Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pitch in with Venetia and 16-1 Shot Arctic Camper

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pitch in with Venetia and 16-1 Shot Arctic Camper

Article excerpt

Byline: LYDIA HISLOP

BEAU closed the last National Hunt season in rousing fashion, leading from the off in the Whitbread Gold Cup and never sighting another rival.

But, despite his position as ante-post favourite for this year's renewal and jockey Carl Llewellyn's confidence, there are sound reasons for opposing his attempt to become only the third horse to win Sandown's staying contest in successive years.

Larbawn managed it in 1969 and Topsham Bay - only on the disqualification of Givus A Buck - eight years ago, but neither carried anything approaching the 11st 10lb top-weight Beau must shoulder for a strength-sapping 3m 5f.

Although peerless under 15lb less 12 months ago, winning by a distance to suggest he could almost have carried any weight to victory, conditions were all in his favour. He skips through heavy ground and excels over extreme trips, as he was in the process of demonstrating in the Grand National when Llewellyn lost control of his reins and then, three fences later, his mount.

But, perhaps more tellingly, Beau was a fresh horse compared with his main rivals this time last year, having not raced since the Cheltenham Festival in mid-March, whereas horses such as Young Kenny last year and Bobbyjo in 1999 tackled it as an afterthought to the Grand National. Beau and several rivals - Unsinkable Boxer, No Retreat, Dark Stranger, Addington Boy, The Last Fling, Djeddah and Mister One - are in that unpromising position this year.

It's far more difficult than usual to judge how hard a race they endured as most of the field were wiped out by the eighth fence. Beau got further than most but he will be neither fresh nor at his peak tomorrow and the likely going at Sandown doesn't play to his strengths. Reject him as poor value.

None of the National vanquished appeals. They comprise - without naming names - nonstayers, fast-ground types, veterans and backsliders.

Last weekend also offered some notable examples of horses who, having slogged through heavy ground in other Aintree contests, were unable to reproduce that form at such short notice. …

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