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)

Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Morrissey pictured in 2013
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
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

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel