Tag Archive for: Roi Mage

Reveley relishing reunion with Grand National hopeful Roi Mage

James Reveley will get the leg-up on a horse he helped to source as he partners Roi Mage in the Randox Grand National on Saturday.

The 12-year-old is trained in Ireland by Patrick Griffin and his son and assistant James – a duo Reveley is well acquainted with, having ridden numerous winners for them throughout his career.

A notable victory shared between them was with Maggio in the Listed Betfred Handicap Chase in 2016, the race before the Grand National in which Rule The World triumphed for Mouse Morris and David Mullins.

On that occasion, Reveley wore the blue and yellow silks previously made famous by Auroras Encore when he won the Aintree showpiece in 2013 for Sue Smith and Ryan Mania, colours belonging to a group of owners that clearly love to target the big race.

Roi Mage contesting the JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree earlier in his career
Roi Mage contesting the JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree earlier in his career (Mike Egerton/PA)

They did so last year with Roi Mage, who was partnered by another France-based jockey in Felix de Giles and finished an admirable seventh after his first encounter with the unique National obstacles at Aintree.

After a summer break, he joined forces with Reveley to target the Listed Grand Steeple-Chase-Cross-Country de Compiegne, a race he won by three lengths on heavy ground over three miles and three furlongs.

Most recently, he was seen in the Bluegrass Stamm 30 Chase at Down Royal, finishing second behind fellow National challenger Adamantly Chosen.

That run has prepared him nicely for his Liverpool bid and Reveley is looking forward to reuniting with him on going that is guaranteed to be testing.

“He’s a horse I’ve ridden a few times and I know quite well, I found him for the Griffins in France,” he said.

“I’d ridden him in France and I thought he’d be a good National type, they’ve had a bit of fun with him, they’ve had a couple of wins and a good run in the National last year. Let’s hope he can put in another one, as they love to have a National horse.

“I actually rode a winner for them at Aintree in the race before the National a long time ago, on Maggio in the same colours, so that’s where the connection comes from.

“They asked me if there were any horses in France that could potentially be National types and I thought of this horse, he’s turned out to be quite good for them.

“I think things have gone a bit better for him this year, his last run was good, very solid, and I liked how he stayed on to the line.

“They campaign him quietly, they don’t over-race him and that’s good for an older horse. He enjoys his life with the Griffins in Ireland and I’m quietly confident.”

Il Est Francais ridden by James Reveley (left) winning the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase
Il Est Francais ridden by James Reveley (left) winning the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (Steven Paston/PA)

Reveley has already enjoyed a notable success on British turf this year when landing the Grade One Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day aboard Il Est Francais.

Noel George and Amanda Zetterholm’s gelding then contested the Prix Murat at Auteuil last Saturday but something appeared to be amiss as he was all but pulled up.

“I haven’t heard the verdict yet but my immediate conclusion was that he didn’t enjoy being ridden like that,” the jockey said of the disappointment.

“He’s a dominant horse who likes to dominate, to use his stride and his jumping – and we didn’t let him do that.

“I think that could be one of the reasons why he ran so badly.”

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Roi Mage team disappointed with exposure given to protestors

Connections of Roi Mage have questioned the amount of publicity given to animal rights activists in the coverage of the Randox Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

James Griffin, assistant to his father Patrick, who trains the 11-year-old, said he felt the near 15-minute delay ahead of the race, caused by the protestors, affected several runners, including the Hill Sixteen, who suffered a fatal injury when falling at the first fence.

“There were a couple of horses that were a bit upset, but I said to our owners that we were blessed that our lad had no headgear or a tongue-tie on, because it is a hell of a long time to have blinkers or cheekpieces on horses,” said Griffin. “They are on to do a job. It is an education thing.

“But these protestors should not have been given any credit on the TV.

“They don’t show streakers, why should they show people like that (protestors)? Fine, show it if you are anti-racing, but don’t show it if you are pro-racing. Don’t give them the publicity.”

Roi Mage followed up his good run behind Longhouse Poet at Down Royal with a cracking seventh-placed finish under Felix de Giles, who stepped in when intended partner James Reveley failed in his bid to recover in time from a broken leg.

“I said beforehand that I felt he had the class to travel in a race like that and if he ran as well as he looked, he would cross the Melling Road with a chance – and that is what he did,” added Griffin.

“He didn’t let us down. The ground wasn’t an excuse. Felix had a good chat with James Reveley before the race on how to ride him and he rode him to the letter of his instructions.”

He added: “I felt justified in my jockey booking, because I have no doubt that would have raised an eyebrow or two along the way somehow.

“It worked. The fact he had ridden in that race before meant a great deal.

“Felix gave him a kick in the ribs before the fourth last and he winged it, then he gave him a pat. I thought that stood out. It was the mark of a good horseman. He got no mention on TV.

“To cross the Melling Road heading for home in the Grand National with your horse still travelling was an unbelievable thrill for the owners and everyone here. The horse ran a hell of a race.

“He was going so well. I already had the parade planned, knew what I was going to say – but anyway, we’ll have to keep it on hold for 12 months!”

Roi Mage’s participation was in doubt in January, when he suffered a nasty cut during the cross-country chase at Cheltenham.

It was only the excellent care he received from the veterinary team at the track that meant he could continue his career.

“Ian Camm, who spent two hours on his hands and knees under the horse, with his finger tip, cleaning the wound, texted me on Saturday morning, wishing us luck – that meant a great deal.

“We can’t thank Ian and his team enough for what they did,” added Griffin, who is targeting the National with Roi Mage next season.

“He hasn’t a cut or blemish on him. He is 100 per cent this morning and really enjoyed himself,” Griffin said.

