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Williams’ Successful Winter Continues

Venetia Williams

A wonderful winter for Williams

Venetia Williams was born in Cornwall and moved to Herefordshire Read more

Sunday Supplement: A National winner in waiting…

Night In Milan: Scottish National winner?

Night In Milan: Scottish National winner?

Sunday supplement

By Tony Stafford

My friend Peter put me up to it. On Wednesday he asked me to supply him with the Grand National analysis, “You know the one you used to do, in what was it, Racing & Football Outlook?” Well, actually, Pete, it was in the late lamented Raceform Update, a column I did from the minute I took an early bath from the Daily Telegraph.

It was James de Wesselow, whose wonderful father Ian had taken me on as a rookie editor of the old Racehorse weekly, published by Raceform, all those decades ago, who head-hunted me for the Compton-based title, and I loved providing a rather similar, if less self-indulgent thousand words or so each week that I generally do here.

The bonus, for Ascot and Cheltenham on the Update was a big meeting extra-money preview while the Aintree requirement was to sort the contenders into four pretty equal groups.

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Peter, who has the memory of an elephant, rekindled the old tradition, causing me to explore with geegeez.co.uk the possibility of a public revival of what otherwise would have been a pointless private exercise.

Indeed it actually was just that, Peter getting delayed on some Saturday morning property valuations around North West London so that he didn’t have the few bob on Pineau de Re he had planned the night before.

Those of you who did read the column would have seen Night in Milan as the number one tip. Fear not, his day will come next Saturday if as I expect he will go for the Scottish National at Ayr. Frustrations for the Reveley family at just missing the cut can be readily addressed, and he’ll be my fancy for next year at Aintree.

For the second year running, I kept my viewing to the lower-key Racing UK team of Lydia, Jonathan, Steve and Tom (happily restored to full health after his experiments with a tractor last summer). It’s great when racing fans run the show. Bet their viewing figures don’t drop by double digits, unlike those of the big shots on C4.

Grand National day is always slightly quirky as it coincides with one of the more frantic days of football action. The Liverpool teams had the day off but Manchester’s finest both clocked up four with United suddenly wishing there were half a dozen more games for the apparent sudden infusion of Moyes magic to take full effect.

It never takes much. If Bayern Munich’s apparent staleness at Old Trafford and Saturday’s domestic defeat – the first of the season – continue, it’s more than possible that United’s Champions League dream could materialise after all. Moyes’s Everton teams always finished the season well, so why not his United outfit?

Also funny last week was the sudden turning of some of the media on their long-term darling Senor Mourinho. At least two brave souls had the temerity to suggest that when it goes wrong at Chelsea it’s never Jose’s fault: when it goes well, it’s all his doing. It’s always the other way around with his great pal, M. Wenger, of course.

Today, then, it’s Everton/ Arsenal and West Ham/ Liverpool. No predictions, but a feast of action and then Chelsea/ PSG to come in the week.

After my cricket opinions on England’s T20 Word Cup efforts, I trust the females of the species will cope with the old enemy Australia in the women’s final, a tasty aperitif to India v Sri Lanka, a sure-fire classic in prospect later on. Incidentally, there are some brilliant players over for the summer in the county championship, names like Graeme Smith, Peter Siddall and T20 specialist Glenn Maxwell among them.

Then also today there’s Hamilton v Rosberg in Bahrain and Murray getting us over the line against Italy in the Davis Cup.

We’re also getting close to proper Flat racing, with the Craven meeting and Newbury coming next week. One slight downside is that four of the five English classics will have been contested in nine weeks’ time!

Can you excuse the short rations today? I need to build myself up for that rare combination of stamina and concentration that such a day’s viewing requires. I generally, like the man in the betting shop, have an opinion on most of it, but nowadays I don’t let my many prejudices spoil the enjoyment in the way I used to.

Monday Musings: Coming Soon…

comingsoonIn today's musings, we look briefly back and then forwards. First, a quick look at the weekend from a racing and geegeez standpoint, and then onwards, and some important news.

