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Lenient weight for Aintree fancy Tidal Bay angers National rivals

However conscientiously they strive to improve the odds in terms of safety at Aintree – a greater imperative than ever, after trauma and tragedy in each of the past two years – the one thing they will never provide is a level playing field. Even so, some felt that the dice had been unfairly loaded in favour of one horse in particular when the weights for the John Smith's Grand National were published.

Bog Warrior to test depths of endurance

After Ayr managed to stage jumping today, hopes are rising that the big card scheduled for Cheltenham on Saturday may not have to be postponed, after all. In the meantime, some instructive sport is promised at Gowran tomorrow.

Henderson wants to try hair of staying dog with Whisky

The loss of Cheltenham today was rued not only by thousands who had relied on the meeting for their customary New Year's Day hangover cure, but also by those seeking a remedy for Oscar Whisky. Nicky Henderson had hoped to give the horse another run over the intermediate distance of two and a half miles, but instead ended up parading him to Channel 4 viewers in a live broadcast from his stables. And the trainer disclosed that waterlogging at Cheltenham had now forced his hand, in the ongoing debate over Oscar Whisky's eligibility for big races over two miles or three.

Strong Suit's stable takes £11,000 punt on July Cup and the weather

Even before her scare at Ascot, Black Caviar's trainer had taken one look at the undulations of the July Course and abandoned any notion of sticking around for the Darley July Cup. Moonlight Cloud, who so nearly ruined the Australian champion's perfect record, is also safely out of the way, back in France. There is a tempting Group One opportunity, then, at Newmarket on Saturday – and two new hats were duly thrown into the ring yesterday.

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Derby deal delights as Mullins masters muddy Punchestown

The barometer may be set fair for its most venerable prize, given a spectacular vote of confidence from the sponsors of the Derby yesterday, but otherwise the Turf seemed to lie in a soggy, midwinter time-warp. The steeplechases scheduled at Punchestown were abandoned, and the remaining hurdle and bumper races run in conditions bordering on the farcical. An inspection will be required this morning to pass the course for a card that features the outstanding mare, Quevega.

Champion Hanagan lands Hamdan post

The theory that the jockeys' championship is nowadays a brute measure of stamina and consistency, rather than a proof of essential class, has this week been roundly rejected by the Maktoum family. On Tuesday, they hired Silvestre De Sousa to ride for Godolphin; and yesterday Sheikh Hamdan filled his impending vacancy, as retained jockey, with the only man to top De Sousa in last year's standings. For Paul Hanagan, the appointment is a gratifying breakthrough even after consecutive titles in 2010 and 2011, which had seemed to consummate long, uncomplaining service away from the big stage.