Grand National Date remains unchanged as Wiltshire handlers prepare

02-March-2021
02-March-2021 12:00
in General
by Peter McNeile

A brief debate last week as to the flexibility of rescheduling the Grand National came to nothing after both the racecourse and BHA opted to retain the status quo.

Former managing director of Aintree Racecourse, John Baker,  revealed that the date of this year's Grand National might come under scrutiny, if it would help to move in line with the reopening of betting shops in England on April 12, two days after the race. 

Baker, who held the role at Liverpool's premier racecourse until last year, said he would have been considering a switch if he was still in charge and said that Aintree has a proud record of innovating and adapting to change over the decades.  

Baker told the Racing Post; "My personal view would be that these are extraordinary times and Aintree has always been an innovative place. We changed the time of the race, the start and the distance of the race and the fences all to help attract a bigger audience and make for a better race for the Grand National.

"So [moving the date] is something that I would say is possible."

Although it would be fair to say no-one had any real anticipation of change, one aspect of fixture planning has been admirable these past 12 months, made all the easier by a lack of spectators on course. That is, the BHA's ability to switch fixture dates readily to accommodate the horsemen who make their living from the sport. Fixture lists have been jigged and re-jigged to deal with local or regional issues, and to overcome the very wet winter that compromised so much of February's racing. 

National Plans

Last year's Grand National, which was supposed to take place in April, was cancelled because of the first lockdown, with spectators instead tuning into the Virtual Grand National which was won by Potters Corner.

This year, organisers are hoping that the Virtual running of the race will only be an accompanying event with the real race expected to take place on April 10th, which will be two days before non-essential retail, including betting shops will be allowed to open under Boris Johnson's recently announced roadmap to take the UK out of lockdown.

Reports across the horse racing industry have already indicated that bookmakers would welcome the chance to have punters back in their shops for Grand National day, which has historically been the biggest betting event of the year in Britain, but sadly that payday looks an impossibility for 2021. That said, bookmakers have maintained market share remarkably well in persuading so many of their customers to bet online.

However, the roll-out of the lockdown relaxation plan does mean that Aintree will be permitted to allow owners of runners to view the races live at the course. And according to Racecourse Association CEO David Armstrong, there is an outside chance that spectators would be allowed as one of the pilot schemes. He is negotiating with DCMS presently for racecourses to be seen as stadia, which would offer a ceiling on capacity of 10,000, not the 4,000 designated from May 17.  

 

Grand National Betting

Despite Grand National day attracting interest from once-a-year punters, there are plenty of racing fans who place their bets well before the day of the event, much like people do for the Cheltenham Festival in a fortnight.

The Grand National 2021 ante post betting is already hotting up after the weights were recently announced for the race with Cloth Cap now installed as the 14/1 favourite. 

Much of the discussion on the announcement of the weights was regarding Tiger Roll who aims to land an historic third Grand National if he makes this race this year. He will have to carry 10lbs more than when he won the race in 2019, something that has left his owners undecided about whether or not he will take his chance in the most famous race of all

 As a result, he is now out to 25/1 to win the race with most bookmakers, but is far from guaranteed to make the race with the Cheltenham Festival cross country race confirmed to be his main target this season. 

 That could open the door for other contenders to win the race for the first time with Kimberlite Candy, Any Second Now, Burrows Saint and Secret Reprieve all towards the top of the betting market at 20/1.

Wiltshire's trainers are not without candidates in the race though. Barbury is represented by Talkischeap, one of two Alan King entries, with Canelo the other. Former winning Irish pointer Talkischeap has been given 10st 12lb, which is an interesting racing weight for a winner of the Bet365 Gold Cup back in April 2019. His preparation this Spring has also been unorthodox, running in a Novice event on the Flat in January over 1m 4f, then a Jumpers Bumper at Lingfield last month, as a precursor to a run in Saturday's Close Brothers Handicap Chase at Kempton, where he was held in rear, showed some headway four out, but couldn't maintain his challenge. Evidently, he gets the trip, as he was fifth in the corrsponding race in 2019; the Aintree fences might bring out something extra in him. 

Canelo is arguably a more interesting choice. At 10st 4lb, he is guaranteed a run, and wins so far this year at Aintree in November over the Mildmay fences and in Wetherby's Rowland Meyrick on Boxing Day give him solid credentials of a place. 

Canelo (left) wins the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby

Further down the handicap, Bath-based Neil Mulholland has Soupy Soups (9st 8lb) and Fingerontheswitch (9st 3lb). The former is a winner of the Perth Gold Cup last August and was touched off from the Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton two years ago. He's more likely to get a place than Fingerontheswitch, who has been running mid-division in Veterans races but who finished ahead of both Soupy Soups and Talkischeap in Saturday's Kempton feature, without ever looking likely to land a blow. 

The next fortnight sees key trials for the Grand National at Doncaster and Newbury this weekend, and in various races at the Festival, where Tiger Roll has prepped successfully in recent years in the cross country. However, it's also worth keeping a close watch on the Ultima and thr Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir. 

Good news meantime for the amateur rider cadre, who will be able to participate in this year's Aintree fixture when the restriction on amateurs is lifted on March 29. The Aintree Foxhunter at least will be true to its roots. 

Next Event

When?

Season curtailed. Come racing back next winter

 

 

 

 

 

Where?