Let's begin on Saturday, and the first day of the flat turf season came and went. It looked tricky but followers of this post would have sailed through the opening leg of the placepot, the Brocklesby, with Banker Bill's Paddy Again who was second at 9/1. In the second race, Double Dutch landed the 1-2 from its pair of picks, the winner returning 7/2.

Then came Cammidge Trophy, and a disappointing third for Stat of the Day, Jack Dexter. He, like most other runners trying to come from behind on Saturday, got stuck in the mud and was unable to pick up the pace-pressers.

Using this to advantage were those scouting the pace analysis tab for the big handicap races. Specifically, the fourth race on Saturday, the Spring Mile, and 10/1 scorer, Brae Hill. He was a prominent racer drawn on the right side from a pace perspective, and again his trainer's early season form was a bonus.

The point of all this? The geegeez racecards have some really valuable tools for flat race analysis, and the pace analysis tool might just be the pick of the pile for big field races. Users can whittle the field using the Race Analysis and Full Form Filter tabs, and then establish whether their fancies are drawn amongst the pace on whichever side of the field they're situated.

That whole process could find you a selection in a thirty runner sprint handicap in less than ten minutes. It might not win, but you'd know that you were backing a horse suited by going, distance, class, and field size; rated within sight of its last winning mark; and probably drawn in the right area of the track. That, dear reader, is an enormous time saver.

Once you get to grips with pace analysis, it will become a pivotal element of your punting. There is no flat turf racing this week (a little strange after the Lincoln meeting at the weekend), but as soon as we have a couple of big field sprints to go at, I'll record a video showing how best to look at pace. Hint: we won't always be looking for prominent racers, but we are always interested in where the most trailblazers are situated!

Another thing to keep in mind when betting on the early season turf flat racing is trainer form. Again, geegeez cards have it covered. Below is one of four trainer reports geegeez displays each day, this one for fourteen day form (the others are for 30 day form, one year course form and course form since 2009).

Today's hot trainers...

Today's hot trainers...

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Trainer form in or of itself is a strong pointer, but when allied to the individual race - and horse - research we're able to do with the other tools, it's another piece of the jigsaw which is easily understood.

Incidentally, if you want to know the trainer form for a single horse or race, click the little trainer icon (man with a top hat) on the card. Here's an example where I've clicked the trainer icon in the top menu - that shows the trainer form for ALL runners in the race. If you're only interested in one or two trainers in that race, click the individual trainer icons next to the horses you're interested in:

More trainer form...

More trainer form...

As you can see, there are four different takes on a trainer's form, as per the overall report. So you can see which trainers are coming into form (by comparing 30 day and 14 day figures), and which have the best track records.

Trainer form is always important. In the early weeks of the season even more so.

**

On Saturday, I also pointed you towards the tipping content on geegeez. We have three tipping pieces a day from Monday to Saturday: Stat of the Day, Double Dutch and The Shortlist.

Stat of the Day fell short with Jack Dexter, as mentioned, on Saturday. But Double Dutch came up trumps with a 14.75/1 double, and The Shortlist nominated winners at 8/1 and 7/1 from five selections. Those are free tips available on the site each day. Obviously, we don't always do as well as that, but all of our tipping services are in front, and combine fun with profit, which is the ethos of geegeez.

After all, if it's not fun, we might as well get a job, right? 😉

Your first 30 days for just £1

**

Enough of the past, and on to the future. Thursday sees the start of the Aintree Grand National meeting and there is a host of fantastic racing across the three days, culminating in the big race itself, the Crabbie's Grand National on Saturday afternoon. If you missed my Grand National preview, it's here.

I'll have full coverage of the meeting, including in depth previews and some trends, plus of course tips for each day, and the best bookmaker offers. And I might even offer a placepot perm too, if there's time.

The Thursday is a brilliant day's racing, with FOUR Grade 1 events! And Gold subscribers can see the five day declarations, as well as Race Analysis Reports, on the racecards page already. So if you want to get a head start, you can.

**

So, why am I telling you all this stuff about the geegeez racecards? Two reasons, I guess. First, you might already be a subscriber and not be aware of all the very cool stuff they do - check out the comments from people below on what they've done for them!

