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Paddy Power Column: Aintree set to be the focus this weekend

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I’VE just got back from Dubai where my mammy’s horse Sole Power disappointingly failed to get in the money in the Al Quoz Sprint which went the way of Hong Kong’s Amber Sky.

Every cloud has a silver lining and it’s just possible that we were beaten before the off as the first three home came from stalls eight to 12, while we were drawn in berth two which meant that our fellow was forced to race in the middle of the course while the leader kicked on on the stands’ rail.

That’s enough of the excuses – many congratulations to winning connections – and hopefully our horse will give us some more brilliant days out later in the season.

A huge well done to Kildare trainer Michael Halford who secured his first victory on World Cup night as Certerach under Jamie Spencer landed the Dubai Gold Cup. Connections had been intending bringing him there a year earlier but injury scuppered those plans.

Other notable victories on the night included home team Godolphin scoring in the World Cup with African Story for popular trainer Saeed bin Suroor and former top jumps jockey Jamie Osborne picking up the biggest win of his training career with Toast Of New York in the UAE Derby.

I tipped up Triolo D’Alene for Saturday’s Grand National in another newspaper but I quite often find with races like this your mind can keep changing and that’s exactly what’s happened as I now think Prince De Beauchene at a current 16-1 and Lion Na Bearnai (28-1) will dead heat for Ireland.

I’ve never known a year like it for a dearth of Irish horses at the front end of the National market, but as you can see from my predictions, I don’t think that will stop us from bringing the trophy home!

Champion trainer Willie Mullins has not enjoyed the best of luck with Prince De Beauchene, who has been forced to miss the last two Nationals, including when favourite in 2012, because of injury.

But, touch wood, it’s all systems go this time around and connections have obviously thought that he is a real National horse since he joined them after winning a handicap chase at Aintree in 2011.

He’s a good jumper and despite only finishing fourth of seven on his last start at Thurles, I thought it was a great National trial over a completely inadequate two and a half miles.

Unlike football, where only a handful of teams can win the Premier League, racing still allows for victories for the smaller outfits as Lion Na Bearnai’s Irish Grand National win proved a couple of years’ ago.

The 12-year-old looked back to his best when gaining his first win since Fairyhouse in a chase at the same venue in February, when he proved four lengths too powerful for Competitive Edge, and I loved the way that he jumped that day.

He too was well beaten last time but that was in Graded company and back in a handicap, he goes to Liverpool with a serious shout.

One outfit that didn’t go to Merseyside with a serious shout was Tottenham last Sunday as they put in a woeful performance to go down 4-0 to the new league leaders Liverpool.

Granted I’ve been shouting about the Reds for some time, but Spurs seemed to lack any passion whatsoever giving away the first few goals and Tim Sherwood casually sitting in the directors’ box, for the whole game, would not have enamoured him to me if I was a fan. Sunderland haven’t exactly been setting the world on fire, but I think they might be able to secure a draw at odds of 3-1 at Spurs on Monday.

Selections

Saturday, Grand National, 4.15pm Aintree - Prince De Beauchene and Lion Na Bearnai (to dead heat!). Monday, 8pm, White Hart Lane - Spurs to draw with Sunderland.

 

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