Monday January 30

You would have needed a rating of 145 to get a run in last year’s Grand National, so connections of Ziga Boy, one of three winners for Barbury when he captured the Sky Bet Chase for the second year running at Doncaster on Saturday, cannot wait for BHA senior handicapper Phil Smith to release his revised ratings tomorrow morning, so as to see whether their grey hero has a realistic chance of making the cut at Aintree on April 8.

Alan said:”Ziga Boy won off 137 on Town Moor, and, while he will definitely get a hike in the weights, we have to wait and see if it will be enough to get us in the National, though he clearly loves Doncaster so we could maybe go back there beforehand if he falls a few pounds short.

“He jumped super out in front on Saturday and Tom Bellamy gave him a cracking ride and got him into a terrific rhythm, and we’ve always thought he could be a National horse one day, so let’s hope he gets his chance this year.”

As with Ziga Boy, Alan feared that the morning rain might scupper the chance of Mia’s Storm in the opener at Doncaster, but she toughed it out to win, and, doubtless she will now be back on a break until the spring if the weather finally turns, but our other winner, William H Bonney, might well carry his penalty in the valuable Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday week, having won the competitive Cheltenham finale in good style.

However, while delighted with his three-timer, Alan was equally chuffed with the performances of both the defeated Uxizandre (Clarence House Chase) and Smad Place (Cotswold Chase) at Cheltenham.

He added:”I could not have been more pleased with Uxizandre if I had been standing in the winner’s enclosure at Cheltenham instead of the place reserved for the second. He exceeded all my expectations as I felt sure he would be race-rusty, but he has run an absolute blinder and Barry (Geraghty) gave him a wonderful ride.

“Uxizandre took a right old blow after the race and will come on an awful lot for what was his first race for almost two years, and his next race will be at the Cheltenham Festival, with a repeat bid for the Ryanair Chase, which he won in 2015, probably more likely than the Champion Chase.

“As for Smad Place, who finished third to the ill-fated Many Clouds after a bold, front-running display, Alan said:”He jumped super and he’ll go straight for the Gold Cup. I was well pleased with him, too.”