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Those comments all came within a few days of each other. I really should start keeping a proper log of them. There have been literally scores of similar comments!

And secondly, subscription prices are going up in the near future. Now, if you're an existing subscriber, don't worry. I'm very grateful to you for supporting geegeez from the start, and you're locked in at the almost give away price of £12 a month for as long as you remain a subscriber. (And thank you).

But think about it. Geegeez offers THREE tipping services, each of which could be a premium service in its own right. Let's say those services were only charged at £20 a month each, which is less than most other offerings, despite the fact ours are proven to a) be more profitable and b) more accessible and fun.

Then there's the Race Analysis Report, surely the most descriptive single view of a race available anywhere in Britain. If you think I'm being grandiose, take a look at the below, and tell me which horse you'd back. It might well not win, but these standouts ARE winning, time and time and time again.

dingobay2

[Incidentally, using the Full Form Filter tab, I clicked on the 'course' filter, and could see that Dingo Bay was 4th of 5 on his sole run at Hexham. On good to firm ground and as a 50/1 shot. Looking at his form on heavy, is it any wonder good to firm didn't suit?! No!]

Let's try and put a price on these Race Analysis Reports and Full Form Filters. The Racing Post - which has something called Postdata, a clunky 'black box' method for doing something vaguely similar - charges £26 a month, or £260 a year, for that plus its other offerings.

But it doesn't have anything as accessible as the Race Analysis Report. And it doesn't have a means of filtering form like the Full Form Filters. As for pace, seriously? Here's what you do: you go through each run from each runner and you make a note of their in-running comments, and then you work out which might front run and which might not. Erm... no thanks.

So, conservatively, with three profitable tipping pieces, and all those tools, what do you reckon? £90 a month? Some tipping services charge more than that for a single tipster, and don't have our profit track record.

Let's look at some of the computer formbooks out there. Now, Proform is excellent. A really good tool, and it has pace analysis and some (less readable) profiling tools. And you get those for £20.

A week!

No tipping services, etc. You can get a monthly pass for £50, in fairness... or you can pay £12 at geegeez. Are you starting to see why I'm planning to raise the price for new subscribers?!

What about Computer Timeform? That costs £1,230 per year for both flat and jumps, which is £102.50 a month. Now, again, Computer Timeform is a great tool. But... if you want to use their ratings, you need to know that they're massively factored into the market which means it's nigh on impossible to get value. Timeform will NEVER quote profit figures for their overall performance. Because they can't.

Hundred quid a month.

Then there's Raceform Interactive. A tool with excellent functionality, but the clunkiest most out-of-date interface you'll ever see. And boy, is it slow! That'll set you back £72 a month. No tipping elements. No traffic light simple race analysis.

Look, if you're already using the geegeez cards, good on you, you know they're the best! (Feel free to comment below, by the way, and help persuade some others to take a trial).

Ah yes, that reminds me. At the moment, you get a free 17 day trial of the FULL Gold service. That's two and a half weeks, enough to use everything for the Grand National and Newmarket's Craven meeting, as well as all of the other racing happening during that time.

Again, I'm going to be reducing the trial period to around ten days in the near future. Why? Because I think it's possible to grasp the value of this content in a day or two, and to really understand it well within a week to ten days, even if you only have half an hour or so a day.

Obviously, they're not for everyone. But actually, at £12 a month (40p a day), they are for most people. 40p a day.

I am very proud of these tools and I'm delighted to read of the power they're bringing to users... and the profits. And that's why they are going to at least double in price before the end of April. It's April tomorrow.

80p a day is still a bargain and, when I offer this racing profit toolkit to non-geegeez readers, they'll see that.

So, if you've not already taken the geegeez cards for a test drive, now is a very good time. If you end up paying £24 or £30 a month later on, you'll still love them. But it would feel a bit daft if you could have enjoyed and benefited from them for less than half that ad infinitum, wouldn't it?

