Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bud to bow out on biggest stage of all

The admirable 14-year-old Hello Bud is set to have the final race of what has been a very successful career when he competes in the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree in April for the third and final time, writes Elliot Slater.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained veteran finished fifth in the 2009 Becher Chase over the awesome Aintree fences, (having landed the Scottish Grand National at Ayr some six month earlier when beating Gone To Lunch in a tremendous finish), before occupying the same position in the 2010 Grand National, running a blinder and being prominent throughout only to fade approaching the final fence in the race won by Tony McCoy on Don’t Push It.

Returning to the Liverpool track in November 2010 the then 12-year-old put in a tremendous round of jumping to show a clean pair of heels to a host of younger rivals when landing the Becher Chase, but failed to cut any ice back at the track in last year’s Grand National where he weakened from halfway and was eventually pulled up before the 19th fence. Still in front in this season’s renewal of the Becher Chase when blundering and unseating his rider at the Canal Turn, Hello Bud has since put up two solid performances in decent staying handicap chases at Cheltenham and Warwick and connections report him to be looking as good as ever – leading to a flurry of racing betting tips.

Ridden almost exclusively these days by trainer’s son Sam Twiston-Davies, Hello Bud, a borderline case for being high enough in the handicap to sneak into the final 40 for the big race, is quoted at ante-post best racing odds of at least 100/1 to become the oldest winner since 15-year-old Peter Simple in 1853 of ‘the world’s greatest steeplechase’ staged in front of a global audience of well over half a billion television viewers.

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