CHICAGO GREY (IRE) FACTFILE
gr g Luso – Carrigeen Acer (IRE) (Lord Americo)
10-10-07 Form: 533/230261/13105/313211F2510/U3032B-0F631 Owner: John Earls
Trainer: Gordon Elliott IRE Breeder: Anne Lalor
I’m grateful to Racenews for supplying factfiles for every runner in the John Smith’s Grand National. I reformat these and publish as I get them, with the first batch coming out 2 weeks before the big race on April 6th. By the eve of the National all factfiles will be published here. You can find others by clicking on the factfiles tag at the foot of this post
Chicago Grey, born on March 6, 2003, was bred by Dick and Anne Lalor, who have been breeding horses with the prefix Carrigeen for more than 30 years at their yard at Lisronagh, County Tipperary, Ireland. The Luso gelding made his debut for trainer Noel Glynn in a Leopardstown bumper in December, 2007, in which he finished seventh under Dick and Anne’s daughter Liz, and subsequently came home third in similar contests at Punchestown and Cork.
He was sent hurdling for the 2008/2009 campaign and went down by a short-head on his first start over the smaller obstacles at Fairyhouse in November, 2008, but failed to improve on that effort in four subsequent starts for Noel Glynn. Chicago Grey joined Gordon Elliott in the spring of 2009 and made a winning debut for his new trainer with a comprehensive victory for owner John Earls in a Perth, Scotland, maiden hurdle that April.
He followed up with another victory at Thurles in November, 2009, and ran well to take third in the Grade Two Tara Hurdle at Navan the following month. He claimed the notable scalp of Mourad in a Listed hurdle at Thurles later the same month but failed to shine in two subsequent hurdle starts, in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival and a Grade Three contest at Fairyhouse’s Easter meeting. Chicago Grey was sent chasing for the summer of 2010 and he posted a neck success over Prince Erik in a Galway beginners’ chase that July before going on to further victories at Navan in September and at Cheltenham in October.
He headed back to Prestbury Park for his next two starts, falling at the second last when staying on well in November and filling the runner-up spot behind Time For Rupert a month later. He ran a good race to take fifth in the Grade One Fort Leney Novice Chase at Leopardstown later the same month and was given a break prior to recording the biggest success of his career to date in the National Hunt Chase at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival, when he readily beat Beshabar by four and a half lengths. He failed to reproduce that form on his next outing as he could only finish eighth behind Beshabar in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr.
He unseated Paul Carberry on his first appearance of the following season in a Cheltenham handicap chase and raced at Wetherby two weeks later, coming home third behind Weird Al in the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase, but trailed home last in a handicap chase at Cheltenham the following month. He returned to hurdles to finish third in a Grade Two contest at Gowran Park in January 2012 and warmed up for last year’s John Smith Grand National at the same course on February 18, when he took second behind Rubi Light in the Grade Two Red Mills Chase.
He only got as far as the fifth in the 2012 John Smith’s Grand National when he was brought down by the fall of Rare Bob. After two disappointing efforts this season at Cheltenham and Down Royal, he shaped better when sixth in a Grade Three handicap chase at Cheltenham on November 12. The 10-year-old came home a remote third in the Grade Two Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park on January 24, but bounced back with a classy two and a half length victory in the Grade Two Red Mills Trial Chase at Navan on February 19.
Race Record: Starts: 36; Wins: 8; 2nd: 5; 3rd: 9; Win & Place Prize Money: £164,913
John Earls, who was born in May, 1961, founded Earls Engineering Kiltullagh Ltd in 1983 and the Galway-based company specialises in constructing and erecting steel frame buildings including equestrian stables, workshops, industrial units and spectator stands. He has been involved in owning and breeding horses for over 20 years, although he had to wait until July, 2007, to enjoy a first success as Hoopy, who he also bred, scored for trainer Noel Glynn in a novices’ hurdle at Roscommon.
Earls has been a keen supporter of Gordon Elliott since the trainer took out a licence 2006 and the pair have combined for numerous successes over the past few seasons, most notably with Hoopy and Chicago Grey, who won the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, 2011. Earls’ son Sean was formerly a pupil assistant with the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National-winning trainer Donald McCain and now trains point-to-pointers at Earls’ own yard in Galway. Earls has also had horses in training in Britain with Richard Guest, who rode Red Marauder to victory in the John Smith’s Grand National in 2001, and Cork-based Susan Finn.
John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2012 Chicago Grey (BD 5th)
Gordon Elliott IRE (Trim, County Meath)
Born on March 2, 1978, in Summerhill, Co Meath, Gordon Elliott was a successful point-to-point rider, who also partnered winners under Rules. He started his racing career while still at school, working at Tony Martin’s stable in County Meath. From there, he moved to Britain, joining Martin Pipe in 2002, and during his spell in Somerset his six rides as an amateur included one winner. Elliott then returned to Ireland for another term at Martin’s stables.
In 2004, Barry Callaghan bought Capranny Stables at Trim in County Meath. When Elliott started his training career, early in 2006, those stables became his base although he moved to a new yard at nearby Longwood in October, 2012. Elliott’s first runner under Rules came at the 2006 Cheltenham Festival, when Brandon Mountain was pulled up in the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle. He continued to send runners over to the UK and enjoyed almost instant success, most notably with Arresting, who notched up four victories between May and July, 2006. Elliott’s John Smith’s Grand National victory with Silver Birch in 2007 was remarkable not only because he was only 29 at the time, but also because he had yet to saddle a winner in his native country.
The winners in Ireland soon followed and Elliott enjoyed big-race success with the former Epsom Derby fifth Salford City, who won the Grade Two Tipperary Hurdle in October, 2007. Elliott saddled Salford City to finish third in a Grade Two chase at Saratoga, USA, in August, 2008, and the gelding also contested the Grade One New York Turf Writers Cup Chase at the same course three weeks later. Elliott recorded an initial Grade One victory with Jessies Dream in the Drinmore Novice Chase in December, 2010, and celebrated his first Cheltenham Festival successes in 2011 with Chicago Grey in the National Hunt Chase and Carlito Brigante in the Coral Cup. He enjoyed more Cheltenham Festival success this year when Flaxen Flare captured the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle. The trainer has also had a major Flat victory with Dirar in the 2010 Ebor at York.
John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2007 SILVER BIRCH (WON); 2009 Silver Birch (Fell 22nd); 2010 Backstage (UR 20th); 2011 Backstage (10th); 2012 Tharawaat (8th), Chicago Grey (BD 5th)