Amos checks Lie of the land

Scottish stable emerges from freeze-up with plan to take measure of Big Buck's

If any southern softies think they were hard done by during the recent freeze, just don't let them whinge to Willie Amos about it. Yesterday, finally, his all-weather gallop, 1,000 feet up in the hills of Roxburghshire between Hawick and Langholm, lay black against the white and this morning horses will be on it for the first time this year.

"At one point the snow was up past my knees in the yard," he said. "And it was the strangest snow. It fell straight down and stayed in 18in-high columns on the fence posts.

"We were down to minus nine for a few days and, though we dug out the lanes, the main roads weren't open. But the wagons wouldn't start anyway, even with half a gallon of petrol in the diesel."

Amos spent yesterday afternoon harrowing his precious training strip, after a JCB had shifted the snow. His relief in getting his business back to some semblance of normality is chiefly on behalf of his Broadhaugh Farm stable star, Lie Forrit, bound for the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday week. Amos's intention is to test the mettle of the reigning long- distance champion Big Buck's in the three-miler, one of the significant preps for the Festival stayers' crown, the World Hurdle.

Lie Forrit has already proved himself one of this season's most improved performers; the only blemish on his record when, poised to win on his seasonal debut, he jinked and unseated his young rider Campbell Gillies. Since then, though, the pair have scored at Kempton and Newbury, effectively ruling out handicaps.

"Everyone seems to be running scared of Big Buck's," said Amos, "but he's just one horse. Nothing's looked him in the eye for a while, and if there's anything we do, it's stay all day and fight. We'll have a go, and see where we stand in that sort of company."

Lie Forrit's preparation for his step into the elite spotlight has, obviously, been less than straightforward. "We've had to box over to an indoor arena 15 miles away," Amos explained. "We'd go 30 times round each way, trotting and cantering, so we've kept an edge on them.

"Lie Forrit was fit before we had the snow, and still looks tremendous. But we won't know what we've lost until we get him out on the gallops and I'll really need to get three more bits of work into him before Cheltenham."

The six-year-old's progress has been a heart-warming boost for his small but perfectly effective yard. He was bought at auction as a foal for just £4,000 by his octogenarian owner John McNeill, a retired civil engineer. And when he won his first race, a bumper at Carlisle, he started at an unconsidered 100-1.

"We knew then we might have something," recalled Amos. "It wasn't just that he won. It was the way he cocked his lugs as he went past the post and was pulling up.

"At Carlisle, the turn away from the stands is sharp, so to the horses it looks as if they're running into the crowd, and it's a rare young one who has the confidence to prick his ears and go on.

"We always thought going three miles would play to his strengths, but we didn't expect him to progress quite this much.

"He has his quirks – he does tend to idle when he gets to the front – but he's genuine. And I wasn't surprised the way he came up the Cheltenham hill in November – the gallop here rises 310 feet from start to finish."

Lie Forrit could hardly have been given a more serendipitous name. It has nothing to do with untruths; it is a Scots dialect exhortation used to encourage rugby scrums. Push forward. Which is just what he and those around him are doing.

Turf account: Sue Montgomery


Jan Mayen (4.20 Wolverhampton)

Shaped with conspicuous promise on her belated debut and should get off the mark for a yard with a fine record in this type of contest.

Next best

Black Annie (4.10 Folkestone)

From the family of Silver Birch and Alexander Banquet and her stout breeding should serve her well on her step up in trip, particularly in today's conditions.

One to watch

Novice hurdler Ashleys Lad (N J Gifford) was best of the rest behind two useful, more experienced, types at Kempton on Saturday and should be on a workable mark when he starts his career in handicaps.

Where the money's going

Carthalawan, runner-up to Go Native in October, is 8-1 favourite in with Paddy Power's market for the weekend's betting feature, the MCR Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Chris McGrath's nap

Chiff Chaff (1.40 Folkestone)

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little