Here's the link to upgrade

I'll be back tomorrow with a preliminary look at this year's Aintree Festival and some overall facts and figures to keep in mind. In the meantime, do leave a comment if you're currently a Gold subscriber and use the cards, tools and racing tips, to share your experiences. What do you like most? Anything you're less keen on?

Happy Monday!

Matt

Haydock Grand National Trial Preview, Trends, Tips

Can Well Refreshed repeat in the Haydock Grand National Trial?

Well Refreshed repeat in the Grand National Trial?

Haydock Grand National Trial Preview, Trends, Tips

The big race from Haydock on Saturday is the Grand National Trial, a Grade 3 steeplechase run over three miles and five furlongs. That the going is likely to be very heavy means this will be a proper 'survival of the fittest' affair, as they slog through the mud up the interminable straight.

Let's start with a look at the trends from recent renewals of the contest. The following data covers the sixteen races since 1997, when Suny Bay claimed the spoils.

Haydock Grand National Trial Trends

Age: Winners have come from a range between seven and eleven, but the highest strike rates within that array are for seven to nine-year-olds, and they're preferred.

Weight: Although three of the last sixteen winners have carried top weight of 11-12 to victory, no other horse weighted above 11-01 has won, and only seven have placed. Of the three top weighted winners, two of those were on decent ground, and only the repeating Silver By Nature was able to carry a big weight to success on heavy. The percentage call is with the lower weighted animals in such testing turf.

Recent Form: An incredible 13 of the last 16 winners, and thirty of the 51 placed horses, finished first or second last time out. Coming here in form seems to be a huge plus. Indeed, blindly backing last time out 1-2 finishers was worth a profit of 32 points at industry starting price!

Moreover, 13 of the last 16 winners raced over at least 3m1f last time. This is a staying race, so it's little surprise that those who run in staying races do best.

Backing horses that finished first or second last time in a race of 3m1f or further, would have found nine of the last sixteen winners, for a profit at SP of 40 points...

Haydock Grand National Trial Preview

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The ferocity of this heat is highlighted by the fact that, at time of writing, the bookmakers bet 13/2 the field, with the outsider of the fourteen declared runners a 25/1 shot. In the circumstances, an ability to handle testing conditions looks pivotal, and I'm going to focus this preview on those that have shown winning form in muddy events.

Those with proven muddy hooves are Merry King, Hawkes Point, Well Refreshed, Wychwoods Brook, Emperor's Choice, Across The Bay, Nuts N Bolts, Red Rocco and Soll.

Merry King is still young at just seven years of age, but he continues to run valiantly without winning in the big staying contests. I suspect the same will be true this time, despite him being weighted to get much closer to both Hawkes Point and Wychwoods Brook.

Hawkes Point himself ran an absolute stormer in the Welsh National, when just a head second to Mountainous (Merry King back in fifth). That effort did nothing to alleviate the lead he has to lug, with 11-06 allotted. Nevertheless, he's fairly fresh for this and has shown that attrition is his game. I can see him running a fine race under his burden.

Well Refreshed pulled up in the Welsh National, but had won his two previous heavy ground starts, including this race last year. Clearly, then, conditions are not a problem. But... he had just ten stone on his back that day, compared with 11-04 this time. That eighteen pounds extra ought to be more than enough to prevent the repeat.

Wychwoods Brook is on a hat-trick and, therefore, is on the upgrade. He needed every yard of the 3m1f trip over this course on heavy ground last time out and, while we have to take his stamina for this extra half mile on trust, that small winning margin means he's just five pounds higher here. If one of the heavier weighted horses is to win, I suspect it could well be Wychwoods Brook. (Incidentally, with Conor Ring's seven pound claim, you could argue that he's beneath the eleven stone threshold as, effectively, he'll be carrying 10-12).

Emperor's Choice is a horse I like, and one that did me a big favour when taking the longest route and still prevailing in the mud at Ffos Las last time out. That was a hard race, though, and the question mark for me would be whether he can grind out another victory just two weeks after a real battle in Wales. He has won both times he's stepped back to the track within ten days, and his record on heavy is 3211161, so it's not out of the question that he'll be able to dig deep enough to conquer all. 10/1 is fair enough, win only.

