Galaxy Rocks As He Presents Aintree Credentials

Jonjo O’Neill and champion jockey Tony McCoy combined to provide an impressive winner of the big staying handicap at Cheltenham’s Open meeting as Galaxy Rock proved far too good for his rivals in the Grade 3 Rewards4Racing Handicap Chase and in the process highlighted his prospects for the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree in the spring, writes Elliot Slater.

Sent off a 9/1 shot for the three-mile-three-furlong contest, Galaxy Rock recovered quickly from an early mistake to track the leaders at halfway before moving through smoothly to challenge at the third from home. Taking up the running approaching the home turn McCoy’s mount soon got the better of seasonal debutant Carruthers then stayed on strongly up the Prestbury hill to record a five-length verdict over Ballyfitz, as Carruthers faded close home into third. Anyone planning on placing a Grand National bet will have been impressed.

Both McCoy and O’Neill expressed themselves impressed with the performance of their genuine stayer who entered calculations for Aintree at a general offer of 33/1 following this pleasing performance. The seven-year-old had shown progressive form over fences last term, winning at Ffos Las and Leicester before running a cracker to finish fourth to the impressive Junior in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. He returned to Cheltenham a few weeks later to regain the winning thread when easily accounting for Shammy Buskins in a three-mile-five-furlong handicap chase that again demonstrated his seemingly limitless stamina.

His latest winning effort showed once again what a genuine performer Galaxy Rock appears to be and he looks the right type of horse to give a good account of himself at Aintree should connections choose to send him to Merseyside for the ‘world’s greatest steeplechase’. In the meantime both the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow and the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter are likely targets for this up-and-coming staying handicapper.