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Tuesday, April 5, 2005



Saturday’s John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree will now be run at 4.10pm, which is 25 minutes later than previously scheduled, and will be televised live on BBC 1.

Commenting on the change, Charles Barnett, Managing Director at Aintree, said: “We have made this decision in consultation with the BBC in order to offer members of the public the best possible afternoon’s viewing.”

The John Smith’s Grand National will now be run as the fifth race on the seven-race programme.

Consequently, the first four races from Aintree on Saturday will be televised live on BBC 2, with the revised order of running on that day as follows:

1.45pm £50,000 John Smith’s Extra Smooth Handicap Hurdle
2.15pm £110,000 John Smith’s Maghull Novices Chase
2.50pm £40,000 John Smith’s No Nonsense Handicap Hurdle (switched from 5.05pm)
3.20pm £150,000 Scottish and Newcastle Aintree Hurdle
4.10pm £700,000 John Smith’s Grand National
4.55pm £30,000 John Smith’s Novices’ Amateur Riders Handicap Chase
5.30pm £30,000 John Smith’s Champion Standard Open NH Flat Race

BBC 1 will switch to Aintree from the Royal Wedding at 3.30pm in order to capture the build-up to the world’s greatest steeplechase at 4.10pm.

Barnett added: “We have taken this decision after a great deal of thought and discussion. We hope it will be a great day for everyone.”


Thursday 7th, Friday 8th and Saturday 9th April

Time THURSDAY 7th APRIL Distance Prize £
2.00 * The John Smith’s and Batleys Liverpool Hurdle 3m 110yds 60,000
2.35 * The Betfair Bowl Steeple Chase 3m 1f 150,000
3.10 * The John Smith’s Anniversary 4YO Novices’ Hurdle 2m 110yds 120,000
3.45 * The John Smith’s Fox Hunters’ Steeple Chase 2m 5f 110yds 35,000
4.20 * The John Smith’s Red Rum Handicap Steeple Chase 2m 70,000
4.55 The John Smith’s Mersey Novices’ Hurdle 2m 4f 50,000
5.30 The John Smith’s HBLB Mares Only Standard Open
NH Flat 2m 1f 25,000

2.00 * The John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Steeple Chase 3m 1f 75,000
2.35 * The John Smith’s Top Novices’ Hurdle 2m 110yds 50,000
3.10 * The John Smith’s Melling Steeple Chase 2m 4f 150,000
3.45 * The John Smith’s and Spar Topham Steeple Chase 2m 5f 110yds 80,000
4.20 * The John Smith’s NUSSL Sefton Novices’ Hurdle 3m 110yds 80,000
4.55 The betfair.com Handicap Steeple Chase 3m 1f 50,000
5.30 The John Smith’s Extra Cold Handicap Hurdle 3m 110yds 40,000

1.45 * The John Smith’s Extra Smooth Handicap Hurdle 2m 110yds 50,000
2.15 * The John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Steeple Chase 2m 110,000
2.50 * The John Smith’s No Nonsense Handicap Hurdle 2m 4f 40,000
3.20 * The Scottish and Newcastle Aintree Hurdle 2m 4f 150,000
4.10 * The John Smith’s Grand National Steeple Chase 4m 4f 700,000
4.55 The John Smith’s Novices’ Handicap Chase 2m 4f 30,000



Aintree Racecourse is close to selling all Grandstand and Tattersalls tickets for both Friday and Saturday, the final two days of the three-day John Smith’s Grand National meeting.

Only 4,000 Tattersalls tickets are left for Friday, Ladies Day, but they are expected to be quickly snapped up, as are the 1,000 Tattersalls tickets still remaining for Saturday, John Smith’s Grand National day, which Aintree fully expect to be all sold by the close of play on Friday.

Consequently, the only tickets expected to be available on Saturday are those at £10 for the John Smith’s No-Nonsense Steeplechase Enclosure.

Nigel Payne, Press Officer at Aintree, said today (Tuesday, April 5): “It looks essential for racegoers requiring Tattersalls tickets to buy them in advance for both Friday and Saturday.”

