Ante-post supporters of last year’s Grand National runner-up were dealt a blow with the news that Oscar Time has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a leg injury. The horse had started this season with a satisfactory run over hurdles at Thurles in November for trainer Martin Lynch and everything had been geared towards attempting to go one place better at Aintree in April. The injury is not career-threatening and it is hoped that Oscar Time can return to action next season.
The 11-year-old gelding came within 2 ½ lengths of chasing down Ballabriggs in the 2011 Grand National which would have provided his owner Robert Waley-Cohen and amateur rider son Sam with a unique double following victory in the Gold Cup with Long Run. Although he concedes it is far too early to make any definite plans, Lynch is considering the possibility of running Oscar Time in Hunter Chases next season with the Cheltenham Foxhunters a possible prep race for the Grand National in 2013.
Recent news concerning possible Grand National contenders has certainly shown just how difficult it is to train a horse for Aintree and get them to the race in the peak of condition. In the build up to the Grand National 2012 we have already lost Scottish National winner Beshabar (injured), 2010 National winner Don’t Push It (retired) and leading Irish contender Beautiful Sound (deceased). With the official entries due to close shortly and the Grand National weights to be announced on February 14th, these are nerve-wracking times for connections of the leading fancies for the big race. Particular attention will be focussed on the current market leaders in the grand national betting, last year’s winner Ballabriggs and Cheltenham winner Junior, both due to reappear in the coming weeks.
One Grand National hopeful that is still in contention is John Wade’s Always Right who has not been seen since running inexplicably badly in Wetherby’s Rowland Meryck Chase over Christmas. Third in the Scottish National last season, the gelding had won impressively first time out at Kelso and was expected to continue on an upward curve at Wetherby. He was eventually pulled up that day and no clear explanation has come to light. Wade now hopes to go on a recovery mission in Haydock’s Grand National Trial in February.
Richard Rowe’s Tatenen has emerged as a possible contender following his game win at Ascot last weekend. He is likely to reappear at Kempton on February 25th and his performance there will be the deciding factor on whether or not he goes to Cheltenham or Aintree.