War of Attrition ready for Grand send-off

2006 Gold Cup hero back to winning ways ahead of a farewell tilt at Aintree

Nobody can doubt that the best thing about this business is the horses, and certainly not anyone at Gowran Park yesterday. The conditions were filthy, with a hard, incessant rain falling from a cold, lowering sky. But the sight of an old brown gelding trotting back through the wet towards the winners' circle with what was easy to read as pride in his springy steps warmed every heart at the Co Kilkenny track. War Of Attrition, the 2006 Gold Cup hero, had just rolled back the years in the twilight of his most honourable career.

The gallant warrior is, at the age of 11, just two races away from retirement. And, as befits a star, he may yet go out on one of the glittering stages; his finale will be the Grand National.

His latest success, his 13th, came in the three-mile Galmoy Hurdle, and was a reminder of just how classy he once was over the smaller obstacles. He did, after all, beat all bar Brave Inca in the Supreme Novices' six years ago.

With the aid of cheekpieces for the first time, War Of Attrition jumped with all his youthful, ears-pricked elan for Slippers Madden throughout the Grade Two three-miler and left the smart Powerstation, third in last season's World Hurdle, toiling four lengths in his wake for his first victory for 14 months.

"I'd say I haven't had so much pleasure on a racetrack since he won his Gold Cup," said his trainer, Mouse Morris. "We've had some downers with him over the years but there was a real sparkle in him today. He's just a thoroughly nice horse to have on the place, a real pet in the yard."

War Of Attrition, the best horse to have carried the colours of Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud, has had ongoing physical problems; he was sidelined by leg trouble in his prime and off the track for nearly two years. But though he was never as good after his rehabilitation, and some looked askance at his remaining in training, the canny Morris has long eyed Aintree as a target.

War Of Attrition was fancied for last year's National, backed to 12-1 before more niggles ruled him out, and has been introduced at around 25-1 for this year's marathon. "I'm sure he'd be competitive," said Morris, "and we'll keep tipping away with him towards Aintree and, if he runs, he'll be retired afterwards."

The veteran could make one last fairy-tale visit to the Cheltenham Festival; his National prep may come in the World Hurdle, for which he was one of 35 entries yesterday.

There was another nod to past glory at Gowran when Whinstone Boy landed a huge gamble to take the afternoon's feature, the Thyestes Chase. The three-miler has been won by the subsequent Grand National winners Hedgehunter and Numbersixvalverde in the past and yesterday's winner, backed from 14-1 to 5-1 during the morning, is trained by Jimmy Mangan, who sent out Monty's Pass to take the Aintree showpiece seven years ago.

Whinstone Boy, ridden by Sean Flanagan, is owned by three of the Monty's Pass syndicate from Northern Ireland. "I'd love to run him in the National," said Mangan of the nine-year-old. "He'll have an entry and if he doesn't get in this year, he'll go for the Topham, as the lads love Liverpool."

Timmy Murphy, winner of the National two years ago on Comply Or Die, became the ninth jump jockey to notch 1,000 winners in Britain when he reached the round-figure milestone on Ghizao and Wizard Of Edge at Taunton.

Turf account: Sue Montgomery

Nap

Brackenmoss (Catterick 1.50) Suited by a soft surface, is still relatively unexposed and her yard is in tremendous form.

Next Best

Jim Tango (3.30 Catterick) Seemed revitalised last time by the application of blinkers and can make it two for two at today's track.

One To Watch

Marchand D'Argent (P J Hobbs) was well beaten after running fresh on his seasonal comeback at Kempton, but was progressive last spring and will be seen in a better light next time, particularly on better ground.

Where The Money's Going

William Buick is 25-1 with SkyBet for the Flat jockeys' championship after the news of his replacement of Jimmy Fortune as John Gosden's No 1, with Ryan Moore 2-5 favourite for his fourth title.

Chris McGrath's Nap

Prince Charlemagne (4.15 Lingfield).

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
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'