The opening day of the meeting is on Thursday. There are a limited number of County Stand and Princess Royal Stand Roof badges plus West Tip seat badges and Tattersalls tickets available for that day.



The first horses to arrive at Aintree for the John Smith’s Grand National Meeting came into the stables from Ireland at 4am this morning according to Derek Thompson, the racecourse’s Stables Manager.

He said: “The first arrivals have come in from the Irish stables of Paul Nolan, John Hassett and Eugene O’Sullivan.

“We have another six or seven runners coming in from the Emerald Isle this afternoon from Tom Taaffe’s and Mouse Morris.

“Then we’ll have some more Irish hopefuls turning up at 4am on Wednesday - from Paul Nolan’s, Christy Roche and Jessica Harrington.

“Some of the Irish horses have been travelling earlier as the weather forecast is not very good for the ferries.

“This year there is an extra race at the John Smith’s Grand National Meeting [the John Smith’s Mares Only National Hunt Flat Race] and while we normally cater for about 330 horses, this year we’ll be looking after approximately 360.

“My own personal agenda this year is fairly relaxed - I’m working from 5am until 10pm each day starting on Tuesday and I’ll probably sit back and relax at 2pm on Sunday!”



Legendary Irish owner and punter J P McManus is to have six runners in the £700,000 John Smith’s Grand National on Saturday, revealed his racing manager Frank Berry today.

Top-weight Le Coudray (11st 12lb) will be ridden by Conor O’Dwyer, Clan Royal (10st 11lb) is the mount of champion jockey Tony McCoy and Innox (10st 6lb) will be partnered by Robert ‘Chocolate’ Thornton, while Spot Thedifference (10st 7lb), Risk Accessor (11st 4lb) and Shamawan (10st 6lb) will also line up, with riders for these final three yet to be finalised.

First Gold misses the John Smith’s Grand National in favour of the £150,000 Betfair Bowl, which he has won twice already (2001 &2003, at Aintree on Thursday, when he will be ridden by Tony McCoy.



Only nine of the 10 horses weighted on 10st 6lb for Saturday’s John Smith’s Grand National are guaranteed a place in the 40-strong Aintree field, and the one who has the lowest BHB rating and therefore has to sweat between now and final declaration time on Thursday is Hunters Tweed, who is 41st on the list.

Of the quartet on 10st 5lb, Marcus du Berlais (42) gets preference over L’Aventure (43), Native Emperor (44) and A Piece Of Cake (45), while of the sextet on 10st 4lb Garvivonnian (46) is rated above Longshanks (47), Present Bleu (48), Supreme Glory (49), Wild Tempo (50) and Smarty (51).

The quartet on 10st 3lb - Historic (52), Swansea Bay (53), Gunner Welburn (54) and Davids Lad (55) - will be hoping for a mass exodus, as will connections of Arctic Jack (56), Cassia Heights (57), Rand (58), Be My Royal (59), Kymanjen (60) and Over The First (61).

The ratings of the remaining five-day entries are as follows: Juveigneur (62), Royal Atalza (63), Whereareyounow (64), Be My Better Half (65), World Wide Web (66), Multeen River (67), Heart Midlothian (68), You’re Special (69), Itsonlyme (70), This Is Serious (71), Montreal (72), Jack High (73), Spring Margot (74), Latitude (75), Mini Sensation (76), Bright Approach (77), Hersov (78), Sherkin Island (79), Dark Room (80), Majed (81), Boy’s Hurrah (82), Farinel (83), Only Once (84) and Toulouse-Lautrec (85).

