Droylsden v Oxford City, Blue Sq Conference North,Saturday 20th April 2013

The penultimate match of the season here and the last home match for Droylsden who have already been relegated from this division and will spend next season in the Evo Stick Premier with a derby against Ashton United being the main rival fixture in this league and should FC Utd miss out on the play offs then they will be big rivals too. 

 
The visitors today were Oxford City who for some logistical reason play in the North section which isn’t ideal when you have to go places like Boston in Lincolnshire and Workington in Cumbria but on the flip side they do have local derbies against Worcester City,Gloucester and Solihull Moors. 
 
Oxford like Manchester have plenty in common, they have two football teams who end in the names of City and United,both have well known Universities,both have good quality breweries but Oxford always seem to make the final of the boat race every year, I think having good course and distance form helps them a lot! 
 
This was Oxford City’s last away match and in true style many of the away fans were in fancy dress mainly as video game and cartoon characters which was nice to see on what was a fairly sunny afternoon in this area of East Manchester about less than four miles on the very efficient Metrolink trams which passes that Manchester club that play in light blue in a ground I will never set foot in and for me the only two excellent sporting performance in that stadium was when Paula Radcliffe won the 2002 Commonwealth Games 5000m Gold and when Michael Owen scored the winner in a Manchester Derby. 
 
The ground is small but does have the usual facilities such as a clubhouse and tea hut but the main stand is impressive with good seating as I sat next to the press box and media area which only had one person covering it from BBC Radio Oxford, maybe they should let bloggers use them so people attending think that the game is being covered by a good amount of media. 
 
One good thing about where I was sat was the fact I had about five pensioners sat in the row below me and one was using the old method of watching the game while listening to his little radio so was announcing the scores as they went on, Who needs Jeff Stelling! 
 
The match itself was a resounding 3-1 win for Oxford City, to begin with the home side took the lead on 17 minutes when a player on the team sheet called L Gallagher scored with a beautiful strike from about thirty yards out which flowed through the air and the Oxford keeper was unable to stop it to give Droylsden the advantage, turns out this was Luke Gallagher who is on loan from Burnley who held Cardiff 1-1 in the lunch time kick off
 
The home side played some good football, when ever they went to long ball the possession was lost very easily but then when switching to passing football like Barcelona they moved about a lot better and were finding players very easily so it was annoying whenever they reverted to hoofing it down field. 
 
Oxford came close to a leveller twice when heading wide after a corner and then when their striker Jamie Cook was in on goal only to go over the keeper but the referee gave no penalty. 
 
The equaliser finally arrived on 33 minutes when Cook struck a lovely ball over the Droylsden keeper to bring it to 1-1 
 
This gave the key to the door for Oxford City who continued to press and just four minutes later Steve Basham put the visitors infront after a defensive error from the home side let in Cook who passed across to Basham who had an easy finish to give City the lead. 
 
It was nearly three before half time for Oxford as Chris Wilmott went on a long run down field with the ball and getting into the area passes across to winger Basham who could not get a shot on goal, this prompted a quick counter from Droylsden who were unlucky not to equalise from a long range attempt by left back Lee McEvilly who had his shot saved.  
 
Half time came and went with the traditional comfort break before taking in a tea and pie then the second half commenced. 
 
The second half came and to begin with the most of the early play was in the middle of the park Droylsden had a free kick outside the box after about the 55-60 minutes when a layed off pass brought in a shot which rattled the cross bar much to the surprise of the crowd who were all amazed to see what seemed a well rehearsed training ground move almost come off. 
 
You could see why Droylsden have the second worst defence in this league with many defensive mistakes letting in Oxford who failed to capitalised on plenty of occasions but they managed to bag a third goal on 66 minutes when Felipe Barcelos who according to the match day programme has been catching the attention of Fulham and Reading when getting the better of the home defence to pop in a very easy goal, This young Brazilian has plenty of pace and will no doubt be plying his trade in a much higher league than this,no doubt Oxford City will be hoping for a good fee for him given as it will help them take their club up to the next level. 
 
Oxford could have added a fourth from Barcelos when in a 1 on 1 with the keeper it but his shot went over much to the relief of the home fans,Droylsden had a few more attempts to get back in but it simply not their day today as the ref blew the final whistle. 
 
So the last home game for Droylsden who finish their season next Saturday away at Altrincham so a nice couple of tram rides for the away fans for that one then next season they will begin the assault back in the Evo Stick Premier, as for the Conference North the addition of Stockport County will be interesting to see as they got relegated from the main Conference and they will be favourites to win this division you would think but funny things do happen in football. 
 
