AFTER training well over 100 winners last year on the Flat, David O’Meara was dreaming of winning the most famous jump race in the world, the Grand National, with Rose Of The Moon, who took the feature race at Wetherby on Tuesday.
The nine-year-old is laden with stamina and having been given a chance by the handicapper his confidence will be sky high once more.
Having looked a promising novice – one of his two previous wins was over this extended three miles – he lost his way somewhat after being upped in class at Newbury.
Rose Of The Moon was then beaten a long way over the National fences in the Becher Chase but dropped another 3lb and, down in class, he was able to stamp his authority.
Left to battle it out with Real Milan over the last six furlongs, the 3-1 chance jumped far more fluently in the straight for Tony McCoy and gradually pulled nine lengths clear under hands-and-heels riding.
“He won here last season so obviously likes the place,” said O’Meara. “The key to him is he has to be fresh, so we’ll be bearing that in mind for the future.
“He ran in the Becher Chase so you’d think the Grand National would probably have to come into calculations, with races like the Midlands and Scottish Nationals, too.
“We took him out at Newcastle the other day as that was heavy but I felt today it walked more soft than heavy so he took his chance. Good to soft is best for him, I think.”
Catterick raced on Wednesday and Donald McCain and Jason Maguire dominated proceedings with a fine treble.
The Last Samurai got the ball rolling in the opening Novices’ Hurdle.
Sent off the 4-9 favourite having won his first two races over timber, Maguire was at work some way out before stamina kicked in and he wore down Rare Legend to win by 11 lengths.
Ubaltique was the middle leg in the racinguk.com Handicap Hurdle and a change in tactics appears to work the oracle for the 4-1 winner.
Cloudy Joker jumped for fun as the 5-2 favourite in the Cheltenham Preview Evening 28th February Handicap Chase, winning by six lengths.
“Cloudy Joker is a pleasure to have around, he’s a bit of a monkey but he’s a good, honest horse by the sire Cloudings.
“It wasn’t a great point-topoint he won but it was the way he did it and I’m a Cloudings fan, one of my best horses (Cloudy Lane) was a Cloudings and he’s been very good to me.
“That must be over 50 Irish pointers that have won for us this season and I can’t get into the French job at all.
“With Ubaltique we’d got to a stage where we didn’t know what to do so we put blinkers on and started dropping him in and it’s working.
“I’d like to think this season we are not as one dimensional in not having it all for one day and saving a bit for another. It seems to suit him.”
Tomorrow is a truly fantastic day of racing and all eyes will be on Sam Twiston- Davies, who is relishing the prospect of partnering recordbreaker Big Buck’s for the first time in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The jockey delivered an upbeat report after schooling the four-time World Hurdle winner on Monday and he received another timely boost by riding a treble at Leicester on Tuesday.
Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, the jockey said: “If you just go and do what you normally do, then hopefully things will go right. Big Buck’s is a very, very exciting horse and I am very lucky guy.
“After sitting on him the other day, I couldn’t be happier.
He just finds everything very easy. I did three kind of routine canters on him last Friday and then schooled him.
“Everything for him is very, very easy. It is all in his stride - he is never out of breath or doing anything that is too strenuous. He just has that engine – he is a top horse.
“I am looking forward to it.
It is a nice position to be in because you are riding the best horse in the race. Do things right and hopefully it will work out.”
There is also a cracking meeting at Doncaster tomorrow with the SkyBet Chase being the feature. Paul Nicholls, well represented at Cheltenham, has a chance in this race with Unioniste.
The six-year-old has progressed nicely in better company than this and will relish the drop back into handicap company.
Not as much quality on so but still sure to be a good, knowledgable, crowd for the card at Sedgefield on Sunday.
The seven race card is due underway at 1.10pm and Donald McCain has a strong looking book of entries.