I went down to the Tizzards on Wednesday morning to school a few and had the pleasure of schooling Cue Card as he builds up to his final start at Sandown. He felt in great order and jumped really well. I’ve sat on him a few times now and it’s always a thrill. Paddy is a lucky fella to get to ride him.
More immediately I’m really looking forward to the Grand National meeting at Aintree. However looking at the readings I think the ground is going to be a lot softer than they are currently calling it. According to the going stick readings the ground looks to be on a par with their December meeting. They are calling it Good to Soft to Soft, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a lot softer than that.
The only time I’ve ever known Aintree to be really testing was the first year that I rode at the meeting, the year when Red Marauder won. That was a proper baptism of fire! What I do find at Aintree, particularly when the ground is very soft, is that the hurdle course can turn into a proper stamina test. They get racing such a long way out in hurdle races. I always think you need a horse that stays well over hurdles there.
Over fences it’s slightly different given the nature of the fences, and the speed with which they come up, placing an emphasis on speed and jumping, and a need to get into a good rhythm.
2.20 Aintree – Padleyourowncanoe
He ran very well at Cheltenham and will appreciate the soft ground at Aintree. He’s got to improve, we all know that. It’s obvious. But it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility that he could step up on his previous form as he’s improving all the time.
4.40 Aintree – Kings Socks
He ran a good race at Cheltenham. He travelled everywhere with me and just didn’t quite finish the race as I expected him to. I think the drop back in trip here will suit him.
The reoccurring theme of the next few days will be the question of how much Cheltenham has taken out of some horses. You never know until you run how much it affected them. He seems very well, but he certainly had a hard race at Cheltenham. That was only his second run in eighteen months but it depends what Cheltenham took out of him.
I see no reason why Aintree won’t suit him as he has form around a flat track like Auteuil. That said Aintree would be a quicker track than Auteuil.
5.15 Aintree – Meep Meep
I was really impressed with this filly at Chepstow. What she beat I don’t know? But she did it very impressively. Tom Lacey’s horses have been in cracking form all season. She is a likeable type and well deserving of her place in the line-up
The favourite Getaway Kate Mai has got form behind Relegate, the Willie Mullins winner of the Champion Bumper at the Festival, so that looks pretty solid.
Grand National – Vieux Lion Rouge
I schooled him the week and was very happy with him. He has had a slightly different preparation this season to last year. He ran a lot better at Ascot last time and seems to have come on for that run. He galloped all the way to the line.
The one thing he hasn’t done in his two attempts at the National so far is quite get home. However I’m hoping, a year older, he can get home on Saturday. I’ve always felt that he could get the trip but hasn’t quite done it yet. He wouldn’t be the first horse that finds an extra year can help him get an extra couple of furlongs.