Trying to figure out what a trainer’s figured out is a quick way to the poor house. Every trainer is an optimist – as are most people in racing. Beshabar’s trainer, Tim Vaughan strikes me as being fairly shrewd as trainers go, so why is he running the third favourite for the John Smith’s Grand National in the Hennessy Gold Cup?
Beshabar is already rated 150 – the same as this year’s National winner Ballabriggs was when he lined up at Aintree. A prominent run in the first prestigious staying Chase of the season is going to do his mark no good at all; even a poor run probably won’t affect it.
Well, the National is five months away and anything can happen between now and then. What Tim Vaughan has today is a horse he says is ‘happy, fit and healthy’. I think he’s still well handicapped to and almost certainly has a fair bit of improvement in him.
Although he’s a 9-y-o, this will only be Beshabar’s 6th run over fences and he has got noticeably better with each one. At Cheltenham a year ago he was two lengths off the winner (Wayward Prince) and staying on when he was brought down two out. He followed that with an easy long odds-on victory over 3 miles at Doncaster before running a sound race to be second at the festival to Chicago Grey. A rise of 8lbs in his rating for that wasn’t enough to stop him winning the Coral Scottish Grand National next time.
Those final two races of the season (4m and 4m 1f) might mark him as a plodder but I think he might have run so well in them despite the distance rather than because of it. He has wins at 19f and 20f (twice) in his CV. He didn’t see a racecourse till he was five (2nd to Petit Robin over 19f) and this big horse might just be finding his feet now. I’m confident he’ll have the pace for this and that it will probably suit him better than the four milers do.
At around 14/1 I think he is very good value today.
I’ll be having a small saver on Neptune Collonges even though it looks like he is just there to keep Paul Nicholls other two runners on decent weights. Neptune Collonges, 6th behind Beshabar in the Scottish National, is 10 years old and not many his age win a Hennessy especially off such a high mark. But his very talented young rider, Harry Derham reduces the burden by 7lbs and this classy grey – placed in a Gold Cup – could run much better than his price of close to 50/1 on Betfair suggests.
Good luck. Let’s hope all today’s horses and jockeys come home safe