Twenty years after guiding Manchester United to a famous treble, Sir Alex Ferguson is now dreaming of Aintree glory next April with Give Me A Copper. The Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old was backed down from 7-1 to 5-1 for the Badger Beers Silver Trophy at Wincanton last Saturday and duly landed the £34,000 first prize.
“It was nice for Give Me A Copper to win – he produced at just the right time. It was exciting at the end, you couldn’t beat it,” said a jubilant Ferguson.
“I was a little bit worried, fitness wise, but he did well,” said his jockey Harry Cobden.
When asked about the future plans for the horse, Nicholls said: “The key is being fresh and he showed the promise he had shown, after problems last year.”
“He’s definitely one I’d be aiming for the National,” outlining his initials thoughts of running the horse in either the Becher or the Grand Sefton in December, then possibly going straight to the National thereafter.
After landing the 50th renewal of Charlie Hall Chase for the sixth time with Ballyoptic, Nigel Twiston-Davies certainly intends to have another crack at the Grand National in 2020 with his brave chaser.
In the rain-softened ground at Wetherby, the former Scottish National runner-up made every use of his superior stamina, coming home by three and three-quarter lengths from last season's Welsh National winner Elegant Escape with Aso back in third.
Asked after the race whether Ballyoptic would be heading to Merseyside again, Twiston-Davies said: “He will be given an entry. He was unlucky last season when he fell at the fourth-last.”
Ballyoptic could possibly run in the Betfair Chase next, joining his stablemate Bristol De Mai in the race if the ground comes up testing at Haydock. Bookmakers currently have Ballyoptic priced up between 33/1 and 50/1 for the Aintree showpiece.
There’s every chance that we may be seeing a former Gold Cup winner lining up in the world’s greatest steeplechase next April, as the owners of Native River slowly come around to running him at Aintree.
Joe Tizzard, assistant trainer to his father, Colin said: “We’ve talked about going for the National a lot at home but we just want to get him back first. Garth and Anne were against it but they’ve come round to things, though it’s something we haven’t really discussed too much with them yet.”
A visit to Aintree is in fact on the cards for Native River this side of Christmas: “The plan is to go for the Many Clouds on December 7th” said Tizzard.
“He’s in full work and we’re always going to start a bit later with him, so that’s his first target.
“We’ll see how he is after that but I imagine we’ll go for the Gold Cup again. He’s been to five festivals now and is entitled to have a go at it. He’s in fine form at home but first all roads lead to Aintree.”
The former Gigginstown House Stud-owned Outlander is to have another crack at the Grand National this season according to his trainer Richard Spencer. The eleven-year-old finished ninth in last year’s race and his owners, he Gowing's Eleven syndicate, are keen on having another big day out with him.
“Aintree is definitely the main target. He jumped round really well that day. James Bowen got on really well with him” said Spencer.
Outlander is just one of nine National Hunt horses that Richard Spencer trains at his Newmarket stable, as he predominately trains Flat horses.
Rehearsing for Aintree
The Nick Alexander-trained grey, Lake View Lad, who runs in the famous colours of Trevor Hemmings, will more than likely start off his season trying to defend his title in this month’s Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle.
Another bash at the National is the long-term objective for Lake View Lad after he was pulled-up in it last year four fences from home after being hampered at the rear.
“I’m sure we’d love to end up in the National again. We’ll hope to have a few runs before then, though” said Alexander.