Harriet Graham closed her eyes as Herdsman bore down on Scotswell in the North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick but her pride and joy held on for a valuable win.
Graham, who also owns and bred 5-1 favourite Scotswell, was almost lost for words after the nine-year-old held off the late charge of Brian Ellison’s Herdsman by a neck. As well as training a small string, Graham divides her time between being clerk of the course at both Perth and Musselburgh.
Bounced out in front, James Reveley got his mount into a great rhythm and, after a second in the Borders National last time out, he was determined to go one better. A few looked to have stronger claims with half a mile to go but Barton Gift slipped up on the level just before the home turn and Whats Up Woody was running on empty.
It was left to Herdsman, hard ridden a long way out, to throw down the challenge but the loose horse on the inside of Scotswell just perked him up for the final 100 yards and he narrowly held on.
“I couldn’t watch after the last. When I saw the other horse coming. I had to close my eyes,” said Graham. “He’s a funny horse because we just can’t get to the bottom of him. He’s very one-paced but he just keeps on galloping which is why we have to ride him like we do. James is brilliant for him, there is nobody better at getting one jumping as well as he does. We’ll have a look out for another long-distance race for him.”
John Ferguson is enjoying a great season and Buckwheat became the latest high-profile recruit off the Flat to take to the winter game with an effortless win in the Watch 3 Devices On RacingUk.com/Anywhere Novices’ Hurdle. Rated over 100 when with Andre Fabre, he looked to have plenty on his plate taking on Donald McCain’s Konig Dax, who had beaten Willie Mullins’ Douvan when last seen in France.
However, that one was weak in the market and pulled up, as did Ellison’s Zaidiyn, leaving Buckwheat to coast home under Tony McCoy in his own time, bar a blunder at the final flight. McCoy said: “He did it well apart from stepping at the last.”
Mad Moose will enjoy life in retirement after again falling foul of the British Horseracing Authority. The Middleham Park Racing-owned 11-year-old refused to race in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham last month, following the lifting of a ban for doing the same thing on a number of occasions. At a BHA disciplinary panel hearing, it was declared that, with immediate effect, no further entries would be accepted for Mad Moose for races run under the Rules of Racing.
His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: “He’s been retired anyway, so it’s fine.”