horse weight elimination order from the lowest weight upwards
Le Coudray (FR) 11 12, 85
First Gold (FR) 11 11, 84
Royal Auclair (FR) 11 10, 83
Monty's Pass (IRE) 11 6, 82
Fondmort (FR) 11 6, 81
Take The Stand (IRE) 11 5, 80
Ballycassidy (IRE) 11 5, 79
Ballybough Rasher (IRE) 11 4, 78
Risk Accessor (IRE) 11 4, 77
Bindaree (IRE) 11 3, 76
Amberleigh House (IRE) 11 3, 75
Hedgehunter (IRE) 11 1, 74
Foly Pleasant (FR) 11 0, 73
Astonville (FR) 10 13, 72
Ad Hoc (IRE) 10 12, 71
Heros Collonges (FR) 10 11, 70
Glenelly Gale (IRE) 10 11, 69
It Takes Time (IRE) 10 11, 68
Clan Royal (FR) 10 11, 67
Nil Desperandum (IRE) 10 11, 66
Lord Noelie (IRE) 10 10, 65
Joly Bey (FR) 10 10, 64
Jakari (FR) 10 10, 63
Frenchman's Creek 10 9, 62
Iznogoud (FR) 10 9, 61
Polar Red 10 8, 60
Double Honour (FR) 10 8, 59
Forest Gunner 10 7, 58
Colnel Rayburn (IRE) 10 7, 57
Just In Debt (IRE) 10 7, 56
Spot Thedifference (IRE) 10 7, 55
Innox (FR) 10 6, 54
Strong Resolve (IRE) 10 6, 53
Shamawan (IRE) 10 6, 52
Lord Atterbury (IRE) 10 6, 51
Europa 10 6, 50
Merchants Friend (IRE) 10 6, 49
Simply Gifted 10 6, 48
Arctic Copper (IRE) 10 6, 47
Turnium (FR) 10 6, 46
Hunters Tweed 10 6, 45
Marcus du Berlais (FR) 10 5, 44
L'Aventure (FR) 10 5, 43
Native Emperor 10 5, 42
A Piece of Cake (IRE) 10 5, 41
Garvivonnian (IRE) 10 4, 40
Longshanks 10 4, 39
Present Bleu (FR) 10 4, 38
Supreme Glory (IRE) 10 4, 37
Wild Tempo (FR) 10 4, 36
Smarty (IRE) 10 4, 35
Historic (IRE) 10 3, 34
Swansea Bay 10 3, 33
Gunner Welburn 10 3, 32
Davids Lad (IRE) 10 3, 31
Artic Jack (FR) 10 2, 30
Cassia Heights 10 2, 29
Rand (NZ) 10 1, 28
Be My Royal (IRE) 10 1, 27
Kymandjen (IRE) 10 0, 26
Over The First (IRE) 10 0, 25
Juveigneur (FR) 9 13, 24
Royal Atalza (FR) 9 12, 23
Whereareyounow (IRE) 9 11, 22
Be My Better Half (IRE) 9 11, 21
World Wide Web (IRE) 9 11, 20
Multeen River (IRE) 9 11, 19
Heart Midoltian (FR) 9 11, 18
You're Special (USA) 9 10, 17
Itsonlyme (IRE) 9 10, 16
This Is Serious (IRE) 9 10, 15
Montreal (FR) 9 10, 14
Jack High (IRE) 9 9, 13
Spring Margot (FR) 9 9, 12
Latitude (FR) 9 9, 11
Mini Sensation (IRE) 9 6, 10
Bright Approach (IRE) 9 5, 9
Hersov (IRE) 9 3, 8
Sherkin Island (IRE) 9 2, 7
Dark Room (IRE) 9 1, 6
Majed (FR) 9 0, 5
Boy's Hurrah (IRE) 8 12, 4
Farinel 8 11, 3
Only Once 8 9, 2
Toulouse-Lautrec (IRE) 8 8, 1



Following a dry morning on Tuesday, the official going on the John Smith’s Grand National course has changed to

GOOD - GOOD TO SOFT in places,

while on both the Mildmay and Hurdle courses it is now


Only half a millimetre of rain fell overnight, and Aintree clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch, who walked the track at lunchtime, was upbeat about the state of the ground.

Tulloch said: “It has dried out well, and now we can only wait and see how much rain we get.

“Rain is forecast to arrive after midnight tonight (Tuesday), and they are talking about anything up to a quarter of an inch.

“However, it is expected to clear away early on Wednesday morning, with the forecast for the afternoon being predominately dry and just the possibility of a shower or two.

“Thursday is looking as if it might get a little cooler, and we could also get a few showers.”


