Saturday, April 07, 2007
The Cat Grand National: one week to go
With just seven days remaining before the tapes go up for the Brahma beer-sponsored Cat Grand National, clerk of the course Stephen McCormick has warned he may have to start watering if the forecast rain does not arrive in Newmarket.
"It's currently good to firm, puddles in places," said McCormick in an exclusive interview for bhs.com. In between mouthfuls of Smarties easter egg and hot cross buns, the Irishman was busy building fences for the gruelling twice-round-the-yard marathon contest at Beverley House Stables.
Onlookers were stunned as McCormick, having been given a large brown envelope by John Berry, allowed the trainer to school The Evil Genius over the notoriously difficult Becher's Brook-style fence off the loading ramp and, following an impressive leap by the veteran moggy (pictured), his price contracted swiftly on Betfair to 1/5 favourite.
A full list of runners and form guide is printed below. Supplementary entries will be accepted as late as Thursday for a fee of a tube of Smarties. Olly Marsh has kindly donated a bottle of Brazil's favourite beer (yes, you've guessed it) to the groom of the best-turned out feline.
1. The Evil Genius (SP: 1/5)
Trainer: J. Berry
Owner: R. Sims and H. Peterson
Form notes: he may be long in the tooth but this three-time winner of the Purrdubice is a worthy favourite and looks trained to the minute for this event by his shrewd handler.
2. Giant (SP: 3/1)
Trainer: Miss M. Daniels
Owner: O. Marsh
Form notes: The Evil Genius's disciple in the dark arts. She may well win this in years to come but will have her work cut out to topple the favourite on Saturday.
3. Brilliant Star (SP: 12/1)
Trainer: H. Fraser
Owner: The Duke of Albequerque
Form notes: overshadowed by the first two in the betting but an agreeable sort who goes well fresh and has been seen working well on the far side of the yard of late (when chased by Stan). Each-way value.
4. Alamshar (SP: 33/1)
Trainer: J. Oxx (Gifted Man)
Owner: M. McStay and HH The Aga Khan (foal share)
Form notes: beautifully-bred moggy but carrying rather a lot of condition at present and may find this trip too taxing.
5. Hedwig (SP: 100/1)
Trainer: Mrs E. Berry
Owner: Master H. Potter
Form notes: age is not on her side but a recent change of stable may have perked her up. She's been eating very well but is rarely sighted on the gallops.
6. No Name/Beguiledy (SP: 500/1)
Trainer: D. Knights
Owner: P. Walrus
Form notes: rank outsider, has been known to refuse to leave the hayloft. V headshy and awkward.
Stewards' panel: Messrs. R. Rum, D. Loch and H. Hunter