It’s the Grand National – the North Yorkshire Grand National – at Catterick today and red-hot North Yorkshire trainer Malcolm Jefferson has excellent prospects of clinching the spoils.
There can scarcely be a trainer in the country in better form at the moment than Jefferson, who has sent out seven winners since Boxing Day and who saddled two winners in the space of 24 hours last weekend.
Jefferson runs Sun Cloud in the £20,000 showpiece and the Brian Hughes-ridden gelding has every chance of adding his name to the Norton stable’s impressive recent tally following a convincing success at Hexham last month.
The handicapper has raised him 10lb for that victory, which was gained over a distance just shy of three miles.
This afternoon, Sun Cloud steps up to the marathon trip of three and three-quarter miles. It’s anybody's guess, but he looks a horse with heaps of stamina and he is fancied to come out on top ahead of the likes of the hat-trick seeking Merlin’s Wish and the former high-class Diamond Harry.
Tony McCoy travels to Catterick with good prospects of landing a brace of winners for North Yorkshire trainers Brian Ellison and Tim Easterby.
He teams up with Ellison’s Magic Skyline in the opening racinguk.com Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle.
Although she ran a stinker at Musselburgh on her latest start, admittedly after pulling hard in the early stages, Magic Skyline had previously produced a smart effort to win at Sedgefield from Aintree scorer Hawk High. She is taken to bounce back with McCoy on board.
Easterby has booked the legendary champion jockey for Getabuzz in the Go Racing At Wetherby This Saturday Novices’ Hurdle.
A fair handicapper on the Flat, Getabuzz seemed to appreciate the step up to two and a half miles when finishing a good second at Wetherby’s Christmas meeting. He can fulfil that promise and carries the nap vote.
Both Ellison and Easterby have double chances on the card.
Norton-based Ellison is selected to lift the Tunstall National Hunt Flat Race with the promising Gone Forever, the mount of Craig Gallagher, while Easterby has strong claims with Dark Dune in the Watch On 3 Devices racinguk.com/anywhere Novices’ Hurdle. James Reveley’s mount has finished second on his last two starts and came up against a smart rival in Aalim here on New Year’s Day.
On the Flat at Southwell, Shawkantango promises to be hard to beat in the bookmakers.co.uk Apprentice Classified Claiming Stakes.
Trainer Derek Shaw has his horses in fine form and he placed this stalwart to win a similar race over this course and distance last week. Adam McLean again has the mount.
Norton trainer Julie Camacho saddles Dandarrell in the Ladbrokes Handicap and Barry McHugh’s mount looks sure to give a good account of himself.
The gelding won in impressive fashion here a fortnight ago and, although he has more on this time off his revised handicap mark, he should be involved in the finish.
Also worth noting are the hat-trick seeking Thorpe Bay (1.50) and recent Wolverhampton winner Power Up (3.50).
Catterick today 12.25 Magic Skyline, 1.05 Getabuzz (NAP), 1.35 Alderbrook Lad, 2.05 Dark Dune, 2.35 Sun Cloud, 3.05 Hit The Top, 3.35 Gone Forever.
Southwell today 12.50 Shawkantango, 1.20 Precariously Good, 1.50 Thorpe Bay, 2.20 Dandarrell, 2.50 Persian Patriot, 3.20 Argent Touch, 3.50 Power Up.
Today’s other meeting: Wolverhampton.
Tomorrow’s meetings: Huntingdon, Lingfield, Sedgefield and Wolverhampton.