There are 85 horses going forward after yesterday’s (Monday, April 4) five-day stage for the £700,000 John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

With Grey Abbey and Sir Rembrandt dropping out, the new top-weight on 11st 12lb is Le Coudray, with the weights all having risen by 3lb.

The maximum number of horses allowed to run in the world’s most famous chase is 40, which means that the bottom one guaranteed to get in the race at the moment is Simply Gifted on 10st 6lb.

Welsh National runner-up Strong Resolve needs one to come out, while the much-fancied Longshanks, who has also been declared for Thursday’s John Smith’s Topham Trophy, needs seven to drop out to secure a place in Saturday’s big-race line-up. This is according to current numerical order but any eliminations will be made by the horses' official handicap marks at the 48-hour declaration stage - the latest handicap marks will be known tomorrow.

At the corresponding stage 12 months ago, there were 61 still in the Grand National, and Charles Barnett, managing director at Aintree, is “delighted” with the trainers’ reaction.

He said: “What is particularly pleasing is that every horse that goes to post on Saturday in the John Smith’s Grand National will be in the handicap proper, which is testimony to the quality of the race.”

Absentees include Martin Pipe’s Seebald and Jurancon II, the Irish-trained Rince Ri, Timbera and Alexander Banquet, and Francois Doumen’s Kelami, whose owner, John Halewood, will now rely on last year’s winner Amberlegh House.

JP McManus, who owns Le Coudray, also has the second highest in the weights in First Gold (11st 11lb), and the Irish millionaire’s possibles still include Risk Accessor, Clan Royal, Spot Thedifference, Shamawan, Innox, World Wide Web, Be My Better Half, Multeen River, Mini Sensation, Sharkin Island, Dark Room and Farinel.


Class A, Grade 3, Handicap Chase, Total Prize Fund £700,000. 3.45pm, Aintree, Saturday, April 9, 2005. Four miles and four furlongs (over the Grand National course). For 6-y-o and upwards which are allotted a rating of 110 or more by the Senior BHB NH Handicapper following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 6. Horses, which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at January 26, may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible for a weight providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse's racecourse performances to February 6 would merit a minimum rating of 110. The bottom-weighted horse, Toulouse-Lautrec, is rated 109. To qualify horses must have run at least three times in Steeple Chases run under the Rules of Racing of the same Recognised Turf Authority up to and including February 6. At the Handicapper's discretion such horses may be allocated a rating. The decision of the Senior BHB NH Handicapper shall be final. Entries closed January 26, entries revealed January 27 (152 entries), first forfeit stage February 22 (130 remained), second forfeit stage March 22 (107 remain), five-day confirmation stage April 4 (85 remain - weights raised 3lb), final declaration stage 10.00am, April 7. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Sunday, April 3. May not include some overseas form.

