Hennessy Gold Cup: Faith In Our Father

Trainer David Pipe has placed his faith in Our Father to win a competitive renewal of the Hennessy Gold Cup on his seasonal debut

David Pipe has placed his faith in the talented grey to win the Hennessy Gold Cup. The seven-year-old has won all three of seasonal debuts during his career and looks well placed to do so again. In his way is a field of classy of chasers who brim with future potential or proven records. Alan King’s Invictus has been the subject of whispers and support, and if producing the form of two years ago must have strong claims. At the head of the market Lord Windermere and Rocky Creek represent the novice class of 12/13. Rocky Creek certainly brims with potential and would provide an emotional victory for connections; as would 2010 Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander who will have his last race in the contest. Our Father always provides his best performances when out for the first time and will provide punters with attractive odds.

JP McManus will hope to have a valuable hurdle double with At Fishers Cross (Long Distance Hurdle – Newbury) and My Tent or Yours (Fighting Fifth – Newcastle). Leading novices last year they will have to prove their worth against fields that provide good markers of the ability. Melodic Rendezvous may spoil the party at Newcastle and an in-form Reve De Sivola will provide a good test for Curtis’s At Fishers Cross.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Silver Eagle (Towcester 1.15)

Fancied last time out when running at Cheltenham this horse has the quality to bounce back to winning ways in this much weaker race. If reproducing the form of his second in his penultimate start he will be a Dead Cert.

Crockford’s Whisper – Our Father e/w (Hennessy Gold Cup – Newbury 3.00)

Always best fresh the whispers surrounding the chances of this grey are strong. Clearly talented and aimed at this valuable prize, punters should have faith in a bold show from Pipe’s chaser.

Archer’s Selection – Oscar Rock (Newcastle 1.05)

Archer would have been eager to be up on this talented and highly touted horse. The talk surrounding his potential would not have been overlooked by the shrewd jockey.

Crockford’s Gambles on Hennessy Gold Cup Day:

Newbury – Gus Macrae e/w (1.20), Punjabi e/w (1.50), At Fishers Cross (2.25), Our Father e/w, Invictus e/w and Imperial Commander e/w (Hennessy Gold Cup 3.00)

Newcastle –  Oscar Rock (1.05), Melodic Rendezvous and Cockney Sparrow e/w (2.05), Hey Big Spender and Master of the Hall e/w (2.40)

Bangor – Mendip Express (12.30), Fentara (1.30) and My Wigwam or Yours (3.10)

Towcester – Silver Eagle (1.15), Earcomesthedream e/w (1.45) and Coyaba (3.25)

Fairyhouse – Foxrock (1.55) and Captain Cee Bee (2.30)


(Featured Photograph – Our Father at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)





Grand National Meeting – Grand National Day: Dead Cert & Whispers

Crockford reviews the other racing taking place on Grand National Day and gives his Dead Cert and Whisper

(For Crockford’s Grand National Dead Cert and Whispers view the earlier posts)

On what is an excellent supporting card to the Grand National, the Liverpool Hurdle stands out. Solwhit and Paul Carberry look well placed to follow up on their impressive win in the World Hurdle. The interesting danger to him today will come in the shape of Nigel Twiston-Davies’ novice African Gold who ran well at the Festival. If Grand Crus can recapture his form or Medinas can continue to improve they may also be involved in the finish.

Overturn will be better suited by the ground at Aintree and the sharper track and should get back to winning ways in the (2.15). In the first Dodging Bullets quality should shine through against his rivals and the competitive last race may well go to Pure Science who showed potential in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. One of the strongest whispers at the Cheltenham Festival was for Cantlow who had to be withdrawn before his race due bleeding. Today he will have his chance of landing another gamble but may be threatened by the in form GordonElliott and Russian War.

