Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Grand National Meeting

The Chair, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Another highlight of the year starts today. The Grand National Meeting at Aintree, culminating in the big race itself on Saturday afternoon, which will be the most watched sporting event of the year in the UK.

There are 40 horses going to post and at least 30 of them have a reasonable to good chance of winning. In the old days of newspapres and no internet on ewould have maybe 2-3 days to know who was running and make your pic. Now, in the days of internet, the entries can be seen weeks ahead and the chat rooms and message boards are full of people discussing each horses chance.

This makes it more difficult to make a choice ebcause one is more aware of the possibilities a horse might have of reaching the first 4, if everything goes his way, the ground suits and no accidents happen. In the old days it was much easier to dismiss any poarticular horse.

It is the longest race in the calendar, being four-and-a-half miles, over some of the biggest fences, so form shown in other races does not always play out in the great race itself.

Last season I went for the first time and paid the earth to get in (as tickets had been sold out weeks before). It was bitterly cold, with a strong wind and it rained a lot as well! I was backing Take The Stand who had finished second in the Cheltenhm Gold Cup and had a nice weight, as well as having a fantastic motor. If only he would jump the fences. he is not actually teh best jumper (far from it, actually). Well, they had jumped half the course by the time they came round to the biggest fence on the course, The Chair, in front of the grandstand. My horse was running well, had a great position and had not made any mistakes. He was alreday second favourite with the bookies who were taking bets in-running, according to the big screen ahead of us. I looked down to take this picture and then back up at the screen. Take The Stand's name had been removed... how could that be? well, he had fallen and i had actually captured his fall on this photo. Although I had no right to expect the horse to win, I felt so deflated and lost my interest in the rest of the race, despite having a bit of money on the previous year's fairytale winner, Amberleigh House, who did carry on but finished well behind.

Take The Stand runs today in a race (The Betfair Bowl) for the best horses in training, a mini re-run of the Gold Cup. He receives weight from the horses he beat (when finishing 5th) and he will like the drying groud, so unless he makes a bad mistake maybe today will be his day - for the 100,000 pound winning prize.


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