Regular punters like to think of themselves as being capable of reading the mind of certain trainers, particularly those that they follow closely on a day-to-day basis. They believe they can spot trends in the entries made, the course chosen, the jockey booked, so those who follow Jonjo O’Neill might well read something significant into the fact that his Can’t Buy Time returns for another crack at the John Smith’s Grand National on Saturday, despite having fallen on his previous two attempts in the race, writes Elliot Slater.
On the face of it there isn’t a whole lot to recommend the JP McManus-owned nine-year-old who has hardly been in inspiring form so far this term and has pulled up on two of his last three outings. In between times he ran a solid race when fifth to Tartak at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, but his profile isn’t one that obviously screams “Grand National winner”. Indeed, there are plenty of other Grand National 2011 runners who seem to have a better chance than him.
So why is O’Neill so keen to return the Supreme Leader gelding to Aintree for a race in which he fell at the Canal Turn on the first circuit last year, having fallen when tailing off at the 18th fence some 12 months earlier? Surely connections must believe that despite all the evidence to the contrary Can’t Buy Time has it in him to run a big race in the four-and-a-half-mile marathon.
On the best of his old form, (including impressive wins in decent handicaps at Sandown and Ascot a couple of season ago), Can’t Buy Time is arguably well handicapped, but it would take a large leap of faith to believe that he is going to be in the mix going to final fence on Saturday to deliver another Mon Mome-like Grand National moment. Maybe Jonjo knows something we don’t though?