Tony McCoy dropped the bombshell at Newbury on Saturday saying he will retire at the end of the season with over 4,300 winners to his name at the present moment and sure to add to that tally by the end of April. The champ did not let the grass grow under his feet for long with a Hennessy triumph at Leopardstown on Sunday giving us our second leg of the treble 9/2, 4/1 and 5/4 winners on the day for us at Betfan.
The countdown to the £1 million Crabbie’s Grand National begins in earnest with the world’s greatest chase after they closed for entries last week.
The four mile, three and half furlong steeple chase takes place at Aintree on the third and final day of the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival, Saturday, April 11.
Monbeg Dude finished a creditable seventh to Pineau De Re in 2014 and will be given the chance to better that performance this year after three good efforts so far this season.
The Michael Scudamore-trained 10-year-old was second in a three-mile handicap chase at Chepstow on his reappearance in October and then stayed on to be fourth to Many Clouds in the Hennessy Gold Cup over three and a quarter miles at Newbury on November 29.
Monbeg Dude was last seen out when beaten eight and a half lengths into fourth in the Welsh National over three miles and five furlongs at Chepstow on December 27.
The son of Witness Box is owned by former rugby players Mike Tindall, husband of Zara Phillips, James Simpson-Daniel, Nicky Robinson and the trainer.
Scudamore said: “Monbeg Dude is in really good form and it is all systems go for Aintree.”
“I have been delighted with him so far this season. He has just bumped into a couple of better horses on the day. He carried a lot of weight in the Welsh National, which probably didn’t help him, but he still ran his race.”
“We have got nothing set in stone for him between now and Aintree. He has an entry in the Grand National Trial at Haydock (February 14), so we will have to see about that, and then I suppose we would like to get another run into him about four weeks before the National.”
Conditional jockey Derek Fox has been banned from driving for 20 months after being found guilty of drink driving. As well as the ban he was given a £1,000 fine, this is a hard lesson learned by a young promising jockey.
I have backed Benvolio at 8/1 with Hills for the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock on Saturday.
At Ascot on Saturday Balder Succes will prove hard to beat in the Betfair Ascot Chase.
Back next Thursday.
Yours in sport
Kevan Minter – The Colonel