THREE FACES OF THE GRAND NATIONAL WEIGHTS: As Daqman forecast in his Monday column, the Grand National weights announced yesterday are as controversial as ever:
1️⃣: BLAME The knee-jerk reaction of Gigginstown House Stud boss Michael O’Leary was to rule Tiger Roll out of a treble bid for the second time, claiming his weight is ‘absurd’ for a 12-year-old.
2️⃣: GAME But the Tiger’s astute trainer Gordon Elliott was smiling, and declared that Tiger Roll’s participation depended on how he performed in the Cheltenham cross-country.
3️⃣: VERDICT Daqman’s verdict is that Tiger Roll’s stable is already the winner. With their two top weights holding up the handicap, they have taken control of the race right up to the ‘off’ in a power play of brinkmanship.
The handicapper has been rolled over. And not a lot he could do about it. I warned yesterday morning that he would have problems with the weights for Galvin and Conflated for the Grand National.
In the afternoon he had to announce that the pair, who are Gordon Elliott stablemates, would be joint top-weights off 11st 10lb.
Both are doubtful runners but, as long as they keep their place in the weights, they reduce the burden for a whole battalion of Elliott lightweights from Delta Work 11st 3lb, Run Wild Fred 11st 1lb and Battleoverdoyen 11st down to Mount Ida 10st 13lb; Escaria Ten, Farclas and Samcro 10st 9lb; Coko Beach 10st 7lb; Braeside 10st 5lb; Milan Native 10st 2lb; and Death Duty 10st 1lb.
And Tiger Roll, the 12-year-old dual winner for Elliott when rated 150 and 159, has 11st 4lb off 161.
That’s 6lb higher than his current rating but 5lb lower than when he was last in form, the 18-lengths defeat of Easysland in the Cheltenham Festival cross-country. Easysland is 8lb lower off 159.
The 2021 history–making winner for Rachael Blackmore, Minella Times, is alongside Tiger Roll on 161, which is a harsh rise for Minella of 15lb in the ratings from 10st 3lb to 11st 4lb.
Third last year, Any Second Now, is 7lb higher but an appropriate 8lb better off with the winner for the eight lengths or so he was beaten that day. Burrows Saint, who weakened only on the run-in last year, has been given a 15lb difference to try to avenge the defeat by Minella Times.
On the face of it, Burrows Saint, who jumped really well that day, has the best of the weights for trainer Willie Mullins. A pound behind him is Longhouse Poet.
Mullins has Melon (163) and Franco De Port (161) just outside the winning weight range of National winners in the decade, plus Brahma Bull (157), Ontheropes (152) and Agusta Gold (146) within the range.
But, whether such as Agusta Gold (number 64), get a run depends on withdrawals and how late Gordon Elliott can leave his decision on the two top-weights.
He said last night that Galvin will run at Aintree only if something happened in the Gold Cup. Conflated would also go to Cheltenham, as would Tiger Roll before his National bid.
I would say that my own outsider, Commodore (142), who runs in Saturday’s Haydock Park National Trial, is unlikely to get in. It also looks a tall order for Snow Leopardess (146).
Badly treated is Minella Times (‘I’m surprised at his weight,’ said Henry De Bromhead). Franco De Port, with 3lb more than his current rating, is also punished for a seven-year-old, though Willie Mullins is philosophical, and sees the horse going back to Aintree for several years.
Mount Ida is 4lb higher, but Gordon Elliott says of our Fortune Cookie, backed in this column at 34.0 on BETDAQ: ‘She definitely runs and looks to have a nice weight.’
⭕ 1.00 Wetherby Lambourn trainer Warren Greatrex has booked winner-machine Brian Hughes (158 this season) for his two-horse raid on Wetherby.
Abuffalosoldier (BETDAQ 4.7) should hit target for them in the opener on a hat-trick mission after his form has been heavily franked.
He beat Dancing With Deco in a bumper before that one won over hurdles at Exeter and then gave 7lb and a beating at Wincanton to Plenty of Time who went back there and won nearly 10 lengths early this month.
When Abuffalosoldier beat Plenty of Time, he had a previous winner 17 lengths further back.
There could be dangers lurking in the thicket of 14 runners today (not the least of them Viva Lavilla) but this is a race won seven times in eight seasons by the favourite. Which will it be, Viva or the Soldier?
⭕ 2.05 Wetherby Another hat-trick mission is by Findthetime, also with Brian Hughes up but, since the gelding’s success at Sedgefield and Catterick in much lower grade before Christmas, his yard has struggled with a 7% strike rate.
Her Indoors is a solo traveler for Alan King but has not reproduced her Spring form when winning a juvenile at Cheltenham and has been more at home in mares company. Looks difficult to place.
Dan Skelton doesn’t make it easy for punters, running the long-absent Flash the Steel, a winner the last day but way back, and Shannon Bridge, a CD winner but ‘a bit of a monkey’.
Trainer in form is Jamie Snowden. His stamina-bred Up For Parol (Flemensfirth out of a Westerner mare) was convincing at this level on the soft at Haydock and can be forgiven missing a place in the (Listed) Lanzarote Hurdle last time out.
BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE 3.7 Up For Parol
⭕ 6.30 Kempton Richard Hannon, who won last year’s London Mile series final at Kempton with Tahitian Prince, took the class-4 May qualifier with him and then helped him climb the ladder to the class-2 final.
Here’s Richard today with one for the big pot later on, Lafan, taking in an early qualifier today, another class-4 for one of similar potential.
Lafan is unbeaten in two runs on the course, both victories coming when he’s picked up well to settle the race with a burst of speed, and should improve for his January return to the winner’s enclosure.
Espresso Freddo and Freedom And Wheat finished second and third to Lafan here that day, but Freddo is eight now.
And, though the third put in a sound effort after a long lay-off, his best form has been in class 5 and class 6.
Though I wish his small Trowbridge stable ‘the best of’, I can’t help wondering whether they are aiming a little bit high with the six-year-old.
Unforgiving Minute is now 11 and he, too, looks two grades high on what he’s done. Proclaimer’s sequence also came at a lower level.
Rogue Force, a course winner, has scope but Lafan (Dandy Man out of a Lope De Vega mare) looks just the sort of miler Team Hannon can improve to be a sequence winner.
I’m sure connections are hoping so! They paid 200,000 euros when he was a two-year-old for an 80,000-guineas goal. That he’s had to be gelded means it’s now all about prizemoney to redeem himself.
1.00 Wetherby (win 10)
BET 2.75pts win ABUFFALOSOLDIER
2.05 Wetherby (win 10)
BET 3.75pts win UP FOR PAROL
6.30 Kempton (win 10, nap)
BET 5pts win LAFAN
What are points? Points facilitate a staking plan, which is the secret to creating profit. One point is whatever you choose: a pound, a euro, or whatever ….
Start with a bank and decide how much you can afford to lose over a period of time, and determine the size of your bets accordingly. Daqman makes this variation every day.