Full Time Droylsden 1 Oxford City 3
 
Attendance 166
 

Aintree Grand National Meeting Day Two,Friday 5th April 2013

Ladies Day today which as expected brought out the crowds in their outfits of various colours,sizes and shapes all with inappropriate high heel shoes which surely can’t last being worn for six to eight hours and as expected they didn’t as many women resorted to getting their free pair of flip flops to make walking much more easier, no worries here with my comfy hush puppies that have stood me in good stead over the years. 

 
Seven races on today’s card with the feature races being the Topham Chase over the National fences and the race everyone was talking about the Melling Chase which saw Sprinter Sacre taking on 2m4f for the first time in his chasing career. 
 
2.00 The Rose Appeal Supports Alder Hey Top Novices Hurdle 2m 110 yards 9 flights
 
Just four turned out for this Grade Two, it would have been five but Art of Logistics was a non runner but its fair to say a lot of them were scared of by My Tent or Yours from trainer Nicky Henderson who went off the 4-11f and won as an odds on shot should, held up off the pace he took the lead and had this in the bag before the second last flight and kept his top class form up after his recent second at the Cheltenham Festival and he now goes into his summer holiday with next seasons Champion Hurdle being his main target and you would have to put him in the shortlist for that. 
 
Back in second was Forgotten Voice again from the Henderson yard who is 8 and will be probably end up in top handicaps while back in third was Zuider Zee who will be a lot better over further next season and this was only his third start and has plenty good races left in him yet. 
 
2.30 The John Smiths Mildmay Novices Chase 3m1f 19 fences
 
This was a Grade Two event and it was a back to winning ways for Dynaste who was back up in trip after finding the 2m5f at Cheltenham on the sharp side. 
 
The early pace was good with Super Duty setting the early running and despite being given a few reminders he was in contention until three out when the maiden chaser Third Intention took over but he was overtaken at the last by Dynaste who went on to record a 6 length victory with joint favourite Rocky Creek a bit one paced back in third. 
 
Dynaste is a lovely grey horse who jumps his fences and travels well in his races, he will no doubt be aimed at the Gold Cup next year should he keep his form and not go the same way that stablemate Grand Crus has this season. 
 
Third Intention could be ideally suited by a test of stamina and the Welsh National may be the making of him and Rocky Creek is better suited with softer ground and should not be written off after this run. 
 
The disappointment was Sea of Thunder who was pulled up before the seventh and can do better than this. 
 
3.05 The John Smiths Melling Chase 2m4f
 
The Grade One which was billed as the race of the season was won as expected by the red hot jumping star Sprinter Sacre who was given a patient ride to begin with by Barry Geraghty and got the extra half mile without breaking sweat, as expected Cue Card and Flemenstar made the running, For Non Stop was always struggling in this company while Mad Moose decided to have the day off and planted himself at the start. 
 
In the end Sprinter Sacre beat Cue Card by 4.5 lengths and was not put of second gear he won with such authority and connections will no doubt be tempted by a crack at the King George on Boxing Day but you would imagine they will go Cheltenham in November,Tingle Creek,Clarence House,Game Spirit,Queen Mother and Melling Chase as the plan, as a horse to watch he is amazing and jumps wonderfully well and is a real star. 
 
Cue Card and Flemenstar are top horses in their own right but simply could not live with the winner, it was like Manchester United being walloped 5-0 by Barcelona but they will be winning again over 2m4f providing SS doesn’t give them anymore punishment. 
 
3.40 The John Smiths Topham Chase (Handicap) 2m5f 110 yard, 18 fences 
 
A Grade Three over the National fences and just the twenty nine in this which was dogged by controversy, at the beginning their was two false starts, bit worrying as this also happened in the 1993 National, the stewards did do an enquiry and apart from Ruby Walsh,Tom O’Brien and Brian Harding the rest of the jockeys all got a one day ban for anticipating the start so expect a few conditionals to get a chance as a shortage will soon be appearing. 
 
The other sad event was the loss of Little Josh aged 11 who sadly had to be put down after a nasty fall at the fourth last and fracturing a shoulder, my sympathies to the owner Mr Tony Bloom and the stable of Nigel Twiston Davies. 
 
At the business end it was another winner for Nicky Henderson as Triolo D’Alene bounced back to form on this much sounder surface to overpower long time leader Dunowen Point who finished fourth with second and third going to Walkon and Last Time D’Albain. 
 