The International Stakes at Lingfield has attracted a quality field headed by the Racing Post Trophy second Van Der Neer who will use this as a trial on the way to Newmarket and the 2000 Guineas. The whispers surrounding this horse have been strong and expect an impressive victory today.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Solwhit (Aintree 2.50)

Showed an impressive turn of foot at Cheltenham to take the World Hurdle. This ultra consistent sort has come back from injury retaining all of his former ability. Expect another big show from here today especially given his liking for the course having won 2009 Aintree Hurdle. A Dead Cert with the exceptional Paul Carberry on board.

Crockford’s Whisper – Prince Of Fire e/w (Aintree 5.10)

This is an old but strong whisper from the yard for this horse. Having had a warm up race on the all weather at Dundalk he will now be just right for this hurdle handicap. Held in extremely high regard in the stable this JP McManus horse is certainly worth an each way punt at prices of around 20/1.

Fred Archer
Archer selects Van Der Neer

Archer’s Selection – Van Der Neer (Lingfield 3.00)

Archer would have listened to Richard Hughes when he felt that there was more to come from this Racing Post Trophy second. The shrewd Archer would have noticed that today’s race was well within the grasp of this horse with classic potential.

Crockford’s Gambles on Grand National Day:

Grand National  (4.15) – Imperial Commander e/w (Dead Cert)

Aintree – Dodging Bullets (1.45), Overturn (2.15), Solwhit and African Gold e/w (2.50), Cantlow e/w and Russian War e/w (3.25), Prince  Of Fire e/w (5.10), Pure Science e/w, Sgt Reckless e/w and Alphabetical Order e/w (5.45)

Lingfield – Apache (2.25), Van Der Neer and Luhaif e/w (3.00), Ortac Rock and Galician e/w (4.45)

Chepstow – Oscargo (2.00), Oddjob (2.30), Kozmina Bay (3.05), Judiciary e/w (4.50) and Bar a Mine (6.00)

Newcastle – Greenhead High (1.35), The Cornish Cowboy (2.40), Docs Legacy (3.15) and Panama Cat (5.00)

Navan – Wipe Your Eye (2.20), Moon Dice (4.00), Call The Police (4.35) and Florimund (5.05)


(Featured Photograph – Solwhit after his win in the World Hurdle by Stuart Rice)



Grand National 2013: Crockford’s Grand National Dead Cert & Whispers

Crockford has selected his Dead Cert and Whispers for the Grand National 2013.

The pundits and punters may well be concentrating on the Walsh family to provide them with a winner for the Grand National but Crockford believes it is the Twiston-Davies family that will win the prize.  Imperial Commander is trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies who has already won the Grand National twice and will be ridden by his son Sam. If Imperial Commander can win today he will be the first horse since 1975 to win both the Gold Cup and Grand National.

Crockford gives his review of his leading fancies for the Grand National (prices from stanjames.com)

Imperial Commander – 16/1 –  The 2010 Gold Cup winner was gallant in defeat at Cheltenham in January.His trainer is confident of his star horse’s chances saying recently to the media that he is “three stone well in on his best form”. The quality horse of the race who jumps for fun and if anywhere near his best will win easily. Only one concern will be the recent setback that stopped him running in this year’s Gold Cup last month. (DEAD CERT)

Teaforthree – 12/1 – Winner of the four mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival 2012 and second in the Coral Welsh National in January this Welsh horse has an outstanding chance of being the first since 1905 to claim the race for Wales . Trained on the Pembrokeshire sands by his brilliant trainer Rebecca Curtis this race has always been his aim. Only concern is his lacklustre run last time at Haydock. (Whisper e/w)

Chicago Grey – 11/1 – This classy grey has had this in mind since being brought down in the race last year. On a very low weight with the brilliant Paul Carberry riding he will creep into the race from the back of the field. Gordon Elliott is a shrewd trainer and knows what it takes to win the race. Only concern is that his racing style may well get him into trouble with horses falling in front of him like last year. (Whisper e/w)

Quel Esprit – 50/1 – This Irish grey for top trainer Willie Mullins has excellent form in the book. He is a much overlooked horse who the trainer fancies to perform well at Aintree. Expect a big run from a horse that has beaten horses that are more favoured than him in the betting. Only concern could be his jumping. (Whisper e/w)

