Friday, March 30, 2012

Noel Fehily booked for National stalwart State of Play

Noel Fehily, still riding the crest of a wave after his authoritative victory on board the Paul Nicholls-trained Rock on Ruby in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, has been called up to partner the Aintree specialist State of Play in the John Smith’s Grand National on April 14, writes Elliot Slater.
State of Play has proven himself to be a real Grand National specialist, finishing in the frame in each of the last three renewals when partnered by his regular pilot Paul Moloney. With Moloney called up to partner the Evan Williams-trained first-string Cappa Bleu (14/1 in the online betting at Stan James), the Welsh handler has turned to Fehily to try and guide the 12-year-old safely once more around the rigours of the marathon Liverpool circuit, and the Irish rider is reportedly delighted to accept the offer.
Generally on offer at 40/1 in the horse racing betting to win the ‘world’s greatest steeplechase’ at the fourth time of asking, State of Play hasn’t been seen in public since running fourth to Ballabriggs 12 months ago, staying on from a long way off the pace to again grab a share of the prize money. Ideally suited by a little cut in the ground, connections will be keeping their fingers crossed that rain will arrive in time on Merseyside to take the sting out of the ground and give the gelded son of Hernando every opportunity to show his best, as he did in 2009 when fourth to 100/1 shock scorer Mon Mome, and when third behind Don’t Push It in the 2010 renewal.
Williams reports himself very satisfied with the current wellbeing of his grand old campaigner who has proved a hard horse to keep sound over the years, but at his best was a very classy performer, famously winning the 2006 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, beating the smart Juveigneur by four lengths.

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