Nico de Boinville: A mark of 145 underestimates his raw talent and, if he enjoys the experience, then stranger things have happened
Lough Derg Spirit
This is obviously a good, competitive high-class Grade 1 but I am pretty keen on the chances of Lough Derg Spirit. We bypassed Cheltenham to come here and I was very impressed by him when we won at Musselburgh in February. He is fresh and well and in great form at home (I have ridden and schooled him recently) and 2m4f on decent ground on a flat track – he steps up half a mile but he is a point-to-point winner and is a strong galloper – could be his ideal conditions. Yes, I am fairly keen on his chances.
Go back to last year, when he won a valuable Ascot handicap off a mark of 149 by 16 lengths, and you can give him a decent enough shout in this. But it is fair to say that things haven’t panned out ideally since. His chasing career was put on hold after a poor run at Cheltenham in December and I rode him in the National Spirit at Fontwell last time where we could never get competitive and finished well beaten. Maybe better ground and a step up in trip, and first-time cheekpieces, will help – though he was well beaten in this race last year – but his chance isn’t obvious, I admit that.
5.15pm Aintree – Grand National
Cocktails At Dawn
The boss has always thought of him as a horse who could go well in a National, so let us hope he is right. But his recent completion record isn’t great – I took a crashing fall on him at Kempton in February and he pulled up at Cheltenham last time – and in addition we also fell in the Topham last year. So the negatives are clear. But the positives are that he is a very smart horse on his day – I rode him when he gave 8lb and a beating to As De Mee, Native River and Blaklion at Chepstow two seasons ago – and a mark of 145 probably underestimates his raw talent, though he is actually rated 140 now after his recent efforts since the weights were published. If he enjoys the experience, then stranger things have happened!
My National 1,2,3,4: The Last Samuri, Definitly Red, Ucello Conti, Le Mercurey
I will be at the Many Clouds Lambourn Open Day next Friday, 14th April where there is a chance to come and see some of Nicky Henderson’s superstars including Sprinter Sacre, Altior and Might Bite! It is a great day for all the family! More info at www.lambournopenday.com
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