Goonyella set for National assault
JIM DREAPER is plotting an ambitious assault on the Crabbies Aintree Grand National with Goonyella following a tame effort in the Welsh equivalent that the Co Meath handler attributes to a torturous 20-hour cross-channel journey.
A leading fancy for the Chepstow slog, the unexposed son of Presenting never figured under Andrew Lynch en route to finishing eighth of the nine that completed the course. However, Dreaper is happy to draw a line through that subdued performance, as the inclement weather over the festive period meant that travel plans were seriously disrupted.
"He ran a bit flat," Dreaper admitted. "We couldn't find any other reason apart from the travelling.
"His departure was delayed because of the weather and then he had to go all the way up to Belfast and over to Stranraer and then a long, long drive down to Chepstow on the Thursday before the Saturday. It may just have knocked the edge off him.
"We're hoping to run him in the Grand National and he'll have a run somewhere before that in mid-February. Where hasn't been decided yet as he's having a bit of a break since his Chepstow episode."
AP ON FIRE AS KEANE GOES CLOSE IN DUBAI
AP McCOY was in fine form at Catterick yesterday, securing a quick double for northern handlers Brian Ellison and Tim Easterby aboard Magic Skyline (15/8) and Getabuzz (5/2).
There was no joy for the Irish raiders, however, on day 1 of the Dubai Racing Carnival, though Ger Lyons' Brendan Brackan ran a cracking race to finish third in the mile Group Two.
Colin Keane's mount was a real money-spinner for the stable last year with valuable wins at Galway and the Curragh.
When he challenged up the inside in the Meydan straight yesterday, he looked as though he might add the £90,000 winner's purse to his spoils, but he eventually went down gallantly by three-parts of a length and a short-head to Godolphin's strong-finishing Shuruq.