The winner seems a tricky horse to place but he’s only six and can find improvement,the eye catcher for me was Dunowen Point who ran much better after his recent run at Chepstow and before was second at Wetherby in February behind the progressive Cloudy Too, he is only seven and should be back in December with a try in the Grand Sefton and could end up a Grand National horse later on in time. 
 
4.15 The John Smiths Sefton Novices Hurdle, 3m 110 yards, 13 flights
 
Another Grade One race here and this prize went to Wales and the stables of Rebecca Curtis with her star horse At Fishers Cross who strolled home in effortless style to give AP McCoy his second winner of the day. 
 
The early running was cut out by Gevrey Chambertin who led turning for home but doesn’t seem to stay three miles and will be better over two and a half which is the distance he has won two of his races but he could possibly be aimed for the fixed brush hurdle at Haydock in November which the Pipe yard has won before with Grand Crus and Dynaste. 
 
At Fishers Cross is a blummin good horse and will be a serious proposition In the staying hurdle division next season and with Big Buck’s coming back from injury he may not be the same horse and throw Zarkander into the equation the staying hurdle league could be an interesting set of races to watch. 
 
Back in second was Just a Par from the Nicholls stable who stayed on and if he goes novice chasing shall be a good horse to follow as he is a chaser in the making. 
 
4.50 The John Smiths Daily Mirror Punters Club Handicap Hurdle, 2m4f,11 flights
 
A very competitive hurdle on paper for this Listed contest but this was turned into a procession by the 6yo Minella Forfitness to give Nicky Henderson a hat trick on the day and this horse his third win in a row and the step up in trip benefitted him even more plus the weight of 10st 3lbs was an absolute featherweight and he has lots of improvement in him and may be turned out again depending what the handicapper does. 
 
Clerks Choice put in a PB back in second but is still a tricky customer to win with while favourite Meister Eckhart kept on on third but needs to settle better in his races. 
 
Back in fifth was the Martin Pipe winner Salubrious who stayed on into fifth but maybe better suited by three miles and could be their is a nice race over that trip at Haydock over that trip in May. 
 
5.25 The John Smiths Mares Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, 2m1f
 
The last race on Ladies day was for the Mares and despite being trained in Ireland it was a third consecutive win in England for Legacy Gold who has victories at Catterick and Sedgefield to her name and after being held up early made good headway and took up the running in the straight to go on over two furlongs out and fought off the challenge from Cailin Annamh under jockey change AP McCoy to win by 4l 
 
The winner may only have won at two small courses over here but the form was very good, the Sedgefield win had Runswick Royal back in second and of course he ran a cracker in yesterday’s 4yo hurdle so off that bit of form Legacy Gold will be one to follow when she eventually goes over timber as she is a serious prospect and will be a top novice hurdler. 
 
A good few of these ran in the big DBS Mares Bumper at Sandown and the best of these to get placed was Carole’s Spirit who ran into third and has plenty of ability. 
 
So another good two days of racing at Aintree and we were treated to some excellent racing with the highlight of course being Sprinter Sacre who showed why he is currently the best jumps horse in training and for all of us fans we want summer to go quickly and the winter months to reappear so we can see this amazing steeplechaser strut his stuff back on the course. 
 
With the good parts of racing we also have the bad side and two deaths have occurred in races over the National fences but we must not jump the gun and overreact about this although sadly their will be various media outlets who are no doubt chomping at the bit with this and doing their best to spoil this wonderful sport. 
 
Of course deaths do occur in equine sports, not just racing but eventing,polo,carriage driving and out in the fields when turned out no doubt claim horses lives, Last year former festival winner Brindisi Breeze escaped and sadly got hit when galloping loose and killed by a tanker which was much worse than the way some horses have lost their lives on the track. 
 
I do hope all tomorrow’s horses come back safe and sound but having been their myself the past two days I can 100% say that the level of veterinary care given is the best that you will ever see at a race meeting like this as is the medical care for riders. 
 
For me its been two excellent days of jumps racing and this is probably my last full jumps meeting of the season, next up racing wise will be Hamilton on the flat in early May and in the meantime I hope to report from local rugby or football. 
 
Enjoy the Grand National and I hope all your bets turn into winning ones. 

 

Aintree Grand National Meeting Day One,Thursday 4th April 2013

Four Grade Ones,two big field handicaps and a twenty five runner Hunter Chase were the order of the day for day one of this three day jumps bonanza in Merseyside and weather wise it was a mixture of sun with a bit of cold and windy conditions when up in the stands viewing the races. 

