Horse Racing: McCain calls for National changes

Ginger McCain called for a change to the entry conditions for the Martell Grand National after watching Ebony Light confirm that the stable’s fortunes have changed for the better with a wide-margin win in the Tote Placepot Maiden Hurdle at Uttoxeter.

Ginger McCain called for a change to the entry conditions for the Martell Grand National after watching Ebony Light confirm that the stable’s fortunes have changed for the better with a wide-margin win in the Tote Placepot Maiden Hurdle at Uttoxeter.

Several horses need to be withdrawn from the Aintree spectacular for Amberleigh House to get a place in the line up and McCain, who was also on the mark at Bangor-On-Dee, reasoned: ‘‘It would be tragic if he does not get in he has a serious chance.

‘‘It would be ridiculous for a horse like him not to get in when he has won a Becher Chase (over three miles and three furlongs of the National course) in fact I think a rule should be brought in that any horse which has won over the course should be given 10st which would ensure he gets in.’’

He added: ‘‘We had a bit of a quiet time but we are just getting right for two weeks time (National day). Amberleigh House is our best chance since we won it three times with Red Rum and he worked nicely he is seriously, seriously well.’’

Admittedly it was a facile victory for Ebony Light in the hands of Graham Lee, but the ground, officially described as heavy, was so testing that any horse who was anything below 100 per cent fit and well would not have completed the course.

Indeed Lee, who reached his first half century at Kelso on Friday, and who was gaining his first success for McCain, said: ‘‘It is unbelievable ground, you would not think it possible, but it is worse than it was here last week at the Midlands National meeting it is even deeper.’’

Lee and McCain were in opposition in the Tote Credit Club Novices’ Hurdle and the former came out the better to complete his double on the Malcolm Jefferson-trained Trading Trouble who beat Ebony Light’s stable companion Father Mulcahy by 10 lengths.

Jefferson said: ‘‘He is a nice little horse, but he must have some juice in the ground if it dried up we would rough him off, but he is a fresh horse really and if the ground is right, he will go to Perth.’’

Paul Nicholls is poised to set a new personal best score having taking his tally for the season to 107 when Saint Par made short work of his four rivals under Sam Stronge in the Tote Quick Pick Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle.

Saint Par was the Shepton Mallet’s trainer’s only runner at the meeting and his assistant Jeremy Young explained: ‘‘That is 107 for the season and we are heading to beat our best of 110.

‘‘On paper he had to do it like he did. All the experience he gets is good for him and he will be entered for the two mile and two and a half mile novices’ hurdle races at Aintree. He is probably a bit better over two and a half so it will depend on the ground which race he runs in.’’

Katie Buckers supplemented a recent Hereford success in convincing fashion under a good ride from amateur Des Flavin in the Tote Bookmakers Handicap Chase after which trainer Kim Bailey’s representative Mark Gibson said: ‘‘We have hit a little purple patch and we are hoping it lasts.’’

Sue Wilton saddled the 150th winner of her career last month and Andy’s Birthday gave her a second success since in game fashion under David Dennis in the Tote betXpress Handicap Chase.

Miss Wilton said: ‘‘Things have been going well with our jumpers this season.’’

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