Roberto Goldback – 22/1 – Impressive winner at Ascot and had a good career in Ireland before joining Nicky Henderson’s yard this year. Purchased with the National in mind his jockey Barry Gerraghty is very sweet on his chances. Nicky Henderson had a great day yesterday at Aintree and this just might be his first Grand National winner. Only concern is the weight he is carrying. (Whisper e/w)

Saint Are – 66/1 – Lively outsider who comes alive when he gets to Aintree. The seven-year old will love the ground and will probably take to the National fences too. Tim Vaughan has a lot of confidence in this Welsh horse. Only concern will be his age and stamina to stay the distance. (Whisper e/w)

Forpadydeplasterer – 66/1 – A brilliant two-mile chaser who has served it up to the best horses around over the last few years. There used to be an adage that said- what you need is a good jumping two and a half miler to win the National – this horse would fit that bill perfectly. Only concern would be that he has been in and out of form of late. (Whisper e/w)

For more about other Dark Horses and Outsiders at big prices with a chance in the Grand National take a look at yesterday’s post Grand National 2013: Crockford’s Dark Horses & Outsiders. 

Crockford’s prediction of the first five in the Grand National 2013:







(Featured photograph – Imperial Commander at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)


Grand National 2013: Crockford’s Dark Horses & Outsiders for the Grand National

In 2009 Mon Mome won the Grand National at 100/1, Crockford considers this year’s Dark Horses & Outsiders for the National and their chances of a surpise win in the race

A punter’s dream is to find that outsider or dark horse with a live chance of winning at massive odds. Last year Crockford chose Neptune Collonges as lively outsider who went on to win at 33/1. This year he has cast his eye over the longer priced odds and evaluated each of the runners who were 50/1 or more with Stan James Bookmakers (www.stanjames.com) at 7pm on the eve of the 2013 race.

Crockford has graded each of their chances with *. Those with * have no or little chance of being placed, ** have an outside chance of making the places and the dark horses with *** have been overlooked by the bookies & punters and have a live chance of making the places at massive odds.

Harry The Viking – 50/1 * – He hasn’t been able to repeat his form of previous seasons this year and even if he could he probably would not figure.

Quel Esprit – 50/1 *** –  A classy grey that can on his day jump for fun. This Mullins horse has slipped under many punters radars and should not have done. Massive price.

Saint Are – 50/1 *** –  Loves Aintree and has run his best races at the course. The ground will be in his favour and he may well take to the National obstacles.

Becauseicouldntsee – 66/1 ** –  Had an encouraging run at the Cheltenham Festival but he is not in the form he has been in previous years. His best chance may have gone.

Swing Bill
Swing Bill 66/1

Swing Bill – 66/1 ** –  This grey has shown a love for the National fences and ran well last year and finished fourth in the Becher Chase over the obstacles in December. He should get round again.

Lost Glory – 66/1 ** –  Jonjo O’Neill knows how to train National horses and this could well be a dark horse for the stable but this would be a massive step up in class.

Tatenen – 66/1 * –  In recent seasons he has been inconsistent and this looks to be beyond his best trip. One to overlook.

Joncol – 66/1 *** – Once considered a Gold Cup horse. This Grade One winning chaser  is another Irish horse that is overlooked by the punters at their peril

Forpadydeplasterer – 66/1 *** – Once a brilliant two miler and a consistently high performer in the past. His class and weight throws him in with a live chance in the National.

Wierd Al – 66/1 ** – This horse lives up to his name. Depending on what horse turns up to the race he could either have a live chance or none. Too risky nowadays to bet on.

What A Friend – 66/1 ** – Owned by Sir Alex Ferguson & partners this once classy horse has a similar profile to last year’s winner, but he does seem to have lost his way a bit of late and has a lot of weight to carry.

Auroras Encore – 80/1 * –  Hard to see this horse figuring in the finish.