 
Today was Aintree Hurdle day which was transferred from Saturday to give it the centrepiece it so richly deserves and the 2013 running was a race which on paper looked as good and as strong as ever, crowd wise over 30,000 turned up and what a treat for the faithful national hunt die hards and the once a year racegoers who give this meeting their main focal point of the year. 
 
Also today was the first day of racing with the new design of fence on the Grand National course which is a make up of the traditional spruce from the Lake District and a new plastic core which replaces the old style timber to give a more forgiving yet respectful fence that hopefully won’t cause damage to any horses or jockeys. 
 
2.00 Matalan Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle 2m 110 yards,9 Flights
 
The first Grade One of the day and a useful renewal of this race albeit with no Our Connor in the line up but this year the geldings where firmly put in their place by the filly L’Unique who gave trainer Alan King his fourth runner in this race with victories in 2007,09,12 and this filly won well,sitting behind the pace set by Irish Saint and went on to hold off the very progressive Runswick Royal who ran a seasonal best on his fourth start over hurdles with Irish Saint back in third and Flaxen Flare in fourth. 
 
The winner could well be targeting the Mares Hurdle next season providing she likes the step up in trip and Runswick Royal may well be Fighting Fifth bound in November as he is trained in Newcastle but before could have a crack at the Swinton Hurdle or maybe the Scottish Summer Champion at Perth in August and Irish Saint could be one to take in the 4yo Chases early in November at Warwick. 
 
2.35 Betfred Bowl Chase 3m1f,19 fences
 
Another Grade One here and a race with many questions such as could Silviniaco Conti bounce back from his Gold Cup fall and will any Festival form hold up in what can often be a real grave yard for favourites
 
As it happened it was Ireland who took this years running just like last year albeit with a horse at a much shorter price in First Lieutenant who helped frank the form for Cue Card tomorrow with a battling victory by overtaking Menorah on the run in after being in second at the last fence hold on with Silviniaco Conti back in third after being held up and probably could have ran better had he been more closer to the pace. 
 
First Lieutenant has kept good form but this was his first win since 2011 and could well be a good type for the Gold Cup next season should he be aimed but will spend most of next season in Ireland no doubt, Menorah is better at 2m4f but ran a lovely race and Silviniaco Conti has probably had enough and will be back next season at Haydock in November. 
 
3.10 The John Smiths Aintree Hurdle 2m4f, 11 flights. 
 
A third Grade One and this race which on paper looked a high quality renewal with horse that ran in the Champion Hurdle doing battle over further and even though only two of the nine runners had won over this trip it was a race to savour for national hunt fans.  
 
The new kid on the block was The New One who won the 2m4f Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham and was having his first crack at dining at the top table but it he went down but not without a fight as Zarkandar fought him tooth and nail up the run in and after making almost all the running to win in what was a titanic battle up the Aintree straight and the sort of finish that makes you realise why you follow this sport in the first place. 
 
Zarkandar had a real race here and this will be it for his season and next year could be taking them on in the 2m4f division where as The New One will probably end up Champion Hurdle bound and will certainly shake them up a bit and will not be out of place in that league. 
 
Thousand Stars was back in third and ran is usual honest and gutsy race, he may well end up at Auteuil in May while Oscar Whisky has done enough to warrant a summer holiday,Countrywide Flame never picked up but he has plenty good races left in him and Raya Star who took a crashing fall got up safely. 
 
3.40 The John Smiths Fox Hunters Chase, 2m5f 110 yards,18 fences. 
 
Just the Twenty Five for this years running and the first chance to see the new fences in action as these amateur riders had their once a year spin over the big greens going at the usual good gallop from when the tapes went up. 
 
Now normally with these big jumps festivals we speak about the battle between England and Ireland but of course nothing is normal in racing and like Foinavon and Mon Mome it was a 100-1 winner but this time over Hadrians Wall and into Scotland as the 13yo veteran and Kelso specialist Tartan Snow rallied on the run in under Jamie Hamilton to defeat Cool Friend after a photo finish for trainer Stuart Coltherd in Selkirk. 
 
Being over the big fences their was a few events, firstly a false start which is nothing new at Aintree with four fallers and one unseated rider but sadly we did suffer the loss of the Ted Walsh trained Battlefront who was pulled up with four to jump and sadly died after suffering a heart attack but this is something that can happen at any race meeting and while it is of course such a shame it occurred and while I offer my commiserations to the owners and connections,the Walsh family themselves are real horse people and know how things like this can happen at any race meeting not just the ones over the Grand National fences. 
 
