Talking Horses: What's wrong with this 66-1 Grand National runner?

Chris Cook
It’s time to be thinking about those green fences again... Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

Today’s best bets, by Chris Cook


Being a bit of a Grand National obsessive, I’ve been turning this year’s race over in what passes for my mind these last few days. I have developed an interest in an outsider that wouldn’t quite justify tipping the beast - not yet, anyway - but I thought I’d share it with you lot in case someone can come up with a convincing reason to leave it alone.

Measureofmydreams is the yak in question and I mention it now because Eddie O’Leary of Gigginstown Stud told me yesterday that it is an intended runner a week on Saturday, along with four others that carry the same colours. Odds of 66-1 (or 89-1 on the leading exchange) look about right on the strength of his two efforts this season but you only have to look back to last spring to see that he might still get involved.

The bit of form that takes my eye is his third in last year’s National Hunt Chase, a vintage renewal of the four-miler in which Minella Rocco and Native River were the only two to beat him. That pair have just finished second and third in the Gold Cup. Meanwhile, Vicente, who was fifth in that race a year ago, won the Scottish National next time while Vieux Lion Rouge, unbeaten in two this season and the current National favourite, was back in sixth, 12 lengths behind Measureofmydreams.

In the autumn, Measureofmydreams left Willie Mullins, along with all the other Gigginstown horses, and moved to Noel Meade. Spring has not always been the best time to catch a Meade horse but the trainer won a chase at the Cheltenham Festival for the first time in his career with another Gigginstown horse he inherited in October, from Eoin Griffin.

Measureofmydreams did not fare well in the three-mile handicap at this year’s Festival, but I thought he was beginning to stay on when a faller got in his way two-out. His stamina appeals to me and I think he’s significantly overpriced. O’Leary tells me he was working well before Cheltenham and a big run was expected; it is, at least, encouraging that the owner believes the ability is still there.

Perhaps I’m seeing things. Let me know if you think so in the comments below, or share any longshots you happen to fancy.

As for today, Sauvignon (4.40) might be the best value on offer at 5-1 for a conditional riders’ handicap hurdle at Southwell (because I can’t get away from the most glamorous races). She’s a mare who showed little in novice hurdles but perked up for the switch to handicaps last week when second to a well-backed rival, 22 lengths clear of the third in an 11-runner contest.

From the in-form Dan Skelton yard, she gets to run off the same mark here. The market prefers Champion Chase but that one showed his best form so far on heavy at Lingfield, which is about as different to today’s conditions as it is possible to get.

As an aside, the Southwell bumper that follows this will feature the racecourse debut of Who’s My Jockey, a half-brother to Hurricane Fly. He represents the powerful combination of Philip Hobbs, Richard Johnson and Paul Rooney and there has been some interest in him this morning, so it’ll be a race worth watching.

Pick of the card at Hexham may be Barrys Jack (3.30), a winning hurdler in Ireland on the kind of testing surface he’ll meet today. He was a fancied flop on his debut for Brian Ellison at Stratford recently but the extra half-mile should help. He’s 5-2.

I’m surprised to be getting 11-4 about Dark Destroyer (3.20) at Wolverhampton. Joe Tuite’s three-year-old, who had his second start in the valuable sales race at the Ebor meeting last summer, finally broke his maiden at Kempton last month, beating a John Gosden favourite that has since won twice. He looks nicely treated on that evidence.

Tips for Tuesday’s races, by Chris Cook

Hexham
2.00
Well Above Par 2.30 Bandol 3.00 King Of Fashion 3.30 Barrys Jack 4.00 Hattons Hill 4.30 Up Helly Aa King

Southwell
2.10
Nobel Leader 2.40 Dawnieriver 3.10 Cup Of Ambition 3.40 Boher Lad 4.10 Brillare Momento 4.40 Sauvignon (nb) 5.10 Who’s My Jockey

Wolverhampton
2.20
Lucent Dream 2.50 William Sayle (nap) 3.20 Dark Destroyer 3.50 Monjeni 4.20 Dandilion 4.50 Utopian Dream

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