The Rainbow Hunter – 80/1 * –  Some good early season form  but has not built on that and will not be making the places.

Oscar Time -80/1 ** – Finished second to Ballabriggs in the 2011 Grand National. This Waley-Cohen family horse has been nursed through his races this season but his best chance of a win may have gone.

Sam Waley-Cohen
Sam Waley-Cohen rides Oscar Time

Major Malarkey – 100/1 * –  Pulled up in heavy ground at Uttoxeter in the Midlands National a few weeks ago. He has little to no chance here either.

Viking Blond – 100/1 ** – A quality stayer who could go well in the National but still may be just outclassed.

Mr Moonshine – 100/1 * – Good performance behind Cape Tribulation on Boxing Day but hasn’t shown much since. One to overlook.

Tarquinius – 100/1 ** –  A proven handicaper with a shrewd Grand National winning  trainer Gordon Elliott as his master. Big price but probably outclassed in this field.

Ninetieth Minute – 100/1 * * – Coming into form when second behind his stablemate Treacle at Down Royal recently.  Big price but probably will not make the places.

Any Currency – 100/1 * – Unseated his rider when last tackling the course and will be too slow to match his rivals.

Mumbles Head – 150/1 * –  Peter Bowen his trainer is skilled at training horses to cope with the National fences. This horse has lost his form though and will not figure.

Crockford’s Dark Horses with an each way chance in the Grand National 2013:



(Featured photograph – Mon Mome at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

(First Photograph – Swing Bill by Stuart Rice)

(Second Photograph – The Waley-Cohens at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

Grand National Meeting – Day Two: Sprinter Sacre, Flemenstar & Cue Card Clash

Day two of the Grand National Meeting sees Sprinter Sacre, Flemenstar and Cue Card clash in the Melling Chase. Crockford considers if the awesome Sprinter Sacre can be beaten?

The way in which Sprinter Sacre made the former champion Sizing Europe look ordinary in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival must send a shiver down the spine of any potential rival. Today the awesome two miler tries a new distance in the Melling Chase and takes on a new set of challengers to his title of the best horse in training. At two and a half miles he takes on two horses which are masters of the trip in Cue Card and Flemenstar. Cue Card was an impressive winner of the Ryanair Chase last month beating yesterday’s winner of the Betfred Bowl First Lieutenant. Flemenstar returns to his favoured distance today after being tried over three miles in his last two runs and will certainly benefit from being fresh after not taking his chances at Cheltenham. The front running style of both horses means that Henderson’s Sprinter Sacre will certainly be tested for stamina over the extended trip and may have to work harder to dominate the field. That said neither Flemenstar or Cue Card have ever had to serve it up to a horse of his class and natural ability over fences. Quoted at 1/3 and shorter Sprinter Sacre is not value even if he is the likely winner. Crockford prefers to look at the each way value available on Flemenstar at 7/1.  Perhaps punters should save their wagers and just sit back and enjoy what is the best two and half mile contest that they are likely to witness for many years to come. The depth of the race is shown by the fact that no pundits are even mentioning the winner from last year Finians Rainbow who is currently priced at 20/1 for a repeat win.

My Tent Or Yours and At Fishers Cross will start as short priced favourites for their respective novice hurdles. Crockford fears the hype around My Tent Or Yours and believes him to be vulnerable. Rocky Creek missed Cheltenham and has been aimed at Aintree since his last win and should see of the challenge from the improved Vino Griego and soft ground loving Dynaste.

Always Waining has dominated the Topham Chase for the last few years and misses today’s renewal to head for the Grand National instead. In his absence another Welsh trained horse Tartak looks well placed to take the prize back to Wales. The dangers to him look to come from the classy Walkon and Little Josh.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Molly’s A Diva (Aintree 5.25)

Having won three on the trot with many of her rivals behind her last time in a listed contest at Sandown, Crockford believes that she can go on again today to make it four straight wins in a row. There is nothing to suggest that she will not handle the change in the ground conditions and looks to be a Dead Cert.

