Sunday, April 05, 2009

National news

Twenty four hours after Mon Mome won the Grand National at 100/1, equalling Foinavon's record-breaking SP in 1967, here are a few observations...

With the world and his wife watching in, racing didn't do itself any favours with two embarrassing false starts. Six jockeys incurred the wrath of the starter - Nick Scholfield (Cornish Sett) on the first occasion and Davy Russell (Hear The Echo), Paul Townend (Irish Invader), Robbie Power (Silver Birch), Paddy Flood (Himalayan Trail) and Denis O'Regan (Black Apalachi) on the second occasion.

Picture the scene. You're a young jockey looking to make a name for yourself. One way to achieve this relatively quickly is to go out and ride a 100/1 outsider to victory in the Grand National. You manage to pull off this stunt - obviously you're pretty buzzed up - and as soon as you dismount, the BBC's Clare Balding has a microphone under your nose asking you what it feels like. You've hit the big time - you start to answer the questions but, suddenly, Clare interrupts, asking you to smile directly into the camera. Why? Because you don't happen to have the best set of Hampsteads in the business! Liam Treadwell took it all in his stride but my guess is he wouldn't thank her for that off-camera. What does Ms Balding expect, anyway? He's a jump jockey not a blessed film star.

The nature of the race changed when the front-running pair of Black Apalachi and Silver Birch both crashed out independently at Becher's on the second circuit. I'm sure Denis O'Regan on Black Apalachi will feel he could have gone on to win the race. Horses to bear in mind for next year include fifth-placed Cerium (available at 500/1 during the week) and Big Fella Thanks who ran a huge race for a novice. Meanwhile, this evening, spare a thought for Aidan Coleman. The jockey rode Mon Mome into tenth in the race last year but this time opted to ride Venetia Williams' other runner Stan - Stan fell at the seventh.

When it comes to race-reading, I much prefer (languid) Simon Holt to Jim McGrath.

Noted by an irate colleague when attempting to place a small bet on Friday's Aintree racing with William Hill over the internet - the minimum deposit has been hiked up to £10! Back at Christmas time the sum was £2; it was raised to £5 before Cheltenham but is now doubled to £10. What credit crunch?

Finally, finding somebody who had actually backed the winner proved to be something of a challenge for many, but not for us in the Tips' household. Mrs Tips' mother (yes, my mother-in-law) struck a £1 each way wager on Mon Mome with a local bookmaker. Here's a flavour of a telephone interview I conducted with 'Granny Tips' after the race...

PG: 'What made you choose that horse?'
Gran Tips: 'Well, the name Mon Mome is quite close to Mum and as I'm Mum to five girls I thought I'd go with that.'
PG: 'What did you think during the race?'
Gran Tips: 'I didn't realise it was going to win until right at the end. Grandpa said the horse had gone - I thought he meant it had fallen.'
PG: 'How did you feel?'
Gran Tips: 'Very excited - we were shouting at the telly. We didn't even realise what price the horse was until the caption came up on screen! When we went to the bookies the lady said "Here comes the woman with the big win."'

Form students everywhere, read this and weep with me...

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