Pendra has form in the book to run well
9 April 2016
I am delighted to be part of the Crabbie’s Grand National, having picked up the ride on the Charlie Longsdon-trained Pendra.
I haven’t ridden the lightly-raced eight-year-old before, but he has some good form in the book.
A former Tolworth winner, he has finished third and fifth at the last two Cheltenham Festivals and won a nice prize at Ascot in October, before being in contention when making a mistake at the last at the same course in December.
We would not want too much rain and there is a question mark over his stamina. But he has a nice light weight and Charlie’s horses are in good form. He’s 66-1 but he looks to be a good jumper and we’ll hope for the best.
Many Clouds is a deserved favourite and sets the mark, but if there’s rain then Goonyella comes into the reckoning and I have a feeling last year’s runner-up Saint Are won’t be far away.
I have got two other rides, including another for JP McManus in the shape of Join The Clan, who runs in the Gaskells Waste Management Handicap Hurdle.
He ran well to finish 10th in the Pertemps at the Festival and wasn’t beaten too far. I haven’t sat on him before but he was seventh in this race last year and shouldn’t be too far away.
My other ride is on the John Ferguson-trained Aqalim, who faces the starter in the Liverpool Stayer’s Hurdle.
He’s a bit of a monkey and not the most straightforward horse in the world. If he puts his best foot forward, he can run well but won’t be any match for Thistlecrack who beat him by 33 lengths at the Festival.
The highlight for me from the first two days was Cue Card’s win in the Betfred Bowl. He has really captured the imagination of the public and showed he is as good as ever.
People say he would have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on that performance, but Don Cossack was the deserved winner that day. It’s called Jump racing for a good reason, and Cheltenham presents one of the stiffest tests, so any horse who passes it in front deserves all the plaudits.
That said, the prospect of them facing off at Punchestown is one to savour, and I would probably side with Cue Card.