Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 17:57 14/03/2014
With the 2014 Cheltenham Festival now firmly behind us Uttoxeter takes centre stage this Saturday courtesy of the Betfred Midland's Grand National at 3.50 and the gruelling extended 4m 1f contest has a very lopsided look to it with Gold Cup absentee Harry Topper heading the weights on 11st 12lb, giving upwards of 19lb to his 17 rivals, ten of which will be running from out of the handicap.
Despite his love of soft underfoot conditions Kim Bailey's charge face a monumental task in an effort to take the race worth almost £57k to the winner carrying such a hefty burdon and it is probably wise to look elsewhere for the likely winner. Bookmakers are finding it hard to split five horses at the head of the market with Goulanes, Harry Topper, Sun Cloud, Are Ya Right Chief and Wyck Hill all disputing favouritism around the 8-1 mark. As the betting suggests many horses can be given a chance to land what is sure to be a stamina-sapping contest and at the massive 33-1 available with Bet365 it could be worth taking a chance with the Evan Williams-trained Firebird flyer.
The 7-year-old will be asked to race from 11lb out of the handicap but his 7lb claiming rider Conor Ring will take him down to a featherweight 9st 7lb and the son of Winged Love proved his effectiveness on the stamina front when second to Emperor's Choice in the West Wales National at Ffos Las last month. Firebird Flyer has since gone on to take the Forbra Gold Cup at Ludlow and this improving young staying chaser can outrun his price at the Midlands venue and hopefully end what has been an eventful week on a high.