Cool Friend was unlucky to get beat but is a useful horse albeit a bit in and out while Warner back in fourth is only nine and can do better when going back up to three miles. 
 
Cloudy Lane ran in this as his last last race and has been retired,he was Donald McCains first ever winner at the Cheltenham Festival and deserves to put his hooves up and relax after doing his part for the McCain family. 
 
4.15 The Matalan.co.uk Red Rum Handicap Chase,2m, 12 fences
 
Always a tricky race,they go fast and furious in this and with Cue Card due to line up tomorrow the Colin Tizzards yard warmed up with the veteran 11yo Oiseau de Nui who has been placed three times in this race finally got his name in the number one spot by beating another older horse in the 10yo Tanks for That as a few major players in this race all ran below par, Kie who is only five for the McCain stable was well to the fore and was running an eye catching race. 
 
Its fair to say the winner is in the hey day of his career as is the runner up but Kie ran well up with the pace and will be better over a bit further and allowed to settle a bit more but he remains a horse with a lot more to give. 
 
Favourite Rebel Rebellion found this race a bit to much and was pulled up but he will be back as will Silver Roque who would prefer a much more softer surface than this. 
 
4.50 The Betfred Manifesto Novices Chase,2m4f, 16 fences 
 
The last Grade One on the card was won by Captain Conan who resumed winning ways after his flat run at Cheltenham here and did the job well enough despite idling on the run in to give Nicky Henderson another high quality 2m4f performer for next season, he has jumped well this season with all his wins being Grade One or Two so is a high quality steeplechaser and the only problem now will be where to place him especially is Sprinter Sacre wins the Melling tomorrow afternoon but next season is a long time away and his plan of campaign will be thought out but he is one to keep an eye on next season. 
 
Tap Night ran second and being an Ayr specialist will probably have another run in the Future Champion Novices before being put away but Lucinda Russell has a good warrior here and can fly the flag for Scotland in a lot of the big races next season. 
 
Back in third was Changing Times who will probably end up handicapping next season so will be interesting to see how he gets treated after this. 
 
5.25 The Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle Race, 3m 110 yards, 13 flights
 
Just the twenty one for this race with lots of potential horses for the future in the mix but the younger brigade were given a mighty kicking and they should all be thankful they are geldings because the way in which the winner Battle Group sluiced up if would have hurt them, this eight year old now in the care of Kevin Bishop won this race of a rating of 137 back in 2011 but was down to 131 this afternoon and the change of yard helped as this was his first start and gave Brendan Powell Jr his second winner of the day which takes him to be the top rider at the end of day one. 
 
Jetson who was well fancied from Ireland could not live with the pace of the winner and went down by 10 lengths with First Fandango back in third.  
 
Battle Group may go to Haydock next month for a 3m hurdle as will a few of these probably, of the rest I’d nominate Easter Day who ran on into 7th to go and be a decent novice chaser next season as he won the Sidney Banks Hurdle back in February and has a touch of class about him but probably found the extra half mile a bit too far today.  
 
So a day which promised so much did indeed live up to its billing for day one of this wonderful festival. 
 
The highlights for myself were walking the course before racing and taking some pictures of the fences including Bechers Brook,seeing top class jumps horses do battle and for me getting my photo with Clare Balding who is as lovely away from the camera as she is on it. 
 
Tomorrow is Ladies Day with the main highlight being the triple bill between Sprinter Sacre,Cue Card and Flemenstar in what will be the race of the season.  

 

2013 Grand National Preview

Up in the beautiful setting of the Lake District is an area where the spruce grows that is transported down the M6 for the five races a year run on the famous Grand National course which produces sporting history every year and has done since 1839 when the aptly named Lottery won the first ever running at its current home Aintree albeit with runnings at Gatwick when the two World Wars with Germany got in the way of the fun. 

 
The Grand National meeting is now a three day bonanza of jump racing which follows on three weeks after the Cheltenham Festival, the racing is equally as competitive and the quality of the card has improved year by year to such a degree that for the 2013 meeting the race that everyone is keen to see is not the National itself but the highly anticipated battle between Sprinter Sacre,Cue Card and Flemenstar in the Melling Chase over 2m4f. 
 
I was asked in an interview with a friend of mine about how the class system shows in racing after all it has been commonly known as The Sport of Kings since Adam was a lad and while meetings such as Royal Ascot does have a sort of segregation in place with the Royal Enclosure I can genuinely say that things are different at Aintree, the sport of jumps racing has its roots firmly established from the countryside but at this meeting you see a real coming together of anyone and everyone. 
 