Across The Bay is a bold front-runner, as he showed to great effect when making all over this trip last February. But he's more versatile as regards pace these days, and actually was held up when winning over three and a half miles here last time out. Those victories have conspired to lumber him with top weight here, though, and I'm just not quite sure about the form of the McCain stable right now. Enough negatives to put me off, on balance, though he's a thoroughly likable sort.

Nuts N Bolts won over this trip two starts back, but most of his form is over a mile or so shorter. And the fact that his course and distance win was sandwiched by a couple of P's is unattractive too. At a big price, he might be playable, but 14/1 in a race this competitive is not a value wager to this eye.

Red Rocco was second to Nuts N Bolts over course and distance, but has failed to complete the last twice and, in that respect, they're two P's in a pod from a value perspective (groan). And Soll, another likable plodder, could run into the frame but it would be a shock - to me, at least - if he was good enough to beat a raft of more in-form rivals.

Haydock Grand National Trial Tips

I really like the profile of Wychwoods Brook. He's clearly progressive, and may have something in hand of the 'capper if this step up in trip ekes out a tad more improvement. That last gasp win on his previous start implies it will. At 10/1 with bet365, Best Odds Guaranteed, and with a free bet in the next Channel 4 race if he wins, that will do for me.

Of the remainder, Emperor's Choice has perfect conditions and, if not cream crackered from a very tough win a fortnight ago, could go close. Again, Betfred's 10/1 is fair enough.

Haydock Grand National Trial Selection

Wychwoods Brook 10/1 bet365, Best Odds Guaranteed, free bet in next C4 race if he wins.

 Emperor's Choice 10/1 Betfred, Best Odds Guaranteed

Betfred Horse Racing

The £1,000,000 National – simply spiffing!

crabbieThe Grand National has a new sponsor for 2014, and with it the promise that the race will be worth over £1,000,000 in prize money. It is everything the Aintree executive had hoped for.

The deal has elements of continuity about it, but comes round full circle in others. There were fears that when John Smith’s ended their nine-year association with the race, finding another commercial sponsor for the race would be difficult. Now, drinks company Crabbie’s have signed a three year deal to sponsor the National, and along with it, races which will become the Crabbie’s Foxhunters’ Chase and the Crabbie’s Topham Chase.

The company becomes the fourth successive drinks business to sponsor the race, following in the footsteps of Seagram, Martell and John Smith’s.

According to Peter Eaton, the deputy chairman of Crabbie’s parent company, Merseyside based Halewood International, it’s a race they have long wanted to hook up to. He said, “It has always been the family’s ambition to sponsor the Grand National and we are very excited to have this opportunity. With the joint partnership of Crabbie’s, Aintree and the Jockey Club, it’s our aim to take the Grand National to another level.”

The reason for Halewood International’s particular interest in the National stems from an earlier connection with the race. The founder of the company, the late John Halewood, owned the 2004 Grand National winner, Amberleigh House, trained by Ginger McCain.

John Baker, regional director of Jockey Club Racecourses in the North West, summed things up nicely. After expressing his delight at the deal he added, “These are exciting times for all concerned.”

Trainer Stats: 30th April 2013

HaggasAndy Newton’s got six more yards to look out for this week on his ‘Hot Trainers’ list....... Read more

Sat TV Trends: 6th April 2013

Grand National

It's GRAND NATIONAL Day..........

It's the biggest day on the horse racing calendar this Saturday as Grand National fever sweeps the country - Andy Newton's covered the big race from a trends angle, plus the other LIVE C4 races from Aintree........ Read more

Aintree: Trainers To Note……..

Peter Bowen

Peter Bowen Often Does Well At Aintree....