Form Horse Age/Wt Owner Trainer/Probable Jockey
F4/422F-0P LE COUDRAY (FR) 11-11-12 J P McManus Christy Roche IRE/
52-3052P FIRST GOLD (FR) 12-11-11 J P McManus Francois Doumen FR/
302-132334 ROYAL AUCLAIR (FR) 8-11-10 Clive Smith Paul Nicholls/Christian Williams
0004-3F00 MONTY'S PASS (IRE) 12-11-06 Dee Racing Syndicate Jimmy Mangan IRE/Barry Geraghty
34F-0002 FONDMORT (FR) 9-11-06 Bill Brown Nicky Henderson/
126PF32 TAKE THE STAND (IRE) 9-11-05 The Courters Peter Bowen/
1112P-25P0 BALLYCASSIDY (IRE) 9-11-05 Roddy Owen & Paul Fullagar Peter Bowen/Seamus Durack
P4P/21-U42P BALLYBOUGH RASHER (IRE) 10-11-04 B D R Partnership Howard Johnson/Alan Dempsey
232120F RISK ACCESSOR (IRE) 10-11-04J P McManus Christy Roche IRE/
216F-56 BINDAREE (IRE) 11-11-03 Raymond Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies/Carl Llewellyn
P51-04540 AMBERLEIGH HOUSE (IRE) 13-11-03 Halewood International Ltd Ginger McCain/Graham Lee
1F-024061 HEDGEHUNTER (IRE) 9-11-01 Trevor Hemmings Willie Mullins IRE/Ruby Walsh
0/P3010-122 FOLY PLEASANT (FR) 11-11-00 Nick Shutts Karen Marks/
43-0450P00 ASTONVILLE (FR) 11-10-13 Fergus Wilson Michael Scudamore/
1/66F-540 AD HOC (IRE) 11-10-12 Sir Robert Ogden Paul Nicholls/Joe Tizzard
31111//-51P HEROS COLLONGES (FR) 10-10-11 John Hales Paul Nicholls/
00-460343 GLENELLY GALE (IRE) 11-10-11 Frank Bradley Arthur Moore IRE/Mr Tom Greenall
5P-554310 IT TAKES TIME (IRE) 11-10-11 David Johnson Martin Pipe/
411/12-4 CLAN ROYAL (FR) 10-10-11 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill/Tony McCoy
13-4P5S341 NIL DESPERANDUM (IRE) 8-10-11 Mike Shone Frances Crowley IRE/Jim Culloty
1P-23PP4 LORD NOELIE (IRE) 12-10-10 Executive Racing Bridget Nicholls/
15F-0541P JOLY BEY (FR) 8-10-10 David Dunsdon Nick Gifford/Mr David Dunsdon
115103-05 JAKARI (FR) 8-10-10 The Earl Cadogan Henry Daly/Richard Johnson
13//-3P340 FRENCHMAN'S CREEK 11-10-09 Rory Sweet & Panda Christie Hughie Morrison/
P132F6-020 IZNOGOUD (FR) 9-10-09 County Stores & Avalon Surfacing Martin Pipe /
31-120500 POLAR RED 8-10-08 Lady Clarke Martin Pipe/
1354432 DOUBLE HONOUR (FR) 7-10-08 The 4th Middleham Partnership Philip Hobbs/Paddy Brennan
12/315-11 FOREST GUNNER 11-10-07 John Gilsenan Richard Ford/Carrie Ford
41F-1P235 COLNEL RAYBURN (IRE) 9-10-07 Thatch (Ferns) Racing Syndicate Paul Nolan IRE/
1UP-012P JUST IN DEBT (IRE) 9-10-07 Bill Hazeldean Martin Todhunter/Tony Dobbin
55-101141 SPOT THEDIFFERENCE (IRE) 12-10-07 J P McManus Enda Bolger IRE/ Mr J T McNamara
F132/5-4 SHAMAWAN (IRE) 10-10-06 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill/
11/1P3-44 LORD ATTERBURY (IRE) 9-10-06 David Johnson Martin Pipe/Timmy Murphy
62-4120P0 TURNIUM (FR) 10-10-06 Fergus Wilson Michael Scudamore/
6603021 INNOX (FR) 9-10-06 J P McManus Francois Doumen FR/Robert Thornton
0P133F0B EUROPA 9-10-06 Trevor Hemmings Ferdy Murphy/
2P-3P1P0 MERCHANTS FRIEND (IRE) 10-10-06 Magic Moments Charlie Mann/
4-60200 ARCTIC COPPER (IRE) 11-10-06 Grand Alliance Racing Club Noel Meade IRE/Paul Carberry
21PP0-2P6P HUNTERS TWEED 9-10-06 Trevor Hemmings Peter Beaumont/Russ Garritty
U41-05443 SIMPLY GIFTED 10-10-06 Steve Hammond Jonjo O'Neill/
4621122 STRONG RESOLVE (IRE) 9-10-06 Fair City Flyers Lucinda Russell/Peter Buchanan
