Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dalesman Could Spring Surprise

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dalesman Could Spring Surprise

Article excerpt

Byline: By Doug Moscrop

Ferdy Murphy's partner Janet is Welsh, so you can understand why her ambition is for the stable to win a Welsh National to add to the Scottish and Irish versions and a few others that have already come the way of the Wynbury yard in Wensleydale.

But the trainer has always believed there is only one Grand National that matters and that is at Aintree, where the nearest he has come so far was in 1999 with his first runner Addington Boy, who finished fourth.

"That's the main one and I would very, very much like to win it," says Murphy, as he watches his two contenders for this year's honours schooling over a mini-Aintree obstacle in his large indoor school.

"As long as I can remember, even when the race was only on radio, this has always been the race that mattered to jumping folk. And that's not just in this country or in Ireland, but all over the world. It's a fantastic race."

Murphy, who has had 10 more runners since Addington Boy's praiseworthy effort, reckons he has his best chance so far of landing the coveted prize with either Joes Edge or Haut de Gamme. Joes Edge, two years younger than Haut de Gamme, is going to Aintree for the first time and Murphy expects a good run from the nine-year-old. People regard him as a spring horse, but he's not. It's just that the ground is usually better at this time of year.

"He is extremely well, he's worked brilliantly, and in the last few days he's really come to himself. I think he could surprise a few people and I have a sneaking fancy he's going to run a big race. He's a class horse and, you know, whatever happens this year, even if it's not to be, the experience is going to stand him in good stead."

Although Keith Mercer partnered Joes Edge to victory in last year's Scottish Grand National, he deserts him to ride Haut de Gamme.

"It was a difficult decision for Keith, but we left it to him. I think the fact that the horse has been to Aintree before and run well has swayed it in his favour."

Mercer agrees, even though there is a stamina doubt surrounding the French-bred 11-year-old.

"We have seen specialist two-and-a-half-milers winning the National before and I hope it's the same with Haut de Gamme, who seems best at that trip," said the jockey. Haut de Gamme has twice tackled the unique Aintree fences, albeit not in the great race. He was beaten a length by 50-1 shot Cregg House in last year's Topham Trophy on the eve of the National. …

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