Tartak after running third at the Festival

Crockford’s Whisper – Tartak e/w (Aintree 3.40)

His encouraging third in a hot handicap at the Cheltenham Festival and his liking of the faster ground conditions make Tartak an interesting each way proposition. This once classy performer can return again to the frame on a low weight.

Crockford’s Gambles on Day Two of the Grand National Meeting:

Top Novice Hurdle (2.00) – Art Of Logistics e/w

Mildmay Novice Chase (2.30) – Rocky Creek

Melling Chase (3.05) – Flemenstar e/w

Topham Chase (3.40) – Tartak e/w, Walkon e/w and Little Josh e/w

Sefton Hurdle (4.15) –  At Fishers Cross

Handicap Hurdle (4.50) – Meister Eckhart e/w and Punjabi e/w

NH Flat (5.25) – Molly’s A Diva 


(Featured Photograph – Cue Card at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Tartak after his third at the Cheltenham Festival by Stuart Rice)

Grand National 2013: The Walshs’ National?

The first three in the Grand National 2013 betting are ridden or trained by the Walsh family – Crockford asks will the 2013 renewal be The Walshs’ National?

Back in 2000 father and son Ted and Ruby Walsh teamed up to win the Grand National with Papillon, who rewarded the punters on the day gamble by landing the race at 10/1. Ruby was back in the winners enclosure again five years later in 2005 with Hedgehunter when riding for the Irish trainer Willie Mullins. His sister Katie Walsh was almost the first woman to seal victory in the race when she rode their father’s horse Seabass to third behind Neptune Collonges and Sunnyhillboy in 2012.

On Saturday Katie partners Seabass again, with her brother Ruby booked to ride the favourite On His Own for Mullins, and the Champion Jockey AP McCoy riding Ted Walsh’s Colbert Station.

William Hill currently pice the market leaders at; On His Own 15/2, Seabass 10/1 and Colbert Station 11/1.

AP McCoy
Will McCoy be giving the winning interviews on Colbert Station?

Crockford reviews the chances of the three Walsh horses:

On His Own (Ruby Walsh/Willie Mullins) 15/2 favourite

Going well when falling last year in the Grand National, this year’s favourite won well when taking the Boyne Hurdle on his seasonal debut. Ruby Walsh is the most able of pilots and the trainer Mullins knows how to win the race. The partnership could follow up on their win with Hedgehunter back in 2005, but Crockford believes that the Walsh’s have stronger chances.

Seabass (Katie Walsh/Ted Walsh) 10/1

Brilliant performance when fading into third on the run in last year. Seabass has been lightly raced this season and is bound to go well again. There has never been a better chance for a female jockey to claim the ultimate racing prize. What a story it would be with father and daughter in the Winners Enclosure at Aintree.

Colbert Station (AP McCoy/Ted Walsh) 11/1

McCoy had the choice between this progressive stayer and the unlucky second from last year’s National Sunnyhillboy. His confidence in choosing the JP McManus/Ted Walsh horse speaks volumes and is sure to attract further attention from the punters. Crockford would not be surprised if they played a hand in the finish of 2013 Grand National.

It is highly likely that at least one, two or all three of the Walsh horses will be there fighting out the finish as they go round the elbow on the way to the post. It certainly could be the Walshs’ National this year.

William Hill offers the combination tri-cast on the three Walsh horses at 40/1, tempting to Crockford but a little short considering it is tri-cast and it is the Grand National a race in which luck is needed and anything could happen


(Featured photograph – Ruby Walsh at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – AP McCoy with Emma Spencer after his win on At Fishers Cross at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)






Grand National Meeting – Day One: The New One takes on the Old Order

On what is the best opening day of the Grand National Meeting in years The New One takes on the old order in the John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle

An impressive Festival winner The New One will leave his novice rivals behind him and take on the established hurdling old guard in the 2m4f Aintree Hurdle this afternoon. His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has also claimed that he is one of (if not the) best he has trained; this afternoon he will get his chance to prove it with the two-time Aintree Hurdle winner Oscar Whisky, the Champion Hurdle third Countrywide Flame and the classy Grandouet in opposition. The New One showed an impressive turn of foot up the Cheltenham Hill and has winning form at the meeting when winning from last year in the Bumper. It certainly a big ask from the trainer but Nigel Twiston-Davies is confident that his horse can perform at this level. Crockford believes that his main danger will come from the unlucky Grandouet who was travelling well when falling in the Champion Hurdle.

