Horse talk: racing's hot topics this week

A huge entry of 126 horses, the highest number since 2008, was unveiled on Wednesday for the Aintree Grand National which takes place on April 9th. This was the highest entry since 2008 and great news for the future of the race.

The last two winners, Many Clouds and Pineau De Re, feature in the list, as well as four others from the first six home in 2015, those being the runner-up Saint Are, fourth Alvarado, fifth Shutthefrontdoor and sixth Royale Knight.

Champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins has entered the multiple Grade One winner and 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup second Sir Des Champs, as well as Don Poli, whose three Grade One victories include the 2015 RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and this season's Lexus Chase at Leopardstown.

Their owner, Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud, is responsible for ten entries, more than any other owner out there.

There are 38 Irish entries in total including Seabass, who achieved the best finishing position for a female rider when third in 2012 under Katie Walsh.

Andrew Tulloch, Jockey Club Racecourses' Regional Head of Racing for the North West and Clerk of the Course at Aintree, said: “We could not have wished for a better set of entries for the 2016 Grand National, with a big increase on last year in terms of numbers and a significant presence of high-class horses.”

Grand National Odds at 888sport: 12/1 Many Clouds; 25/1 Don Poli, Goonyella, Just A Par, Kruzhlinin, Shutthefrontdoor, Silviniaco Conti, The Druids Nephew, Triolo D’Alene; 33/1 Double Seven, First Lieutenant, Holywell, O’Faolains Boy, On His Own, Onenightinvienna, Saint Are, Soll, The Last Samurai, Thunder And Roses, Ucello Conti, Valseur Lido, Midnight Prayer, Ziga Boy; 40/1 Alvarado, Bishops Road, Black Thunder, Bless The Wings, Cause Of Causes, Gallant Oscar, Godsmejudge, Le Reve, Living Next Door, Morning Assembly, Mountainous, Rocky Creek, Royale Knight, Shotgun Paddy, Sir Des Champs, The Romford Pele, Vieux Lion Rouge, Wounded Warrior, Firebird Flyer, Gilgamboa, Long Run, Night In Milan, Pineau De Re, Saroque; 50/1 Aachen, Bally Beaufort, Ballynagour, Bears Affair, Boston Bob, Buywise, Carlingford Lough, Double Ross, Highland Lodge, Home Farm, Houblon Des Obeaux, Katenko, Mon Parrain, Open Hearted, Roi Du Mee, Sam Winner, Unioniste, Vics Canvas, Wonderful Charm, Broadway Buffalo, Dare To Endevour, Dromnea, Emperors Choice, Golden Wonder, Gray Hession, Ned Stark, Portrait King, Rivage D’Or, Rule The World, Woodford County; 66/1 Ballycasey, Benbens, Bob Ford, Foxrock, Hadrians Approach, Knock House, Lord Windermere, Maggio, Mendip Express, Perfect Candidate, Present View, Seabass, Spring Heeled, Third Intention, Amigo, Any Currency, Benvolio, Competitive Edge, Gas Line Boy, Golden Chieftain, Harry The Viking, Indian Castle, Katkeau, Milborough, No Secrets, Operating, Paint The Clouds, Pendra, Rathlin, Rigadin De Beauchene, Rogue Angel, Splash Of Ginge, Standing Ovation, Turban; 100/1 Aerlite Supreme, Big Water, Cogry, Corrin Wood, Dark Lover, Doing Fine, Financial Climate, Ikorodu Road, Mr Moonshine, Our Father, Russe Blanc, Seebright, Summery Justice, Tour Des Champs, Wyck Hill.

Antepost rules apply. Check the website for all the latest odds.

***

Carlingford Lough, ridden by Mark Walsh, landed a dramatic renewal of the Irish Gold Cup on Saturday afternoon when he won the Leopardstown race for the second year running.

Ruby Walsh and his Valseur Lido looked all over the winners approaching the last, but Valseur Lido hit the obstacle hard and went down on his nose. Walsh tried to stay on board but gravity got the better of him and he tumbled out the side door.

Road To Riches looked like he would then pick up the pieces but Carlingford Lough (20-1) came from a long way behind to lead on the run-in and snatch a highly unlikely victory.

Trainer John Kiely said “I didn't think he could win two Irish Gold Cups. He was in good form, but I was just hoping to be in the first four. I told Mark to ride him to finish, and it worked.”

Carlingford Lough now looks set to have another crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March given his sudden bounce back to form.

***

Blaklion, ridden by Ryan Hatch, roared home to land the Towton Novices’ Chase in stamina sapping ground at Wetherby on Saturday afternoon.

Bitofapuzzle and Native River were beaten off before turning into the home straight as Definitly Red  and Blaklion fought out a dour battle, with Twiston-Davies’ charge just putting Brian Ellison’s warrior to the sword. It was all rather apt considering it was also Wetherby Races’ Medieval Day.

Twiston-Davies' assistant Carl Llewellyn said afterwards: “He's clever, since he fell at Cheltenham he's barely touched a twig. The thinking before today was the RSA and I don't see why that should change now.”

***

The management at Ffos Las Racecourse have defended their decision to call off their biggest meeting of the year on Saturday, just 90 minutes before it was due to start.

The valuable Welsh Champion Hurdle meeting, which was due to be screened on Channel 4 Racing, was abandoned after a further midday inspection when it was found parts of the course were waterlogged. The 9 am inspection ruled the track was fit but heavy rain hit the course during the morning.

Thousands of people were expected at Ffos Las and several hundred had already arrived.

In a statement, Ffos Las said it would be contacting trainers and offering compensation to those who had travelled to Ffos Las.

***

And finally in what is rapidly becoming weekly news in some parts, Victoria Pendleton sadly failed to complete once again this weekend on the point-to-point scene.

Pendleton pulled up her mount Working Title in the ladies open race at the Western Hunt meeting at Wadebridge.

Pendleton’s intended mount in the Cheltenham Foxhunters’ Chase, Pacha Du Polder is currently 25/1.

***

Top Jump Jockeys (last 14 days): B.Powell (6/17), N.de Boinville (5/16), B.Geraghty (7/25), H.Skelton (4/15).

Top Jump Trainers (last 14 days): C.Roche (3/6), H.Daly (3/8), T.George (3/9), B.Ellison (4/13), B.Pauling (4/13)