Saddlers has stamina to ride storm and force way into National shake-up
STAMINA is always a key component of any Grand National winner's armoury, but with the ground in Fairyhouse the way it is after yesterday's racing, it is even a more crucial than usual.
Conditions were very testing at the Meath venue and the respective weights carried by the contenders will have a huge bearing on the outcome on the showpiece event of the Easter weekend.
I ride the favourite, Saddlers Storm, which has moved to the top of the market on the back of three straight wins. He's clearly a progressive sort, but he has come up 36lbs in weight, which is a major jump. I rode him at the start of the season in Punchestown and believe he'd like the ground a little bit better than he will get today.
He's not the quickest horse in the field but he's honest and will keep galloping so if we can get into a rhythm early on, we'll be in the shake-up.
Only three horses finished yesterday's Powers Gold Cup and expect the National to have a high attrition rate among its 30 runners. Whatuthink is another to keep an eye on and he'll be in the mix if his jumping holds. He was a good hurdler and ran well behind Zaarito at Naas last time out while Jim Dreaper's Telenor will like the ground and I'd give him a chance.
Noel Meade's Across The Bay looks to represent good each-way value. He has a bit of form in that he was second to Jadanli -- which won the Gold Cup yesterday -- in Navan in February .
Elsewhere, A New Story has to be respected given his excellent record in this race (he was third last year and fourth in 2008). Add that to his win in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham and Michael Hourigan's charge looks to have a good chance. I have another decent chance in the Arkle Bar Novice Handicap Chase at 5.15 with An Cathaoir Mor.
He's giving away a lot of weight but that's to be expected with a Grade One winner which really underperformed last time out in Thurles. He's much better than that and he'll have a good run.
Elsewhere in that race, Psycho, the mount of Ruby Walsh, looks to be carrying a nice weight and he'll be a danger too. I have another ride with Red Basil in the 2.50. He'll like the trip and the ground and I'm hopeful of a good run.