With the three-day Aintree Grand National Meeting this week Andy Newton highlights six stables that have often done well with their runners at this fixture. Read more

Trainer Stats: 19th March 2013

Nicholls Dandy

Nicholls Runners 'Just Dandy'

A real mixed bag of trainers to look out for this week on Andy Newton's hot-list....... Read more

Sunday Supplement: Cheltenham (and Aintree) Memories

Tony Stafford

Tony Stafford

Sunday supplement, by Tony Stafford

Coming out of Sandown on Saturday evening, I bumped into the Guardian’s Chris Cook, son of the late lamented Labour politician Robin Cook, who asked me: “Are you staying for the Cheltenham Preview?” Having done one myself as reported by Mr Bisogno in geegeez.co.uk last week, and with another on the agenda at the Bedfordshire Racing Club on Cheltenham eve, my intentions were elsewhere.

“Who’s on?” I replied. “Henderson, Nicholls, McCoy…” “Go no further, I’m off!” a response that caused my racing accomplice for the day to suggest my requirements were rather higher than they ought to have been if I could afford to miss the opinions of that trio and whoever else might have been revealed if Chris had been given the chance to finish his sentence.

But then again, what’s the point? Cheltenham’s been rammed down our throats since the first juvenile hurdlers started their campaigns back in June. Ground, soft all winter, firmed up a shade for a couple of weeks. But then Thursday and Friday’s rain guaranteed there would be a mud bath and probably a punting bloodbath for those four days in the Cotswolds.

My own proper punting days are long gone, so in approaching being on a panel as at Billericay the other day, I felt inclined to take more of a purist view than say Barry Dennis, whose laptop kept everyone appraised of recent market moves.

Barry’s lost none of his energetic enthusiasm, or his tendency for good-natured (I think?) bullying as he presents his arguments, but the audience – generous in the extreme in the charity auction – were given what they needed by him and his friend David Johnson, so well connected where the Pipe and Nicholls stables were concerned. As to father and son Quinlan, trainer Noel and jockey Jack, common sense and genuine insight marked their contributions.

David Johnson could hardly have had a better time as a racehorse owner in terms of big-race success with a Grand National triumph and umpteen Cheltenham wins, but before any of that started my own love affair with the Festival got an instantaneous jolt when my dad drove me and a couple of friends there in 1968.

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In those days, the Supreme novice hurdle was known as the Gloucestershire Hurdle and run in two divisions. I was already at the Greyhound Express one year before the era of Sand Star, whom I napped in all four rounds – yes, only four then – as he went unbeaten for an Irish triumph. In the last, as we looked in the paddock, was a big chestnut gelding trained by Dan Moore and ridden by Tommy Carberry, his son-in-law.

We all backed him and he won. His name was L’Escargot, and until the appearances much later of Wayward Lad and recently Punjabi, no jumper challenged him for my affections.

The L’Escargot story was amazing. He was owned, like brilliant Derby winner Sir Ivor and less sparkling Larkspur, by Raymond Guest, a former American Ambassador to Ireland. To say Raymond had a few bob was a bit of an understatement, as he was from the steelmaking Phipps family which even now retains a top place in the US racing and breeding hierarchy as horse royalty.

With those family connections, Guest almost inevitably sent L’Escargot to New York in the days when there was still a credible jumping programme and he promptly won chaser of year principally through victory in the Temple Gwathmey Chase.

Returned to Moore, he was now in that tricky second-season chaser category, but luck was on connections’ side. John Hughes, one of the more original racing officials of his time induced the Wills tobacco group to sponsor a series of chases – the Wills Premier Chase – the final of which was to be run at Haydock, where he was Clerk of the Course.

In 2013, the motivation for me to find winners is almost ceremonial and decorative, but by late 1969 I’d arrived at the Press Association, starting point of Sir Peter O’Sullevan, Harry Carpenter and many others, where my colleagues included Tony Morris and Jonathan Powell, both still very active in the media (Jonathan was at Sandown) soon to be joined by Neil Wilkins, who was there too.

The loose-leaved form book was the constant accompaniment – no computers then - and study thereof suggested that L’Escargot was a good thing for the series. When he narrowly lost the Irish qualifier to Tom Dreaper- (trainer of Arkle) handled East Bound his chance in fact improved for Haydock, as the race’s conditions gave a Qualifier winner a 5lb penalty in the Final.

Hughes then framed his big card with a handicap hurdle also sponsored by Wills, and on the Tuesday in early January I looked minutely at the weights and reckoned that Ryan Price had the answer in the shape of a progressive type called Some Jest.

