Outsiders Who Carry North Hopes

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

Outsiders Who Carry North Hopes


Byline: By Doug Moscrop

It's five years since Red Marauder, trained in all but name by Richard Guest and ridden by him, ploughed through an Aintree mudbath in what was a triumph of survival and endurance.

Owner Norman Mason was officially recognised as the permit-holder in charge of the chestnut, but it was Guest, as his assistant and stable jockey, who took much of the praise for the gelding's 33-1 victory slog.

Now training in his own right at Brancepeth Manor, Guest is responsible this year for Shotgun Willy, who was bought by owner Paul Beck specifically to run in the National.

The 12-year-old will be having his first outing for Guest and hasn't run since being pulled up in last season's Midlands Grand National when in the care of Paul Nicholls.

Shotgun Willy, successful four times over hurdles, also won as many races over fences, including the 2003 Red Square Vodka Gold Cup at Haydock.

That same year he started 7-1 favourite for the National, carrying 11st 9lb, but was never in the hunt, and was pulled up before Becher's second time.

Prior to that, he had been missing for more than 10 months, recovering from a leg injury picked in the 2002 Scottish National.

Shotgun Willy has been a nightmare to train. He has stringhalt, a condition affecting one or both of a horse's hind legs causing exaggerated, involuntary bending of the hock. He is not the only decent jumper to have the condition. So has Native Upmanship who is also in today's line-up.

"It's not the ideal preparation, I was hoping to get a run into him before Aintree but it hasn't worked out that way," says Guest, whose only two runners so far in the race, Red Ark and Red Striker, failed to complete in 2003.

Andrew Tinkler, sixth on Smarty two years ago on his only National ride, was provisionally booked to ride Shotgun Willy and received the 11th hour call to say his intended mount had got in. …

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