Ballabriggs clears small obstacle on the way to Aintree for McCain

It tells you everything about the way his career is going that winning a race with the John Smith's Grand National favourite at Ayr yesterday was just a prelude to the main business of the week for Donald McCain. Ballabriggs, after all, was essentially just keeping out of trouble as he won his second novice hurdle of the campaign, pending a return to fences after the publication of the Aintree weights a fortnight today. And his flourishing trainer has a rather more earnest assignment in mind for the unbeaten Peddlers Cross, who warms up for the Stan James Champion Hurdle on Saturday.

McCain had hoped to give Peddlers Cross his final rehearsal at Haydock 10 days ago, but was thwarted by frost and must now choose between the William Hill Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las and the Totesport Contenders Hurdle at Sandown. Both races were reopened yesterday, but McCain knows that Nicky Henderson will be on his case wherever he ends up – with Binocular heading to Sandown, and Oscar Whisky to Ffos Las. Peddlers Cross beat the reigning champion on their reappearance at Newbury in November, but Binocular has since produced a much more aggressive exhibition at Kempton. Oscar Whisky graduated from novice company with an impressive performance at Cheltenham on New Year's Day.

Ballabriggs certainly looks an interesting Aintree candidate. Yesterday presented a very different challenge, but it can only augur well that he should have been able to see off younger rivals under a penalty on lively ground. Always going with gusto, he was ridden out to win by five lengths and is now clear favourite for the National at 16-1 from 20-1 with Paddy Power. The way he tired up the hill when winning the Kim Muir Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last March does permit some doubt about his stamina, but he set a punishing tempo that day and his all-round dynamism will surely be an asset round Aintree. McCain intends to return him to fences on 5 March, either in a valuable handicap at Doncaster or a conditions race at Kelso.

Nicky Richards' success with Premier Sagas in the novice chase was by no means the first sign that the trainer is turning the corner. This horse carries the silks made famous by Monet's Garden, who is reported by their owner to be responding positively to treatment for a life-threatening hoof infection. David Wesley Yates is increasingly optimistic that the cherished grey could yet enjoy a long retirement.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Valley View (4.40 Folkestone)

Point-to-point winner who makes his chasing debut under Rules in a handicap, off a rating acquired with three spins over hurdles on softer ground.

Next best

Tenor Nivernais (3.50 Taunton)

French import who has been given every chance by the handicapper.

One to watch

Somewhatinevitable (Paul Webber) attracted support for a novice hurdle at Huntingdon last week and hinted why as he made up good ground from the rear until hitting two out.

Where the money's going

Solix is 10-1 from 16-1 with the sponsors for the Totesport Gold Trophy at Newbury on Saturday week.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk