown on Saturday. He was second over the National fences in the Becher Chase earlier in the season. General Crack could go well if the ground was fast.''
Of Rough Quest, one of the favourites, trainer Terry Casey said: "He'll go straight to the Gold Cup first and though that might be a bit beyond him at his age now, he will run a lot better than he's been running. He's at his best in the Spring.
"I rode him on Sunday morning and he felt super. Before I left him today he looked fantastic, in fact he's never looked better."
Gordon Richards has nine horses in the contest yet could not bring himself to savour the warm smoked-haddock and asparagus tart yesterday at the sumptuous weights lunch. Cup-a-soup serves a better purpose in the frozen north.
The Boss has yet to tell us what the Greystoke squad will be. "It's very difficult to say at this stage with Cheltenham still to come," Richards said. "I want to get Addington Boy, and The Grey Monk, to the Gold Cup.
"But if a week beforehand I thought The Grey Monk wasn't quite right and if he had cut in the ground in the National he could be the one. He's had a very light time and he would relish the trip. A lot depends on the ground. "McGregor The Third might take his chance if the ground was fast. Buckboard Bounce was fourth last year and he could be the one but he disappointed me last time out.''
Nigel Twiston-Davies was pleased by Young Hustler's light weight, though the old horse is hardly living up to his name these days. He is in a more fighting mood about his other runner, Earth Summit. "They've both got fair weights," he said. "Young Hustler is usually among the topweights. Earth Summit is in good nick and will run in the Greenalls before going for the National.''
Martin Pipe described Cyborgo and Challenger Du Luc as his "two serious ones" among nine entries from his stable, but both head to the Gold Cup first. "It could be just Challenger's sort of race," Pipe said.
Oliver Sherwood said: "Him Of Praise has had only nine runs under Rules and is very inexperienced. But he might never have a weight like that again."
Latest in Sport
Pornhub: Cheeky Liverpool fan uploads Philippe Coutinho wonder-goal video to adult website
Diego Costa keeps coin thrown at him during Capital One Cup final
Lukas Podolski corner: Has the Arsenal forward taken the worst corner of all time?
Tim Sherwood: 'Escape the drop and I’ll make sure Aston Villa do not suffer this again'
Ireland 19 England 9 player ratings: Jonathan Sexton? Devin Toner? Alex Goode? Who was the star man in Dublin?
- 1 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
this is an unpaid voluntary position: Circles South East Youth Service: LOOKIN...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading privately owned sp...
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is require...
£24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest supplier to the UK'...