Barbury, 3m N of Marlborough, off A346, Jn 15 M4

 

Latest News

Grand National Date remains unchanged as Wiltshire handlers prepare

02-March-2021
02-March-2021 12:00
in General
by Peter McNeile

A brief debate last week as to the flexibility of rescheduling the Grand National came to nothing after both the racecourse and BHA opted to retain the status quo.

Former managing director of Aintree Racecourse, John Baker,  revealed that the date of this year's Grand National might come under scrutiny, if it would help to move in line with the reopening of betting shops in England on April 12, two days after the race. 

Baker, who held the role at Liverpool's premier racecourse until last year, said he would have been considering a switch if he was still in charge and said that Aintree has a proud record of innovating and adapting to change over the decades.  

Baker told the Racing Post; "My personal view would be that these are extraordinary times and Aintree has always been an innovative place. We changed the time of the race, the start and the distance of the race and the fences all to help attract a bigger audience and make for a better race for the Grand National.

"So [moving the date] is something that I would say is possible."

Although it would be fair to say no-one had any real anticipation of change, one aspect of fixture planning has been admirable these past 12 months, made all the easier by a lack of spectators on course. That is, the BHA's ability to switch fixture dates readily to accommodate the horsemen who make their living from the sport. Fixture lists have been jigged and re-jigged to deal with local or regional issues, and to overcome the very wet winter that compromised so much of February's racing. 

National Plans

Last year's Grand National, which was supposed to take place in April, was cancelled because of the first lockdown, with spectators instead tuning into the Virtual Grand National which was won by Potters Corner.

This year, organisers are hoping that the Virtual running of the race will only be an accompanying event with the real race expected to take place on April 10th, which will be two days before non-essential retail, including betting shops will be allowed to open under Boris Johnson's recently announced roadmap to take the UK out of lockdown.

Reports across the horse racing industry have already indicated that bookmakers would welcome the chance to have punters back in their shops for Grand National day, which has historically been the biggest betting event of the year in Britain, but sadly that payday looks an impossibility for 2021. That said, bookmakers have maintained market share remarkably well in persuading so many of their customers to bet online.

However, the roll-out of the lockdown relaxation plan does mean that Aintree will be permitted to allow owners of runners to view the races live at the course. And according to Racecourse Association CEO David Armstrong, there is an outside chance that spectators would be allowed as one of the pilot schemes. He is negotiating with DCMS presently for racecourses to be seen as stadia, which would offer a ceiling on capacity of 10,000, not the 4,000 designated from May 17.  

 

Grand National Betting

Despite Grand National day attracting interest from once-a-year punters, there are plenty of racing fans who place their bets well before the day of the event, much like people do for the Cheltenham Festival in a fortnight.

The Grand National 2021 ante post betting is already hotting up after the weights were recently announced for the race with Cloth Cap now installed as the 14/1 favourite. 

Much of the discussion on the announcement of the weights was regarding Tiger Roll who aims to land an historic third Grand National if he makes this race this year. He will have to carry 10lbs more than when he won the race in 2019, something that has left his owners undecided about whether or not he will take his chance in the most famous race of all

 As a result, he is now out to 25/1 to win the race with most bookmakers, but is far from guaranteed to make the race with the Cheltenham Festival cross country race confirmed to be his main target this season. 

 That could open the door for other contenders to win the race for the first time with Kimberlite Candy, Any Second Now, Burrows Saint and Secret Reprieve all towards the top of the betting market at 20/1.

Wiltshire's trainers are not without candidates in the race though. Barbury is represented by Talkischeap, one of two Alan King entries, with Canelo the other. Former winning Irish pointer Talkischeap has been given 10st 12lb, which is an interesting racing weight for a winner of the Bet365 Gold Cup back in April 2019. His preparation this Spring has also been unorthodox, running in a Novice event on the Flat in January over 1m 4f, then a Jumpers Bumper at Lingfield last month, as a precursor to a run in Saturday's Close Brothers Handicap Chase at Kempton, where he was held in rear, showed some headway four out, but couldn't maintain his challenge. Evidently, he gets the trip, as he was fifth in the corrsponding race in 2019; the Aintree fences might bring out something extra in him. 

Canelo is arguably a more interesting choice. At 10st 4lb, he is guaranteed a run, and wins so far this year at Aintree in November over the Mildmay fences and in Wetherby's Rowland Meyrick on Boxing Day give him solid credentials of a place. 

Canelo (left) wins the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby

Further down the handicap, Bath-based Neil Mulholland has Soupy Soups (9st 8lb) and Fingerontheswitch (9st 3lb). The former is a winner of the Perth Gold Cup last August and was touched off from the Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton two years ago. He's more likely to get a place than Fingerontheswitch, who has been running mid-division in Veterans races but who finished ahead of both Soupy Soups and Talkischeap in Saturday's Kempton feature, without ever looking likely to land a blow. 

The next fortnight sees key trials for the Grand National at Doncaster and Newbury this weekend, and in various races at the Festival, where Tiger Roll has prepped successfully in recent years in the cross country. However, it's also worth keeping a close watch on the Ultima and thr Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir. 

Good news meantime for the amateur rider cadre, who will be able to participate in this year's Aintree fixture when the restriction on amateurs is lifted on March 29. The Aintree Foxhunter at least will be true to its roots. 

Our Sponsors