The Listed Midlands Grand National takes place at Uttoxeter Racecourse, on Saturday March 18th. Our ante-post betting market is already live and (as usual) it looks a very-open contest. Let’s take a look at some of the horses that are among the likely favourites, on race-day.View Full Ante-Post Market Now!
Michael Scudamore’s 9-year-old pulled-up at Plumpton, but has book-ended that failure with a brace of impressive victories. He beat Chase The Spud by 3.5 lengths, at Haydock, in a race that also featured Rigadin De Beauchene and Sun Cloud. His win in the rich Eider Handicap Chase, at Newcastle in late-February is the most striking piece of form however. He finished almost 6 lengths ahead of Shotgun Paddy, on level-terms although the race-favourite did make a huge mistake at the 7th fence. Even so, it was a fine performance and Mysteree has a big chance here.
Noel Meade’s inmate hasn’t won for a year and it will be the first time the mare has competed outside Ireland. She was 3rd in the Troytown, at Navan, finishing half-a-length ahead of Gordon Elliott’s Noble Endeavor. Bonny Kate went off as favourite, in the Punchestown Grand National Trial, but she found little at the business-end of the encounter despite jumping well. She’ll need soft ground, to have a real chance.
There have been no victories since 2014, for Neil Mulholland’s Presenting-sired gelding, but his last couple have outings have indicated that the handicapper’s recent largesse is about to pay off. He was unfortunate to find Wyfield Rose quite so game at Sedgefield and finished just a neck behind Rocky Creek at Sandown last time out. The 9-year-old is definitely knocking on the door again and looks a major threat.
Other horses that can be expected to get competitive include Harry Topper, Court Frontier, Flintham, Dancing Shadow, Cogry and Jonjo O’Neill’s Spookydooky.
The Midlands National is run over the marathon distance of 4m 2f. In the late-1970s and 1980s it was a 4m 4f encounter, making it the longest National Hunt race of the year. Synchronised is by far the most famous previous winner. Jonjo O’Neill’s brilliant stayer went on to win the Welsh National, the Lexus Chase and the 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Racing At Uttoxeter
The track at Uttoxeter runs left-handed and the distance is slightly over one mile and two furlongs. There is a difficult back-straight that the runners and riders have to negotiate. Not only are there peaks and troughs, there is a dog-leg to the right.
The final bend is also tough, as it is run downhill. Once the horses have passed the final bend, it is fairly straight-forward, with a flat four furlong run-in, towards the winning-post. Front runners tend to enjoy themselves more at Uttoxeter.
The racecourse, which is in Staffordshire, opened in 1907. Five days of racing were held in that year. Back then it was regarded as an exclusive venue, with around a hundred well-heeled members. Not long after it opened, the outbreak of World War I forced it to close, along with most other British tracks.
In the early-1920s, racing started again, but the course soon ran into difficulties caused by bad weather and the first meeting had to be abandoned. Despite this unfortunate relaunch, Uttoxeter was soon holding four meetings a year. Crowds were rarely huge, but the course did reasonably well as a business and was in profit.
When World War II broke out, the War Office took over Uttoxeter and used it for military purposes. No racing could take place until the fighting had stopped.
However, by 1949, racing was still not taking place and an investigation was launched by Uttoxeter Urban Council. There were problems with the lease. The land was owned by a local farmer who was regarded as making unreasonable demands over the rent. As he also refused to sell the land, an impasse was reached.
An agreement was finally reached and the course reopened in the early-1950s. Nearly twelve thousand spectators showed up for the first meeting and the organisers were ill-equipped to deal with such a large crowd. Fortunately, they muddled through and Uttoxeter was back on the racing map.
By the mid-1960s, the course was desperately in need of modernisation. Fortunately, the Horserace Betting Levy Board came to the rescue and well over one hundred thousand pounds was provided for the work. When construction was completed, Uttoxeter became regarded as one of the top small tracks in the country and a state-of-the-art facility. Further investment was made in the late-1980s. A new paddock was built, along with two new stands.
Back in 2002, legendary jockey Tony McCoy scored his 1700th career-win at Uttoxeter, riding Mighty Montefalco.
There were dramatic scenes at Uttoxeter when a fire broke out in 2006. Fortunately, nobody was hurt and the course continues to thrive. This will never be regarded as amongst the most prestigious of British races and few races of real importance are held here, other than the Midlands National. However, Uttoxeter always offers an interesting day out and it is definitely worth dropping by if you are in Staffordshire when the racing is on.View Full Ante-Post Market Now!