11024644 L'AVENTURE (FR) 6-10-05 Chris Harriman Paul Nicholls/Bobby McNally
22-00310 MARCUS DU BERLAIS (FR) 8-10-05 Marcus Beresford Arthur Moore IRE/
121P-05P NATIVE EMPEROR 9-10-05 J C, J R and S R Hitchins Jonjo O'Neill/
1U11/54-6 A PIECE OF CAKE (IRE) 12-10-05 Lightbody Celebration Cakes Ltd Jim Goldie/Richard McGrath
P502/-0P SUPREME GLORY (IRE) 12-10-04 Chris Moorsom Pat Murphy/Leighton Aspell
1132-2P1 LONGSHANKS 8-10-04 Alan Halsall Kim Bailey/J P McNamara
065-2360 SMARTY (IRE) 12-10-04 Tracey Brown Mark Pitman/
504206 UP WILD TEMPO (FR) 10-10-04 Fergus Wilson Michael Scudamore/
4P-0456P PRESENT BLEU (FR) 10-10-04 Fergus Wilson Michael Scudamore/
046100F3P GARVIVONNIAN (IRE) 10-10-04 Mrs A Long Ned Mitchell IRE/
P1P-53523 GUNNER WELBURN 13-10-03 William Ritson/David Hall/R D Ellis Andrew Balding/
15300040 DAVIDS LAD (IRE) 11-10-03 Eddie Joe's Racing Syndicate Tony Martin IRE/
151-01P0 HISTORIC (IRE) 9-10-03 Mrs Robin Rumboll Tom George/
6126000 SWANSEA BAY 9-10-03 Billy Evans Peter Bowen/
FP-P00UP0 ARCTIC JACK (FR) 9-10-02 Trevor Hemmings Sue Smith/
21-0005P CASSIA HEIGHTS 10-10-02 B Ridge & D Hewitt Steve Brookshaw/
1-4P RAND (NZ) 11-10-01 Eamon Cleary Noel Meade IRE/
11D/-3F5P0 BE MY ROYAL (IRE) 11-10-01 Dr David Chapman-Jones Tom George/
12-0F3256 KYMANDJEN (IRE) 8-10-00 Robert Hodgins Paul Nolan IRE/
443F064 OVER THE FIRST (IRE) 10-10-00 Trotters Ind Trading Syndicate Charlie Swan IRE/
F315221 JUVEIGNEUR (FR) 8-9-13 Trevor Hemmings Nicky Henderson/
PP-36P335 ROYAL ATALZA (FR) 8-9-12 Terry Ramsden Geoff Huffer/Paul Moloney
100F2-60100 WHEREAREYOUNOW (IRE) 8-9-11 Raymond Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies/
0/121P-0U WORLD WIDE WEB (IRE) 9-9-11 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill/
50UF-PPP HEART MIDOLTIAN (FR) 8-9-11 Mrs Seamus Neville Martin Pipe/
33F-221P BE MY BETTER HALF(IRE) 10-9-11 J P McManus Arthur Moore IRE/
40-1S410 MULTEEN RIVER (IRE) 9-9-11 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill/
222-315 YOU'RE SPECIAL (USA) 8-9-10 Les Buckley Patrick Haslam/
6PPP-P1PP ITSONLYME (IRE) 12-9-10 Mel Davies Venetia Williams/
11P//3P-000UP THIS IS SERIOUS (IRE) 11-9-10 Granit City Syndicate Charlie Swan IRE/
063P6P0 MONTREAL (FR) 8-9-10 David Johnson Martin Pipe/
F-30140462 JACK HIGH (IRE) 10-9-09 Brenda Ross Ted Walsh IRE/
611-33F0F3 LATITUDE (FR) 6-9-09 Neil Edwards Martin Pipe/
11P//-154U2 SPRING MARGOT (FR) 9-9-09 Sir Robert Ogden Paul Nicholls/
0P-F061 MINI SENSATION (IRE) 12-9-06 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill/
5332600 BRIGHT APPROACH (IRE) 12-9-05 John Burbidge Grant Cann/Tom Malone
0P-PP02065 HERSOV (IRE) 9-9-03 Sin Sceal Eile Syndicate Paul Roche IRE/
110-156 SHERKIN ISLAND (IRE) 7-9-02 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill/
10PF-P40 DARK ROOM (IRE) 8-9-01 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill/
22P-21540 MAJED (FR) 9-9-00 Lucy Normile Lucy Normile/
P-62211F2 BOY'S HURRAH (IRE) 9-8-12 Woolpack Farm Partnership Howard Johnson/
4000U54 FARINEL 9-8-11 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill/
11/2P-43P23P ONLY ONCE 10-8-09 Group Captain John Prideaux Howard Johnson/
P2P-1215212 TOULOUSE-LAUTREC (IRE) 9-8-08 John French Tom George/

