Meath handlers have big hands to play
Anibale Fly and Donagh Meyler en route to winning the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival
It’s the big one. Four of the hardest miles ever in sport. Thirty fences, heavy going, a dogfight to put it mildly. It’s here, the Grand National. Four miles and two and a half furlongs of heart, passion and pride to see who will come home to claim the £500,000 first place prize.
It’s a special day Meath horses with two local trainers having two big hands to play in today’s feature. Tony Martin saddles Anibale Fly, third in this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, and Gavin Cromwell runs the veteran Raz De Maree, this season’s Welsh National hero. Martin’s 8-year-old isnear the head of the betting with a best priced 14/1 going for the mount of Barry Geraghty for owner JP McManus. He has form in big handicap fields when winning the 28 runner Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. He suffered a crashing fall in the Irish Gold Cup but put that behind him when staying on brilliantly to finish third behind Native River in last month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. He’s 9lb well in and should he stay out the testing trip, he’ll be in the thick of the action coming to the last. One who will certainly relish the testing conditions today is Cromwell’s veteran Raz De Maree. The Welsh National hero has 2007 winning jockey Robbie Power in the plate, with the 13 –year-old enjoying some time off since his heroics at Chepstow in January. His jumping is a little bit of a worry having fallen at Becher’s Brook first time last year. He finished the race the previous year in eighth and arrives fresh ready for another go. A right slog in the mud is what he excels at and should he jump like his Welsh National victory, he is one for the shortlist at 25/1.
Colin Tizzard has had a good Aintree festival so far and bids to make it a great one with The Dutchman in the big one. Tizzard has never won the National and feels everything is going right for his 8-year-old.
“He’s definitely the best chance I’ve ever had of winning the National. Everything about him looks right for the race. He’s a stayer, he’s running off the right sort of weight and he jumps well. In fact, when we took him to David Pipe’s place on Friday (6th April) to jump him over the spruce fences he was superb”, said Tizzard last weekend.
He’s another who relishes the heavy ground and the trainer-jockey combination of Tizzard and Harry Cobden have already enjoyed a winner over the National fences at Aintree this week with Ultragold winning the Topham Chase yesterday. He won the Peter Marsh chase by 13 lengths at Haydock in January beating fellow challenger Captain Redbeard into second, he’s well handicapped, will love the ground and is worth a few pound each way at 25/1.
A great day and race in store. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Anibale Fly – 14/1
Raz De Maree – 201
The Dutchman – 25/1