Conditions ideal for Killyglen to give Johnson a timely boost
UNFORTUNATELY, three of my four Aintree Grand National fancies fell last week and therein lies the beauty and frustration of steeplechasing. You can study the cards all night long -- but as they thunder towards Bechers, all your donkeywork can become redundant in seconds.
As Herodotus once said: "The most hateful torment for men is to have knowledge of everything but power over nothing," and that certainly rings true in National Hunt horseracing.
Despite doing my dough, it was impossible not to enjoy the race with Tony McCoy finally getting the monkey off his back. Will the BBC finally see sense and award him the Sports Personality of the Year? He's been champion jockey each and every season since 1995/96 -- which is simply extraordinary.
Just imagine if any other sportsperson or team won their respective championship 14 times in a row and were shunned at the awards ceremony time after time. Not that McCoy is interested in pats on the back, mind you. Ladbrokes are going 6/1 about the Antrim man for the award but considering that many still don't class racing as a mainstream sport, I wouldn't put money on him winning.
Speaking of Grand Nationals, we've the Scottish version to look forward to today and Killyglen could be worth an each-way play priced around 12/1; although the top-weight burden will certainly play its part in holding him back. His trainer Howard Johnson was held up at gunpoint recently and could certainly do with a pick-me-up.
The gelding was last seen in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster in early March, when he looked the winner all over approaching the straight before being overtaken and then making a blunder at the last. But it's fair to say that he showed a good improvement that day when second to Wogan and the better ground and first-time cheekpieces definitely played their part. He can be taken each-way today where conditions look favourable(3.20).
On the level, Lady Of The Desert can add to Kieren Fallon's early string of winners for the 2010 Flat season. The Crusheen native has laid down a challenge to both Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori for the 2010 Flat jockey championship, and the six-time winner of that title thinks it could be a three-way dogfight.
Fallon's troubles in and out of the saddle have been well documented and us Irish like nothing better than the broken man fighting his way back to the top; but my own opinion is that the talented Ryan Moore will be hard to beat.
I hope Fallon is right and the bookmakers have installed him as 7/2 second favourite for the championship behind the odds-on Moore, who is as low as 4/11 in places. Neither Moore nor Dettori will play a part in today's Dubai Duty Free Stakes (3.05 Newbury) but Fallon's mount -- assuming he gets it after his accident at the course yesterday -- has serious claims here based on her two group wins last summer.
Concerns about the horse have been raised as to whether or not she'll get the 7f trip but her pedigree suggests she'll stay at least a mile so I'm not too worried. She hit 2/5 in-running last-time-out in the Group One Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket back in October, but veered to the left late on, costing her a couple of lengths.
Her trainer Brian Meehan said afterwards that the undulations of the course at British HQ were not to her liking and she could go better elsewhere.
Clive Brittain's Misheer finished ahead of Lady Of The Desert at Newmarket and has obvious claims. This could go close but the word has it my selection has wintered well and I'm confident she can do it.
3.05 Newbury -- Lady Of The Desert
3.20 Ayr -- Killyglen
4.45 Thirsk -- Markab
7.55 Doncaster -- Saptapadi