Trainer with Pedigree and a Runner with Potential

The Journal (Newcastle, England), April 8, 2006 | Go to article overview

Trainer with Pedigree and a Runner with Potential


Byline: By Doug Moscrop

He's a chip off the old block, so Nicky Richards can be expected to have a good idea of what it takes to win the Grand National.

His late father Gordon twice won the Aintree prize, with Lucius in 1978 and Hallo Dandy in 1984 ( and in Direct Access the inhabitants of Greystoke in Cumbria are quietly anticipating another cause for celebration.

It was a hard act to follow, but the great man's son has quietly made his mark in the winter game and has earned the respect of fellow professionals.

The soft-softly approach he obviously inherited from his dad has stood him in good stead and he is not one who leads you to believe that geese are swans.

Direct Access's participation has been a carefully hatched plan. This has been his target all season and the Roselier gelding overcame the first obstacle on Monday when he was guaranteed a place in the final 40.

Richards has had only three runners in the National since taking over the reins on the death of his father and each time it was with the same horse. Feels Like Gold finished fifth in 1999, 14th the following year and refused at the eighth in 2001. Direct Access was a useful chaser with Len Lungo, but lost his way and changed hands for 41,000 guineas at the Doncaster May sales in 2003. He made a winning debut for his new connections at Ayr in December 2004 on what proved to be the first of only two runs last season.

But thoughts of the National had already sprung to mind. He was sent to Aintree for an introduction to the obstacles for his reappearance in November, but it turned out to be a fruitless journey. …

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