Jonjo O’Neill and J P McManus combined for a Midlands National winner back in 2010 with a lightly-raced seven year old called Synchronised, who went on to land the Welsh National the following season and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2012.  They look to have another smart staying chaser on their hands with Time To Get Up, who justified his connections’ decision to bypass Cheltenham and target this race with a game success under Jonjo O’Neill Jr, getting the better of last-time-out Edinburgh National scorer Mighty Thunder.  The Irish National is reportedly under consideration, but all roads will surely lead to Aintree next year.


With less demand for places in the handicaps at the Festival this year, the consolation handicap hurdle at Kempton Park on Saturday, for those balloted out at Cheltenham, attracted just eight runners.  However, that’s considerably better than the one horse declared for the handicap chase.  With prize-money at an absolute premium in the UK, it is unforgiveable that over £15,000 was given away in a walkover.  While Marracudja’s connections can only be applauded on making the most of a golden opportunity, there should be plans put in place to ensure this cannot happen again.


Noel Meade has enjoyed a fine couple of days, landing the Boodles at Cheltenham with 80-1 shot Jeff Kidder and then taking out the Irish Lincolnshire on the Curragh’s opening day of the new season with Lafayette.  The latter did nothing but improve last term and looks a potential black-type performer for Meade this term.


David Cottin enjoyed a day to remember at Auteuil on Saturday, with Queen Du Berlais, Zoffany Bay and Ajas combining for a treble, but the latter’s success in the Grade 3 Prix Troytown has connections eyeing the Grand Steeple back at Auteuil in May and a tilt at the Grand National now looks highly unlikely.  As short as 16-1 for the Aintree showpiece with Skybet (but as big as 50s with William Hill), Cottin had the following to say when talking to Jour de Galop after Saturday’s win.

“Obviously, we’re pleased that we made the decision not to run in the cross-country (at Cheltenham).  He is a horse that can do everything.  It would have been a real challenge to run in the National off the weight he was allocated. Still, we won’t be complaining given it means we have a horse for the Grand Steeple!