Famous Bridge hoping to cross Grand National Trial test next

Last Updated 2 Feb 2024 | By Enda McElhinney | Commercial content | 18+ | Play Responsibly | T&C Apply | Wagering

8th June 2019, Haydock Park Racecourse, Merseyside, England; Flat racing; Finoah ridden by Jane Elliott runs on to win The Betway Handicap

Trainer Nicky Richards has pinpointed the Virgin Bet Grand National Trial at Haydock as the next target for Famous Bridge en route to a potential Aintree date this spring.

Things didn’t go to plan for Famous Bridge on his most recent appearance at Doncaster last weekend, but his previous showings this season hinted that the Merseyside marathon could be a viable target.

Richards saw Famous Bridge twice scoring at Haydock already this season and a return there is next on the agenda in the middle of February.

Doncaster a day to forget

Famous Bridge was well fancied for the Great Yorkshire Chase at Doncaster last weekend but things went awry from the start.

The field of 18 did not get away cleanly at Doncaster after there was a false start initially, meaning the horse lost his position and was left at the rear of the pack when they did begin to race.

After that tardy start, Famous Bridge was unable to land a telling blow in the race and rider Sean Quinlan pulled him up close to the halfway stage.

“He’s fine, he’s had a little steady canter this morning and he seems well,” said Richards on Wednesday.

“The race was won and lost at the start, they were all coming in grand and if he’d been able to get away first time, he’d have been in the perfect position.

“It ruined it for him, the winner bobbed out and made every yard but as soon as you’re out of it in a race like that, it’s over.”

Ready to fight another day

Richards felt that his rider made the right call in aborting relatively early on Famous Bridge, given how the race had unfolded for them.

“Sean made a very sensible decision, he felt there was no point going on with him. If he’d have gone the whole trip, he probably would have finished in the same place,” the trainer added.

Famous Bridge won a handicap chase at Haydock over 3m1½f on soft ground in November, having gone close over 2m4½f at Ayr on his seasonal comeback.

He went up 6lb to a mark of 135 following that win, and duly improved again to land the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase at Haydock just before Christmas.

Famous colours with National in mind

Famous Bridge carries the silks of Hemmings Racing, so closely associated with late Trevor Hemmings, who shares the record of three wins in the Aintree showpiece after the successes of Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015).

His current rating leaves a place in the Aintree line-up for April in the balance, with the National weights to be confirmed in early February. Richards will now plan for a return to Haydock.

“Hopefully, we’ll get him freshened up and we’ll go for the Grand National Trial at Haydock,” he added.

“He seems fine, he only went a mile and a half and Sean did the sensible thing. Hopefully, we’ll get him nice and fresh and well and he’ll be grand.”

Enda McElhinney

Enda McElhinney is a racing writer with a growing portfolio of work on both British and Irish racing, with a particular fondness for National Hunt racing. While he acknowledges there have been many great runners; there has only ever been one Denman.

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