Tanya's Blog - April 2014

Posted in 2014 Posts; Posted 4 years ago

Read the next installment of Tanya Stevenson's blog, starting with a look at Doncaster. 

The Flat Is Back…

Great to see some of you at Doncaster on Saturday, fabulous weather so I hope you didn’t spend all your time in the luxurious hospitality box.  If you missed out, make sure you are quick on the uptake on the remaining opportunities throughout the year.

Michael Portillo’s Great British Railways have nothing on me at present as it was a convoluted journey to Doncaster.  Starting near Lingfield racecourse, via Manchester and finally across to Town Moor.  It was worth it with the resurgence continuing in the Doncaster betting ring.  At times punters were standing twenty deep to try and get their bets on with the boys and girls on course.  Also refreshing was the disparity in the prices, not so was the lack of ¼ the odds in the Spring Mile and Lincoln, hopefully that will come.   Only a few horses caught the eye at Town Moor on Saturday, Brae Hill who was superb on his favourite day, Farlow was a massive drifter in the betting right near the off yet defied that with his fourth in the Spring Mile and Off Art who on only his fifth racecourse appearance claimed fifth in the Lincoln.  However what about Gordon Lord Byron’s wonderful achievement in Australia, can’t wait to see him back inEurope.


Foreign Raiders…

Meantime while others focused on Un De Sceaux at Auteuil all the action at Saint-Cloud went ashamedly unnoticed put in your notebooks the names Daraybi trained by Alain de Royer Dupre andBawina who could both develop into Classic contenders across the Channel or could even be sighted at Royal Ascot. In Spain Noozhoh Canarias won in Madrid and is still an insulting price for the 2000Guineas. 


Reminiscing About The National…

And so to the Crabbies Grand National, a race solely responsibly for bringing many of us to the sport.  Many reminisce on how they backed the winner, or the first race they watched was the Aintree spectacular.  For me though it’s slightly different, the first meeting I attended would have been Royal Ascot in 1973, yes 73!  Then the Epsom Derby on a Wednesday in 1976 well before the delights of the M25 and it took almost half a day to get there just from Southend!  There were plenty of visits to Folkestone, Fontwell, Plumpton, Goodwood and York in between and I wasn’t christened with Aintree until 1977 so it’s pretty easy to understand how I became hooked.  I attended every Aintree meeting from 1977 through to 2002, clerking for a bookmaker from 1985 to 2002.  The place had become my home. Red Rum a legend, the race that never was won by Esha Ness and having the car impounded with Lord Gyllene winning on the Monday.  Our pitch was not far from The Chair, giving a superb head on view of the elbow as the finishers came thundering past to a heroes welcome. 

An emotional return in 2013 and to cover the betting alongside Brian Gleeson.  It felt surreal everything was hard to take in.  Part of me wishing I was working on a pitch again stood amongst all the betting action hard against the rails bookmakers was the perfect substitute.  I digress; you don’t need to read my ramblings when there is the important business of finding the Grand National winner.  Ironic though I’ve spent quite a bit of my life laying the runners in the great race praying for the empty column or least backed, without ever thinking or being asked who I’d think would win, instead concentrating on those which I thought couldn’t. 


And Trying To Find The Winner!...

With all the modifications to the course many believe honing in on the victor should be easier, yet Aurora’s Encore won last year at 66-1!  Some of the stats worth considering include Nicky Henderson has never won the Grand National, and 8 of the last 11 winners had run over hurdles at some time that season – heads up Pineau De Resupporters who has been chopping and changing culminating in his third in the Pertemps Final.  But oh dear, eight of the last ten winners bypassed the Cheltenham Festival.  19 of the last 20 winners have been aged 9 or older, there has been no Irish winner for six years, yet they have won the race seven times in the last 15 years.  Ballabriggsis the only winner in the last 15 years to have won more than once that season.  As for course form, five of the last ten winners had run in the race the previous season and seven of the last twelve winners had run over the big spruce fences, these are more stats have been gleaned from my workings and the brilliant Aintree & Punchestown Betting Guide. 

My shortlist includes Teaforthree who is just a superb jumper and surely will be hard to keep out of the frame after highlighting his appreciation of the big fences in 2013.  Chance Du Roy a winner of the Becher Chase and he was runner-up in the 2012 Topham, the trip may be his downfall yet I think he’ll get round and finally how aboutAlvarado?  He defeated Monbeg Dude and Burton Port at Cheltenham and for a quirky fact his owners William & Angela Rucker have had a horse finish in the first four in each of the last five years, courtesy ofState Of Play and Cappa Bleu


Elsewhere On The Card At Aintree…

As for other possible suggestions on the card Wilde Blue Yonder may wait until Saturday’s Mersey Novices’ Hurdle and he ran a blinder when fifth in the Supreme Novice Hurdle, completing the course would have done his confidence no end of good and seven of the last ten winners had run at the Cheltenham Festival. 

As for the Maghull Novices’ Chase I have no strong opinion yet I can give you the heads up that 17 of the last 19 winners ran in the Arkle Trophy, Paul Nicholls has won the race five times with seven seconds since 1999 and all but last year’s winner in the last ten years came from the first three in the betting.

Fingers crossed More Of That appears in the Silver Cross Stayers’ Hurdle as the record of those who ran in, and even won, the World Hurdle is exceptional in recent years. I can’t really advise anything other than him. 


The Coral Scottish Grand National…

Once Aintree is over all roads lead to Ayr for the Scottish National and after his recent run Green Flag could prove a popular winner.  He found his way into my notebook with his effort behind Holywell.  His four runs at Ayr have resulted in two wins and two seconds!