“The National will be the plan again. He’s rated 149 and I don’t think the handicapper will be dropping him too much, too fast,” he added.

“He’s lightly raced since he came to this holiday camp, and he will be similarly campaigned again next year without going to Cheltenham.

“He will start off in France. He’ll go on his holidays and we’ll work back from this day next year and he doesn’t owe us anything.

“For those owners to have been given a thrill like that from him, was incredible. We fired one dart yesterday from a small yard and he didn’t let us down.”

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Confidence growing ahead of Roi Mage’s Grand National challenge

Connections of Roi Mage are growing increasingly bullish over his Randox Grand National chances after he chased home Longhouse Poet at Down Royal.

A best-priced 50-1 chance for the world-famous steeplechase, he represents the same owners who landed the race with Auroras Encore in 2013.

Like Auroras Encore, who was trained by Sue Smith, Roi Mage is an 11-year-old towards the bottom of the handicap and he narrowly missed the cut for the big race last year.

Trainer Patrick Griffin set his sights on Aintree at an early stage this term, but his participation was left on a knife-edge following an injury sustained at Cheltenham in January.

The trainer’s son and assistant, James Griffin, explained: “After Cheltenham, we didn’t think we would have a horse for the rest of the season, because he cut himself very badly in the Cross Country and genuinely we thought he would be gone for the season.

“Thanks to the Cheltenham veterinary team, specifically Ian Camm, who spent two hours on his hands and knees under the horse, with his finger tip, cleaning the wound meticulously, the dream is still alive.

“The horse cut himself very badly, we were a bit touch and go. But the horse was back being ridden out after three weeks and then it was on to Down Royal, where he ran a hell of a race.”

Roi Mage will carry the same colours as 2013 National winner Auroras Encore, who was partnered by ridden by Ryan Mania
Roi Mage will carry the same colours as 2013 National winner Auroras Encore, who was partnered by ridden by Ryan Mania (David Davies/PA)

Roi Mage was conceding weight to Longhouse Poet at Down Royal when beaten a length and a quarter, but the roles will be reversed at Aintree with Roi Mage allotted 10st 8lb while Longhouse Poet is on 11st.

“We were chuffed,” added Griffin. “I thought he’d run well and we think that would put him spot on. It is all systems go for Aintree now.

“He missed the cut by one last year but because he won at Down Royal last year, he went up 9lb to a mark of 149.”

He went on: “So, the plan all season was the Grand National. The plan always was to start in France, which we did. He finished third at Compiegne, giving both the winner and runner-up weight, and was only beaten just over two lengths.

“We were always working back from April 15 and he has come out of Down Royal bouncing. He has no weight on his back over that trip. We genuinely can’t wait.

“He’ll handle soft ground. If this (unsettled) weather holds up, then happy days. He’ll stay, we think he will. He has jumped round Auteuil, so Aintree shouldn’t be a problem.”

Connections are still hoping that three-time French champion jump jockey James Reveley will be fit enough to ride following a broken tibia sustained in a fall at Pau on February 19.

Griffin added: “We are hoping James will be back in time to ride him.

Connections hope French champion James Reveley will be fit for Aintree
Connections hope French champion James Reveley will be fit for Aintree (Daniel Hambury/PA)

“There are a mass of trials over the big Easter weekend at Auteuil and that is what he is aiming to be back for.

“We want James to ride him, but if he can’t, then we have two other riders in our heads.”

Winner of eight of his 38 starts over fences, Roi Mage has had just five runs over fences for Griffin since arriving from France, winning once and been placed on three other occasions for the yard, who are increasingly optimistic of a good showing at the Liverpool track.

“You can’t fancy a horse in the National, but realistically we know we have a horse who is capable of a big performance,” said Griffin.

“He has form in the book, he has a bit of speed – he won over two-miles-three 18 months ago – and he is relatively fresh. All season we have worked round the National and genuinely, we can’t wait.”

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Reveley in race against time to be fit for Roi Mage National ride

James Reveley is still holding out faint hopes that he will be fit to ride Randox Grand National outsider Roi Mage at Aintree.

Reveley, who was crowned French champion jockey for a third time in December, adding to his previous titles in 2016 and 2021, has been sidelined after breaking a leg in a fall at Pau on February 19.

Now he is facing a race against time to be fit for a rare opportunity to ride in the world’s most famous steeplechase.

“I’ve got a fractured tibia and I’m on the mend, but it could be touch and go for the National, to be honest,” said Reveley.

“I’m looking to get back around Easter. My target is April 8 to be back riding.

“I’m actually getting operated on to remove a screw, as it has come a bit loose and we will see how things go over the next week to 10 days.

“You can’t rush bone injuries and I have the leg to build back up. I’m slowly getting there but it takes a bit of time and work.”

The Patrick Griffin-trained Roi Mage is a general 50-1 shot for the April 15 National, having chased home Longhouse Poet at Down Royal on Friday.

The 11-year-old carries just 10st 8lb at Aintree, having missed the cut for the big race by one last year.

Reveley has won on Roi Mage before and partnered him when a close-up third tn a Listed event at Compiegne in November.

Though keen to renew the partnership, he fears he may be fighting a losing battle.

He added: “It is up in the air, but I spoke to James (Griffin, assistant trainer) and we said we’d make a decision over the first couple of days in April as to whether I would be fit to ride.

“I said I’d love to ride him and I know the horse quite well. I think he’ll suit the track.

“It is in the balance. I would say it is more unlikely than likely, but you never know. We’ll see.

“I was looking forward to it. It is a shame really, because most of the years I can never ride in the National because it falls on the same day as the big trials in Auteuil.

“This is the first year it has been separate weekends, so if I can’t make it, I’ll be gutted.”

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