Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

You Can Bank on Bay; RACING PREVIEW

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

You Can Bank on Bay; RACING PREVIEW

Article excerpt

Byline: NAOMI MATTHEW

CALGARY BAY can keep the John Smith's Grand National (4.15) on home soil for a fourth consecutive year.

Henrietta Knight's chaser is far too big a price in the betting, yet represents much more than a calculated risk in keeping at bay another strong Irish challenge.

A punt must admittedly be taken on his ability to stay the distance, of course, which is why he has been overlooked in the market.

Although the eight-year-old has never won over farther than three miles, his jumping prowess holds the key.

A big, powerful animal, Calgary Bay looks tailor-made for the National, having yet to fall in 15 starts over fences.

To that end, the precise manner in which he jumps should help reserve priceless energy for when the screw is inevitably turned along the second circuit.

Although the well-worn cliche of a two-and-a-half-miler being an ideal type for the National is nothing short of bunkum, history has shown us that horses with a similar profile to that of Calgary Bay can win.

Gay Trip, for instance, was considered a speed horse before his success in 1970, and had never even won over three miles, let alone four and a half, before arriving on Merseyside.

Other than the issue of stamina, it is tough to find negatives when staking a claim for Calgary Bay.

Knight's representative has lots of class, which is so important in fast-ground Nationals.

A Grade Two winner at Cheltenham a couple of years ago, his performances in the 2010 Gold Cup and in this season's Vote AP Gold Cup were just short of top drawer.

There was also not a great deal wrong with his fourth in the totesport Bowl over the Mildmay course on his last visit to Aintree.

Indeed, his second behind Wishfull Thinking in January is worthy of added scrutiny as the winner that day subsequently earned his spurs at the Cheltenham Festival.

The forecast dry spell before the race will be ideal - especially in terms of him lasting the trip - while he is also beautifully weighted on 10st 10lb.

Knight, famously a three-time Gold Cup winner with Best Mate, continually adopts a cautious slant with her racehorses, and has only had a handful of National runners in the past.

But for a few years, now, she has mooted Calgary Bay as being an ideal type for the race, which in itself must be of significance.

For those who love a National yarn, there is also subtext.

Knight and her new stable jockey, Hadden Frost, have had an awful season - especially the young rider, who was pilloried for riding a circuit too early at Folkestone in February.

Frost will therefore be keener than most to make positive headlines this weekend on his first start over the birch fences. The fact his father, Jimmy, won the race on Little Polveir in 1989 - before Hadden jnr was born - is the stuff of folklore which seems to have gone hand in hand with Grand National winners of yore. …

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