What piqued your interest in the sport?
It was undoubtedly the Grand National. So obsessed was I by the race as a lad that I even made a model of the course out of cardboard and staged races using a dice and bits of paper with the names of the horses on. Only trouble was the entire field had usually fallen by first Becher’s!
Give us a successful horse you spotted early on their route to the top.
I’d started to follow West Tip in the season before he won the Grand National and remember backing him a couple of times, including in the Ritz Club Chase (now the Ultima) at Cheltenham, before siding with him again at Aintree. His fall at second Becher’s robbed him of the chance of glory then, but I kept the faith and he repaid me handsomely 12 months later, going on to make the frame in the race in each of the next three years and firmly establish himself as one of my all-time favourites.
Give us a horse you thought was going to reach the top but never quite made it
So impressed was I by Mighty Mogul’s win in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow in 1992 that I felt confident that he would prove a very good horse and backed him at 50/1 for that season’s Champion Hurdle. After further victories at Newbury, Haydock and Kempton (where he landed the Christmas Hurdle) he’d shortened to as low as 5/2 before sustaining a fatal injury in his final prep-race at Cheltenham. He was rated Timeform’s top-rated two-mile hurdler of the season at 170 but it was still very much a tale of what might have been.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone analysing a horserace?
Look for a horse who was very well fancied only to flop last time out. It often pays to give them a second chance, especially if they’ve been given time to get over whatever it was that prevented them from giving their running in their last race.
What would you change about the sport?
I’d introduce a maximum number of runners a trainer/owner can have in a race when others would otherwise be denied a place in the field.
Give us a trainer you think is underrated
James Moffatt has only about ten winners a season but his summer jumpers are often worth looking out for, especially at Cartmel which is where he trains.
Give us a young jockey you think will reach the top
Not something I pay a great deal of attention to these days but I’m told Bryan Carver, a conditional based with Paul Nicholls, is showing promise.
Give us a Horse To Follow for next season
Whoshotthesheriff, so long as he goes over fences. He shaped well in some competitive handicap hurdles in 2019/20 and everything about him suggests he’ll excel in two-mile chases in the North.
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