Then came what I believe was the forerunner of the Pricewise plan of attack. Phone the Hills, Corals, Ladbrokes and Tote offices and ask if they’d had any money for anything in the Wills Handicap Hurdle or Premier Chase? Every day there was a quote from one or other of Some Jest shortening, and the racing brief we sent to the papers duly appeared in the papers the next morning. I’d taken 20-1 Some Jest, 9-4 L’Escargot and a little double, as well as backing L’Escargot at 16-1 for the Gold Cup – he must shorten if he wins at Haydock, mustn’t he?

After the initial bulletin, Some Jest was down to 12’s and by Friday he was 4-1 favourite. On the day he drifted to 10-1 but won comfortably while L’Escargot made hard work of beating East Bound, but beat him he did.

So then it was off to Cheltenham. I had a little press up at 20-1 and again at 25’s so on the train going up I pretty much decided I didn’t need to have any more on. Well L’Escargot duly won, at 33-1 and when he won it again the following year in a mud bath which has rarely been replicated since the installation of what some might have said over-efficient drainage, he was setting a standard that only Best Mate and Kauto Star (with a gap) have repeated.

Yet those were merely the first three phases of the L’Escargot story. A Cheltenham-winning novice, US chasing champ and then dual Gold Cup hero, would have been enough for most horses. Fourth in 1972, his attentions, with pale blue hood affixed to denote senior indolence, were transferred to the Grand National.

In 1973, his first attempt, he carried 12st joint top-weight with the heroic runner-up Crisp, but the pair had the misfortune of meeting the on-the-up Aintree legend Red Rum, who was getting 23lb from them. I watched that race in an office in the Daily Telegraph, where I’d arrived the previous year. Red Rum had been my weights-day tip in the paper, one of nine winners of the race I found in my 30 years there.

As I screamed Brian Fletcher home, I had more than a passing interest in L’Escargot, feeling almost a traitor in ignoring him. That was the year he was almost on the deck at Becher’s, but he roared home for a 25 lengths third. In ‘74, he was the seven-length runner-up to Rummy, now getting 1lb from the top-weighted winner.

Then came the final career-making statement as in 1975, the pair came to the last alongside and clear of the field. Fletcher, destined to be replaced for Red Rum’s final two runs in the race by Tommy Stack, turned to Carberry and said generously and famously: “Go on Tommy, it’s yours!” and it was, L’Escargot receiving 11lb from the Aintree god, winning by 15 lengths with Spanish Steps a doughty third.

Red Rum became the best known horse of all time when Grand National winner for the third time in 1977 after two second places, as a 12-year-old back on the track where he won (dead-heated) his first ever race in a two-year-old seller ten years earlier. I reckon though that L’Escargot, two years his senior, deserves much greater acclaim than he ever gets for his class and versatility. Not quite Rummy, but somewhere near. I’ll be thinking of him as I retrace the miles west down the M40 on Tuesday morning.

Sat TV Trends: 2nd March 2013

Newbury

A Decent Card A Newbury.......

Some decent action this week as the C4 cameras head to Newbury and Doncaster - Andy Newton's got all the TV races covered from a trends angle.... Read more

Sat TV Trends: 16th Feb 2013

Silver by Nature

Can Silver By Nature Win Another GN Trial?

Another busy Saturday with LIVE C4 action from Haydock, Wincanton and Ascot - Andy Newton's on hand with all the trends and stats that matter...... Read more

National meeting closes in on £3 million prize money

nationalstartPrize money at this year’s Grand National meeting is up by £185,000, an increase of 7.3%, although the National itself is not one of the 13 races over the three days to see a higher reward for the winner. The increases mean that a total of £2,725,000 will be won over the three days of the meeting, which takes place from 4-6 April. Read more

Sat TV Trends: 5th Jan 2013

Welsh National

The Welsh National Takes Centre Stage

A huge day of LIVE C4 action this Saturday from Sandown, Wincanton and Chepstow, that includes the Welsh National...... Read more