The old adage that suggests that the ideal horse for the John Smith’s Grand National is a classy two-and-a-half miler may not ring so true these days after a long series of victories by horses with proven stamina in the most gruelling horse race of the National Hunt calendar, but that won’t put off Gordon Elliott from having a crack at the big time once again with his Tharawaat, writes Elliot Slater.
Elliott sent out the stamina-laden veteran Silver Birch to a surprise 33/1 victory in the 2007 renewal of ‘the world’s greatest steeplechase’ and will be represented this year by the proven stayer Chicago Grey (20/1), winner of last season’s four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Knowing exactly what is required to win the feature event at the Aintree Festival, the fact that Elliott intends to run his seven-year-old Tharawaat in the gruelling contest alongside Chicago Grey should at least suggest that he believes his horse has what it takes to run well, and it may well prove that his current ante-post odds of up to 125/1 are over-generous. People who bet Grand National money can’t rule him out.
On the face of it though the gelded son of Alhaarth has something to prove having never raced beyond three miles in his 26-race career and always seemed to be at his best at around two-and-a-half-miles on testing ground and for this reason people with a free Grand National bet may have serious doubts about him.
With two miles further to travel than his apparent optimum trip and the expected underfoot conditions at the Liverpool track likely to be quicker than is often the case, Tharawaat does appear to have plenty going against him, but one thing he certainly does is jump well, (having never fallen in his career), and that skill should stand him in good stead and at least see him figure in the contest for the first circuit-and-a-half.