Even though just a few days have passed since the Donald McCain-trained Ballabriggs won a gruelling renewal of the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree from the gallant Irish challenger Oscar Time, odds are available about the 2012 running of the marathon contest for which yesterday’s winner has been installed the ante-post 16/1 favourite to follow up, writes Elliot Slater.
With so long to go until the race, I doubt too many people will be rushing in to take those odds. Watching the race replay a number of times it is clear to me that the comment of McCain after the race that his horse always gives his all and is 100% committed to the task every time he races, is absolutely spot on. It is always a delight to see a racehorse who genuinely loves to compete and leaves nothing behind, always striving to do the best he possibly can and those who placed horse racing bets would have been delighted by his effort.
It is this highly commendable trait that I believe should exclude Ballabriggs from serious consideration for next year’s big race as I have rarely seen a horse so completely exhausted after a race. I am sure he will recover quickly (his trainer was on hand within seconds of him crossing the line to bring buckets of water to cool him and for him to drink and avoid dehydration on the unusually warm spring day), but most racehorses have only so many big efforts in them and I will be very surprised if Ballabriggs ever scales the same dizzy heights as he achieved this year.
His was a superbly brave and thrilling success, under a tremendous ride from Jason Maguire, and Ballabriggs’ name will be forever remembered and associated with the great race. I doubt though that he will ever produce such a momentous effort again.