The Betfred Bowl has also attracted a quality field with Silviniaco Conti looking to make amends for his fall in the Gold Cup. Favourites have had a difficult time over recent years in this race and Crockford is more tempted by the value on offer for the Ryanair Chase second First Lieutenant and the Gold Cup fifth Cape Tribulation. The Irish will look to have a good meeting and First Lieutenant has the ability to provide an upset, whilst Cape Tribulation has a liking for the track.

The story of the first race over the National obstacles this year could be that of a Mother-in-law and Son-in-law contest with Paul Nicholls training the likely favourite Gwanako whilst owning a share in the second favourite Bold Addition who is trained by his Mother-in-law (Mrs F J Browne).

Beyond the four other excellent races at Aintree today, mention has to be made of the outstanding card put on by the officials at Taunton who have attracted quality fields for their seven races. Hunt Ball runs at (3.20) and useful novice Aaim To Prosper in the (3.55)

Captain Conan
Captain Conan will return to winning ways

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Captain Conan (Aintree 4.50)

Fifth when not lasting home on soft ground at the Festival, the track and the ground will better suit today. Henderson and the team have always held this horse in the utmost regard and are convinced that he has improved again this year. With his tougher Cheltenham rivals missing today he is certain to return to the Winners Enclosure.

Crockford’s Whisper – Cape Tribulation e/w (Aintree 2.30)

Running on when fifth in the Gold Cup and a game winner of the Argento Chase earlier in the season, this horse will be better suited by the conditions and course today. Denis O’Regan told ATR he was confident of a big run and Crockford is too. At around 14/1 it is worth following the each way whispers. Outsiders have a good record in the Bowl.

Crockford’s other gambles on Grand National Meeting Day One and at Taunton:

Juvenile Hurdle (2.00) – Flaxen Flare and Ruacana e/w

Bowl Chase (2.30) – First Lieutenant and Cape Tribulation e/w

Aintree Hurdle (3.05) – Grandouet

Fox Hunters Chase (3.40) – Gwanako

Red Rum Chase (4.15) – Rebel Rebellion, Pires e/w and Donna’s Palm e/w

Manifesto Novices Chase (4.50) – Captain Conan

Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle (5.25) – Jetson e/w and Easter Day e/w

Taunton – Bathwick Junior (2.10), Fox Run (2.45), Hunt Ball and Woolcombe Folly e/w (3.20), Aaim To Prosper (3.55), Violin Davis (4.20), Coombe Hill (5.05) and Thundering Home (5.35)


(Featured Photograph – The New One after his Festival win by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Captain Conan at the Cheltenham Festival 2013 by Stuart Rice)



Grand National 2013: Imperial Commander a Dead Cert?

Crockford considers if the 2010 Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander is a Dead Cert for the Grand National 2013

With the top weight Imperial Commander still in at the five day declaration stage the likelihood of the 2010 Gold Cup winner taking to the field look greater and greater. Nigel Twiston-Davies is bullish about his chances claiming in the press that his horse is “three stone well in” on his best form and holds an outstanding chance of pulling off the biggest double in the sport.

