All things considered, we have to be happy with Delusions performance in the £50k Challenge Final at Haydock, Sat 31st March.
The horrible ground, the last thing we wanted, made the 3ml if + trip a real serious test of stamina, and bearing in mind the winner was receiving 12 lbs from us, and the 2nd 21 lbs, our fella ran a blinder to finish a tired, but honourable 3rd.
Given better underfoot conditions, even with his big weight, I`m certain the result would have been different.
He finished tired, and the worry was he may have taken too much out of himself in advance of the Grand National, but any doubts were soon put to bed when Sue phoned the following morning to say he was bucking and kicking and rolling about in the muddy paddock, “happy as Larry”she said…so all was well.
So now, after initially being resigned to what seemed a very slim chance of getting in at Aintree, the steady stream of horses being scratched over the last 2/3 weeks has put us in with a very realistic chance of lining up in the race after all, and the butterflies have now begun to flutter by.
Indeed, since the last scratch date, which left us in 49th place towards the magic 40 runners field size limit in the National, a further TWO, As de Mee and Cause of Causes, (both rated higher than us) have pulled out, which moves us to 47 th place, and my very reliable Mansfield mole tells me Go Conquer will not run, nor will Vicente, so thats 45th….PLUS he understands Mullins will not be running Rathvinden and Acapella in the National.
The last four mentioned are still showing as runners so my information may be incorrect, but assuming he`s right, we`re almost there.
All will be revealed on Monday 9th April which is the last scratching date, so it looks as though Delusions participation may only be determined at the very last minute.
Worst pre race scenario, to go to Aintree as one of the four reserves and NOT get a run
Its an awesome, daunting, and thrilling prospect to be so near to competing in the worlds best known horse race, and, despite the enormity of the occasion, I have to pinch myself when I scour the racing journals, to find there are some pundits, such as below, who believe Delusion is no lost cause.
“Another horse to fit the second season chase statistic is the Sue Smith trained DELUSIONOFGRANDEUR. Smith enjoyed Grand National success in 2013 with Aurora’s Encore and with a similar looking profile Delusionofgrandeur comes into the National with an excellent record of four wins in his twelve Chases so far. If taking to the Aintree fences he is another who could well put in a better performance than expected.”
After his last two races both carrying 11st 12lbs, with only 10st 4 lbs to carry in the National, he won`t even know he`s got a jockey on his back !! …..plus the prospect of better ground can only help his chances of running a big race.
Sue has already taken all her three entries, Delusion, I Just Know and Vintage Clouds to Malton to school them over the National style fences available there, and all three schooled nicely.
So preparations are well in hand, but only time will tell whether or not we come under starters orders.