Thursday Feb 11

The Crabbies Grand National weights will be released in London next Tuesday, and Ned Stark bids to consolidate his claims for a place in the Aintree squad when he runs in the three-mile chase at Kempton tomorrow,

Assessing Ned’s prospects, Alan said:”He has had a disappointing season, which was typified when a horse fell straight in front of him landing over the first at Kempton’s Christmas meeting. He was virtually brought down and his race was as good as over there. He also lost a shoe and was sore for a while afterwards, but he is back in good form at home now and he schooled well last week. We are trying him in cheekpieces which we hope will help him concentrate.”

Of our other Kempton runners, Alan added:”Devil to Pay runs in the novice handicap chase and the more the ground improved the better his chance. He was going well when he fell two out on his comeback at Leicester and would have been placed, but that race brought him and on and he’ll come on again for this one, too.

Label des Obeaux was in the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon, but we have decided to run in the novice hurdle here instead. He ran well in the Challow Hurdle behind Barters Hill at Newbury, but I think he maybe under-performed as he got quite wound up beforehand.

“I was pleased to see the bumper split as we have three unraced runners. In the first leg we have both Thomas Shelby, a fine, big individual, whom we have always liked. He has been a little bit behind as he had a stress fracture in the autumn, but he is now ready to start. He will be accompanied to post by Sir Anthony Browne, who we then hope to take to Newbury in March for the Doncaster Sales bumper that we won with The Unit last year.

“In the second division of the bumper we run Too Far Gone, a big, backward horse who is just starting to show a little more but will improve for the experience.

“Finally, on the tapeta at Wolverhampton we have Magic Music Man in the 14-furlong handicap. He didn’t quite get the two miles at Lingfield and should appreciate this shorter trip.”