There is no doubt that his come back run in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham showed that all of his ability remained, when he was just tipped to the post by the staying on Cape Tribulation. Quoted at 16/1 for Saturday’s contest punters may well ask if he is fully recovered from the setbacks that prevented his Cheltenham Festival run and if the change of jockey (with Paddy Brennan) being unavailable will affect his chances. Crockford is confident that connections will only let him take his chance if he is fully fit and it is worth backers noting that he runs well fresh. With Sam Twiston-Davies taking the ride, a story of father and son success could be in the making. Sam knows also how to pilot horses around the big Aintree obstacles as demonstrated most recently with his emotional victory on the veteran Hello Bud.

Imperial Commander
Imperial Commander races alongside Golden Chieftain in the Argento Chase

Twiston-Davies knows how to win the race having claimed the prize with Earth Summit (1998)and Bindaree (2002) and  has told the media that he is confident that the ground that the runners will face on Saturday will be in his Gold Cup winners favour. Could the hat-trick of Grand National wins be in the offing at the weekend? Well, if Imperial Commander is fully recovered, if he takes to the obstacles and if most importantly he has luck in running which is essential in the great race, then just may be.

The yard will also be represented by the two outsiders; Viking Blond and Major Malarkey. Viking Blond on a going day holds claims of a place but everything would have to go in their way.

At 16/1 the price of the hat-trick certainly has each way value about it. Crockford would not be bold enough to say that Imperial Commander is a Dead Cert for the Grand National 2013 though


(Featured Photograph – Imperial Commander at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Imperial Commander and Golden Chieftain in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham 2013 by Stuart Rice)





Grand National 2013: A Welsh Winner?

With two of the top ten in the Grand National 2013 betting being trained in Wales, Crockford asks will there be a Welsh Winner of the Grand National 2013?

Much has been said already in the racing press about the strong hand that the Irish have in this year’s race, but are punters and pundits overlooking the chances of the contenders from the Welsh stables?

After Cappa Bleu’s run at Ascot, Evan Williams’ accomplished stayer has been many people’s idea of a Aintree bet. Williams is not unaccustomed to producing a contender for the race with both State Of Play and Cappa Bleu having filled the places in previous renewals. Last year’s fourth shows that the lightly raced Cappa Bleu has a liking for the race. Crockford would not be surprised if he made at least the placings again this time given the form he brings to the race this year. Priced at as low as 10/1 in places there may be better value elsewhere.

Rebecca Curtis, the Newport based trainer followed up on her Cheltenham Festival 2012 win with Teaforthree with another win at the Festival this March with At Fishers Cross and now hopes that her 2012 Festival hero can now add the ultimate jump racing prize to her haul. Teaforthree was narrowly beaten at Chepstow in the Coral Welsh National by the brilliant ride of Paul Carberry on Monbeg Dude. After disappointing last time out at Haydock Curtis has decided to not stable overnight at the course and will travel up to Liverpool on the day from her Pembrokeshire base. The four mile National Hunt Chase winner has bags of stamina and can jump for fun and goes to the Aintree contest with a live chance at around 16/1.

Tim Vaughan
Vaughan’s hopes now rest with Saint Are

Until this week Tim Vaughan was double-handed with two real National hopes – Beshabar one of the ante-post favourites and the lively outsider Saint Are. Beshabar had been laid out for the race and Vaughan was confident of a big show from his Scottish National winner. However, another setback has ruled Beshabar out of the Grand National 2013 leaving the Aintree loving Saint Are as his only hope. Saint Are positively loves Aintree and appears to come alive at the track with all his finest performances being on Merseyside. The Spring, the ground and the flat track bring the best out of him and being currently 50/1 he also appears to be the value proposition for the race.

Always Waining is also synonymous with the course having won three Topham Chases over the Grand National obstacles. Rather than going for a fourth his Welsh based trainer Peter Bowen has decided a crack at the great marathon contest instead is in order. Showing no real form outside the April meeting it is hard to judge Always Waining real chances of landing the world’s greatest race. Bowen is a shrewd trainer and will certainly have his charge ready for the challenge. Quoted at about 40/1 he is almost certain of getting around the four and a half mile course. Bowen is also likely to be represented by Mumbles Head (priced at about 100/1) who strung together good form early last Summer but is surely outclassed in this field.