85 entries remain at the five-day confirmation stage Monday, April 4, 2005
The following 22 horses came out at today’s five-day confirmation stage:


With virtually no rain on Sunday night and a dry day on Monday, the ground at Aintree, where the John Smith’s Grand National meeting starts on Thursday, dried out slightly on Monday.

Clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch, having walked around with Jockey Club inspectors and former jockeys Ron Barry and Peter Hobbs at noon on Monday, described the Aintree turf as “in top order” and changed the official going on the Grand National course to

GOOD TO SOFT - GOOD in places,

while on both the Mildmay and Hurdles courses it is now described as

GOOD - GOOD TO SOFT in places.

Tulloch said on Monday: “The forecast for the week is showers with spells of sunshine, with the possibility of longer periods of rain on Tuesday and early Wednesday.”

However, the Met Office predict that the rain will give way to occasional showers in the second half of Wednesday, and that the meeting could well start on Thursday with sunny spells, and Friday, which features the hugely popular ‘Best Dressed Racegoer’ award, should be dry and sunny.


Charles Barnett, managing director at Aintree, revealed that the groundstaff will be moving the bends on the Mildmay and Hurdle courses on Thursday and Friday evenings and also re-positioning the hurdles to make sure the best possible ground is utilised each day.

He said: "The plan is also for course repairers to be on the Grand National course immediately the horses have crossed the Melling Road after the Foxhunters and Topham Trophy, so we are leaving nothing to chance."


Trainer Nicky Henderson has changed his mind and now favours running Fondmort in the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

Fondmort, runner-up to Thisthatandtother after an epic duel up the hill in the Daily Telegraph Trophy at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, is likely to head for the big one rather than aiming for the Betfair Bowl or John Smith’s Melling Chase as had been indicated last week.

Explaining his U-Turn, Henderson said: “We will keep our options open with one eye on the weather, but the National is Plan A.

“We schooled Fondmort over one of our Aintree-type fences on Sunday, and he jumped well, so, having consulted Mick Fitzgerald and owner Bill Brown, we have decided that if the ground does not get too soft we will go for gold.

“My gut reaction was to go for the two and a half-miler (John Smith’s Melling Chase), but, being realistic we’d be chasing round Moscow Flyer, and I didn’t fancy that too much.

“Fondmort is in very good order and is so well in himself and, though you have to go back to Gay Trip to find the last two and a half specialist to win the race, both Classified and The Tsarevich did us proud, and Fondmort is so relaxed that he gives himself every chance of getting the trip.”


There will be a one-minute silence at Aintree on Friday as a mark of respect for Pope John Paul II, who died on Saturday. It will take place at 1.45pm, before the first of the seven scheduled races which is due off at 2pm.


A total of 15 three-year-olds have been entered at yesterday’s five-day stage for the Littlewoods Bet Direct International Trial Stakes at Lingfield Park on Saturday with £40,000 total prize money.

Those entered in the Listed mile contest include the Clive Brittain-trained Party Boss, winner of his last five starts, including most recently the Listed Betdirect.co.uk Spring Cup at Lingfield on March 19. The Silver Patriarch colt is set to bid for classic glory in the Ultimatepoker.com 2000 Guineas at Newmarket if successful on Saturday.

The David Flood-trained Coeur Courageux, nine-length winner of a maiden at Lingfield last month, is another who could use Saturday's race as a stepping stone to the Ultimatepoker.com 2000 Guineas.

John Gosden's pair Mystical Land, runner-up in last season's Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury, and the progressive Eqdaam add further spice to the contest while Brecon Beacon, a three-time winner for trainer Paul Cole and the Elite Racing Club last year, is another entered.

Trainer Richard Hannon has entered Aguille, who shaped with real promise when third on his debut at Doncaster on Friday, and Baltic Dip, who finished a good fifth in the Listed Masaka Stakes at Kempton on March 26.

