THE 20-strong syndicate that own the locally-trained chaser Fruity O’Rooney are excited about the prospect of a trip to the west coast of Scotland this weekend as their pride and joy bids for big race glory in the £180,000 Scottish Grand National at Ayr.
The syndicate was put together by the Framfield-based Heart of the South Racing Club and have enjoyed some great days at the race track with their exuberant, front-running gelding. Fruity O’Rooney has finished placed in three valuable events so far this term and his most recent effort at the Cheltenham Festival was arguably the best of all when he had the kudos of winning at the most prestigious meeting in the National Hunt racing calendar snatched from his grasp in the final strides.
His front running and bold jumping style has endeared him to racing fans across the world – he has social media followers in Australia – and looks likely to have a decent racing weight on a track that will suit his attacking style. As is the case with many of his rivals, the trip of just over four miles is an unknown quantity but he has a pedigree that gives hope in that respect and will make the long journey north on Friday with plenty of confidence behind him to finally take the big prize that has narrowly eluded him to this point.
Cisswood trainer Gary Moore spoke to me earlier this week about the horse’s preparation: “He is in great shape and I’m very pleased with him. Everything has gone well and he will run whatever the ground, though I’d prefer it not to be too soft.
“We’ll see what weight he gets but he doesn’t need to run from the front. He goes there with a good chance.”
The Grand National run at Liverpool last Saturday provided the closest finish in the entire history of the race and the winner Neptune Collonges showed great tenacity under a cultured ride from his emerging rider Daryl Jacob to claim the most prestigious handicap in the whole of racing.
The winner broke champion trainer Paul Nicholl’s duck in the race and the celebration post race once again showed just what it means to win this historic race. Spare a thought too for the connections of the second, Sunnyhill Lad, whose evident disappointment at the narrowest of losses was clearly apparent and later compounded by the news of the sad demise of their Gold Cup winner Synchronised in the race.
Once again, the media were happy to benefit from the National before the race through pull-outs and advertising but turned on the event post race in search of cheap copy with the fatalities of two horses leading their reports.
Turning a blind eye to all the safety measures and comprehensive medical and vetinery support that continues to support all of racing, the media played on a human emotion that is present in us all, the sadness and fear of death. The closer one is to those lost, human or animal, naturally magnifies the loss and intensifies the subsequent grieving process.
With that in mind, quite why the media should generally create the impression that those in racing are devoid of this natural emotion and uncaringly subject their horses to risk purely for their own selfish pleasure is beyond me and is a claim that is categorically without any substance.
Racing continues to modify itself and embrace every new technology to make the sport safer. Although the racing authorities do themselves no favours with their ill advised and flaky responses to the general media regarding these issues, they and racing as a whole should be more than satisfied with the care and effort they give to thoroughbred horses, the real stars of a great sport.