Walking around during the racing you see the richer and more well off in the tweed and funny coloured trousers but you also get the Scousers in their suits and ladies in dresses albeit not made of much material and the high heels which end up being swapped for flip flops after about four races due to novice racegoers not realising you spend about eight hours stood up for the days racing but this is a real sense of everybody in it together and the class barriers are down which makes this meeting what it is, It’s when the town and the countryside unite as one for the love of the sport,the event,the occasion and you can’t help but look and be proud that this is a true British sporting institution. 
 
This years meeting does see a few changes, for a start the television viewers will be tuning into Channel 4 who are going all out to make everyone know this is the only channel for terrestrial coverage of horse racing, many people including myself will be nervous and excited as to what will no doubt we a different style of coverage but anyone who saw the 2012 Paralympics will know that Channel 4 will do a cracking job and treat it with the respect it deserves. 
 
The other main changes include the start going forward by 90 yards which may work but trying to get the jockeys to go slower could potentially back fire with a shorter run to the first fence meaning riders could be more in a hurry to get a good sight at the first, I am more worried about this but jockeys are professional riders and hopefully will use their heads and remember to ride the race and not the occasion but only time will tell. 
 
The last change are the fences themselves, normally the big greens are made with stiff upright timber poles covered with spruce but all of these have now been removed and replaced with a new fixed fence with plastic birch and still covered with spruce so to the once a year viewers they will not notice any changes and to be fair in December at the Becher Chase meeting four of these were trialled and I certainly spotted no difference whatsoever and hopefully while their will still be fallers we all hope nothing bad comes from them. 
 
Each day of the meeting has a different feel to it,for me I only go to the first two days,I have been to a Grand National back in 2001 when Red Marauder was one of only four finishers in what was the most dramatic National since Foinavon in 1967 and since the 2001 running I have watched them all on the TV apart from 2011 when I was at Bangor on Dee but for me this is a race better to watch on the big telly at home
 
Day One is now known as Liverpool Day with four Grade One races including the Aintree Hurdle and the Bowl Steeplechase as the two classiest races on the card but oddly they are mearly the warm up acts as the big race for all those on course is the Aintree Foxhunters over 2m5f 110yards of the Grand National course with the horses ridden by Amateur riders who oddly dont get paid and will get no prize money should they earn it for the owners and it gives us our first sighting of the fences, always a brave,brutal and tough race it is an event to savour as these mighty warriors do battle with the winning jockey joining that elite list of being on the scoresheet of the five races held every year on the National course. 
 
Day Two is Ladies Day which is always a sight in so many ways as the Liverpool ladies go all out to have fun and although its a mixture of high heels,fake tans,outfits that leave little to the imagination and lots of wine mixed in with the fashion show and best dressed competitions the people should also be aware that their is high quality racing on too!
 
The feature races on Ladies Day are the Melling Chase over 2m4f on the quick Mildmay course which always produces a cracking race and as I alluded to earlier the potential coming together of Sprinter Sacre,Cue Card and Flemenstar will make it the race of the whole meeting, the other biggie is the Topham Chase over the same course and distance as the Foxhunters and this gives jockeys a quick chance to get their eye in for the National the following day,always fast and furious it is a good race and with Always Waining going for the National there will be a new name after his winning the previous three renewals. 
 
Grand National Day is one of the iconic days in the sporting and racing calendar and those on course will be treated to a real sight of top class horses and jockeys doing battle over those fearsome fences and going into Aintree folklore, The local betting shops as ever will be full of the once a year punters and no doubt asking the usual daft questions like “What’s Dettori riding?” “How much tax do I pay?”  But it is things like this that make the day what it is and we would be much poorer without it occurring. 
 
The Grand National may be a race which divides opinion, I for one will always defend it as I have grown up with the race and still remember my first ever pick in the race, Durham Edition back in 1988 and being amazed and in awe of Chris Grant as he finished a gallant second in the race which got be hooked on this most beautiful of sports. 
 
As for the 2013 running well it does look as tricky as ever but if I had to give one horse to hopefully give you a nice run for your money then I would suggest Chicago Grey as a worthy each way bet, he fell last year very early but has form over this marathon trip and warmed up with a win at Navan in February so for me he could go well at a big price. 
 
Thank you for reading this, I shall be at Aintree for the Thursday and Friday at the meeting and I know full well come Wednesday I will be going to bed feeling like a kid on Christmas Eve knowing what the presents are and getting more and more irritable to open them!