The filly is owned by Thurloe Thoroughbreds, whose racing manager James Stafford said today: "I've just spoken to Richard Hannon and Baltic Dip is probably going to run at Lingfield on Saturday with Richard Hughes riding again. She was running on at Kempton and was very hairy in her coat that day. The race has done her the world of good - she's come on a lot for it.

"She moves very well but we're not quite sure what her actual trip is. Richard Hughes says to keep to a mile because she has no much pace but sometimes it looks as if she might just need further."

Brian Meehan, who has won the last two runnings of the Littlewoods Bet Direct International Trial Stakes with Leitrim House (2004) and Buy The Sport (2003), is represented this year by Borthwick Girl, who finished third in a three-way photo for the Masaka Stakes last time out.

Racegoers at Lingfield on Saturday will be able to watch the Grand National on the big screen and the full-colour racecard will also include the Grand National runners and riders. There is one enclosure at Lingfield on Saturday, giving everybody access to the course's recently-opened £6-million new facilities. Admission costs just £14.


GM Ireland, the parent company of Opel and the Opel Dealers of Ireland, will sponsor the Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival on Friday, 29th April, and it will now be known as the Opel Novice Hurdle.

With prize money of 30,000 euros, the two-mile Opel Novice Hurdle will be run on Ladies' Day which is traditionally one of the biggest social and sporting dates on the Irish Racing Calendar.

This is the first time that Opel have become involved in horseracing sponsorship and it will feature the latest addition to their range of cars, the Astra Sport Hatch.

Announcing the sponsorship, Dave Sheeran, Managing Director, GM Ireland, said: "Punchestown provides Opel with a perfect marketing platform for the latest additions to our new range, especially the Astra Sport Hatch, and we look forward to developing our involvement in the Punchestown Festival."

Manager of Punchestown, Dick O'Sullivan, said they were delighted to welcome Opel as the newest sponsor to the Festival and he was confident that they would benefit substantially from their investment in the Opel Novice Hurdle.

The Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown will run from Tuesday, April 26th, to Friday, April 29th, and is expected to attract an attendance in the region of 80,000 visitors during the four days, of which 16,000 will be corporate guests.

At The Races signs new distribution deal with ntl Ireland

April 4th, 2005 (London, UK) At The Races and ntl Ireland have entered a new agreement for carriage on ntl's digital television pack. The agreement is effective from today and ATR is now available to over 95,500 ntl digital subscribers and to new customers who sign up to its digital TV pack.

At The Races broadcasts live action from the UK, Ireland, North America, France, Germany, Dubai and Australia and is available to over 10 million homes in Ireland and the UK. Coverage in 2005 includes action from all 27 Irish racecourses.

Matthew Imi, Chief Executive of At the Races, said: "We are very pleased to have agreed terms with ntl Ireland and look forward to working with them to market our channel to their growing digital subscriber base. This agreement is entirely consistent with our strategy of making British and Irish horseracing accessible to as wide an audience as possible and we are particularly happy that ntl Ireland digital subscribers will now be able to see live coverage from at least 250 Irish race meetings a year as well as the 54% of meetings we broadcast from the UK fixture list."

Mark Mohan, Marketing & Sales Director of ntl Ireland, said: "The inclusion of At The Races as part of our Digital TV service at no extra retail charge signals our commitment to providing value added and top quality programming. We will continue to enhance our product line-up at every opportunity. We are sure that our customers will appreciate the terrific selection of live action from well-known racecourses around Ireland, the UK, North America and elsewhere on ATR."

At The Races is scheduled to broadcast from over 727 UK race meetings in 2005, including the relocated Royal Ascot meeting at York. As well as providing coverage from its 28 partner racecourses in the UK, ATR will broadcast from each of the 27 Irish racecourses in 2005. These include: Ballinrobe, Bellewstown, Clonmel, Cork, Curragh, Down Royal, Leopardstown, Limerick, Listowel, Naas, Navan, Punchestown, Roscommon, Sligo, Thurles, Tipperary, Tralee, Tramore and Wexford. Live US racing will be shown every night and additional content will be broadcast from select race meetings in France, Dubai, Germany and Australia.

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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