SUE Smith says preparations for Mr Moonshine and Vintage Star are on course as her two steeplechasers finalise their preparations for next month’s Crabbie’s Grand National.
Smith sent out Auroras Encore to win at 66-1 last year and she will adopt the same practice this year which served her so well at Aintree.
She took Auroras Encore from her Bingley base to the Malton schooling grounds where there is a specially made replica Grand National fence.
The one advantage is the weather – 12 months ago, the Smith stables were snowed in.
“Both horses are very well,” said the trainer. “Both are in good order and at the moment the intention is to run them both. They will both school over the National fences, as we did last year. We’ll take them to Malton and that will especially benefit Vintage Star as he’s never been over the fences before.”
Meanwhile, David O’Meara needs just one more horse to be withdrawn before Rose of The Moon is guaranteed a run for the Nawton trainer.
It comes after top Irish owner Barry Connell confirmed that Mossey Joe will run in the Crabbie’s Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree for amateur riders rather than in the Grand National.
Connell said that the Enda Bolger-trained 11-year-old will stick to the amateur ranks instead of taking on the professionals.
Mossey Joe won on his first start for Bolger in a point-to-point at Dromahane on Monday after connections decided to skip Cheltenham.
Meanwhile, Spring Heeled, who helped give trainer Jim Culloty a Cheltenham to remember, is among 70 entries for the Crabbie’s Topham Chase over one circuit of Aintree.
The seven-year-old landed the Kim Muir Challenge Cup last Thursday ahead of the County Cork trainer’s triumph with Lord Windermere in the Betfred Gold Cup.
Culloty said at the homecoming parade at his stables on Sunday that Spring Heeled would definitely be seen again this season and would run where suitable ground conditions prevail.
Others among a 15-strong entry from Ireland are Savello, winner of the Grand Annual Chase at last week’s Festival for Tony Martin.
Malton handler Brian Ellison, meanwhile, intends running Viva Colonia, who had no luck when unplaced behind Savello.
“He was very unlucky at Cheltenham – three horses fell in front of him at different stages of the race. He had to swerve one at the top of hill, one fell before that and then he was brought to a halt at the last,” he said.
“He would have definitely finished in the first six if it wasn’t for any of those mishaps. He is always careful and jumps like a buck. Cheltenham is really the only time he has had his ground, so as long as it’s good ground he will be fine.”
Tony McCoy rode his 200th winner of the season when Palermo Don struck in the finale at Haydock for the soon-to-be 19-time champion jockey.
The eighth double century of McCoy’s incomparable career, the prospect of a winner proved a tantalising one. Days earlier, he had hinted at taking two weeks off in order to recover from a series of bone-crunching falls that he suffered at the Cheltenham Festival.
“My target at the start of the season is always to ride 200 winners and I think if you can ride that amount, statistically over the last 20 years, you’ll be champion jockey,” said McCoy.
“Jonjo’s (O’Neill) horses have been flying, I’ve ridden lots of winners for JP (McManus) and my agent Dave Roberts has done a fantastic job.”
Marcus Tregoning is due to have at least one representative in the William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster on Saturday, March 29, with Bronze Angel and Boom And Bust both in the frame for the first major handicap of the Flat season.
Tregoning’s 2012 Cambridgeshire winner Bronze Angel is just 1lb higher than for that Newmarket success, while Boom And Bust – the 2011 totesport Mile winner at Goodwood – also has the Doncaster Mile as an option.
Flat jockey Pat Cosgrave is to appeal against a six-month suspension for improper riding by the Emirates Racing Authority.
Cosgrave was found to have moved his mount Anaerobio off the rail in the straight to allow stablemate Vercingetorix through the inner to win the Group One Jebel Hatta at Meydan on March 8.