Teaforthree is one of the ante-post favourites

The Welsh based trainers are certainly not without their chances and may just take the prize back home with them over the Welsh border. One thing is for sure they will have to withstand the strong challenge from the Celtic brothers across the Irish Sea if they want to win the Grand National 2013.

For Crockford their best chances lay with Rebecca Curtis and her proven classy stayer Teaforthree, but Crockford would not be surprised if Tim Vaughan and his Cowbridge based team don’t cheer the winner home with the overpriced Saint Are.


(Featured Photograph – Saint Are at the Cheltenham Festival 2013 by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph- Tim Vaughan by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Teaforthree before the Coral Welsh National by Stuart Rice)






Grand National Whisper: Chicago Grey at Down Royal

With the Cheltenham Festival now over punters attentions turn to the Grand National 2013. Gordon Elliott’s leading Grand National Whisper Chicago Grey is set to show his credentials today at Down Royal

Chicago Grey quoted at 18/1 for the Grand National with Paddy Power takes on a small group of seasoned rivals at Down Royal in preparation for the Aintree marathon. A winner last time out his main danger today will come from former Mullins horse Allee Garde and his  fellow stablemate Tarquinius. The grey is sure to be nursed round today before a big run in the National in April.

At Uttoxeter, The BetFred Midlands Grand National will also provide clues to the Aintree centrepiece but Crockford is not convinced that any horse taking its chances today will figure at all in the Grand National finish.

Next Saturday the flat season will be in full swing with the running of the Lincoln at Doncaster. The Winter Derby and listed supporting races provide an excellent appetiser for the season ahead. The Group 3 Winter Derby sees an interesting clash between the highly regarded Marco Botti trained Faraaj and the veteran Group winner Premio LocoPremio Loco won the race last year and looks well positioned to follow up. Bear Behind travels back from racing in Dubai to take his place in the Hever Sprint (2.20).

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Seebright (Ffos Las 2.30) 

Seebright will be in the winners enclosure again today

A good winner at Chepstow in a bumper and then again when first tackling hurdles. This highly regarded Victor Dartnall horse will put his recent fall behind him and get back to his winning ways at Ffos Las this afternoon.

Crockford’s Whisper – Bear Behind e/w (Lingfield 2.20)

This sprinter has had a very interesting preparation for this race by running three times in Dubai. With good previous form in the book and value available still each way at 10/1, Crockford expects a big show from this Whisper.

Archer’s Selection – Chicago Grey (Down Royal 3.20)

Archer would have enjoyed a ride nursing this talented grey around the fences at Down Royal before picking up the prize money. Winning last time out this Elliott horse, like the yard. seems to be in rude health.

Follow Crockford today at Ffos Las via Twitter (@deadcerts). On Thursday Crockford gave twitter followers a 25/1 (Holywell) from the course at the Festival.

Crockford’s gambles around the courses:

Lingfield – Stentorian (1.45), Tarooq and Bear Behind e/w (2.20), Maxentius (2.55), Premio Loco (3.30), Grey Mirage (4.40) and The Tiger (5.15)

Uttoxeter – Kaylif Aramis (3.15), Rebecca’s Choice e/w (3.50) and Recway Lass e/w (5.30)

Kempton –  Lordofhouse (2.15), Shernando (3.25), Rajamand e/w (4.00), Open Hearted (4.35) and Crow Down (5.40)

Ffos Las – Castle Beach (1.55), Seebright (2.30), Full of Joy (3.05), Scoter Fontaine (3.40), Makethemostofnow (4.15) and Oscars Way e/w (5.25)

Down Royal – Shinrock Paddy (2.45), Chicago Grey (3.20) and Chasingshadows (3.25)

Limerick – Concrete and Clay e/w (4.05), Draco (5.05) and Angel Chorus (5.35)


(Featured photograph – Chicago Grey at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Seebright and Victor Dartnall at Chepstow by Stuart Rice)