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Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Exciting Month of Racing: Cheltenham, Brocklesby & Grand National

So the Cheltenham Festival has come and gone. I looked at the results rather than watch the races but took an interest. I read the latest blog post written by Graham on pgstipsracing.com as he knows a lot about the National Hunt and detailing that Irish-trained horses won 23 of the 28 races at the Cheltenham Festival. A pretty dire result for the English-trained (not forgetting Scotland and Wales). 

It looks like the English trainers and racing calendar have some work to do. It seems that it's too easy for the better English National Hunt horses to keep out of the way of each other and pick up price money but this leads to less competitive races and horses with some limitation compared to their opposition from the Emerald Isle. 

It's not a subject I have much idea about.

It is great to see the start of the Flat turf season take place at Doncaster's Lincoln meeting on the 27th March. 

My focus was on the first two-year-old race which saw Eve Johnson Houghton's Chipotle win well for owners The Wood 20, who have a number of horses with the stable. 

It was a relatively small field with just 9 runners, from an original 18 declarations. It is difficult to assess the merit of any race because you need the form to settle to appreciate the quality of the individuals or lack of it. In general, the bigger the field the higher the standard. We will have to see how those placed go next time out. 

The Grand National is on the horizon. It takes place on the 10th April, Aintree, Liverpool. Perhaps the biggest story is that Tiger Roll will not be contesting in an effort to equal the legendary Red Rum and his three wins. It is unfortunate that Coronavirus denied this talented horse his chance. As an alternative he is heading for the Irish Grand National which takes place on the 5th April. It would be a great performance for Tiger Roll to win over this reduced distance. It was a brilliant performance to win at Cheltenham but you have to have slight concerns that this may be a stiff challenge. 

It's interesting to consider the Randox Grand National handicap. Jonjo O'Neill's Cloth Cap is a very interesting horse simply by his starting odds which are 4/1. If Trevor Hemmings nine-year-old starts at odds of 7/2 and less sp, it would be one of the shortest priced in over 100 years. 

Whatever happens, it will be an exciting return of the Grand National after last year's which saw the Virtual Grand National take centre stage. It was an opportunity for virtual racing to gain promotion but, personally, it is was a real letdown and was meaningless. It really is a poor relation to the real thing which is hardly surprising.