Horses To Follow » Mon Mome

Mon Mome

Mon Mome ran a fine race to finish fourth behind Our Vic and Palypso De Creek in the Peter March Chase at Haydock on Saturday. This was just his third run of the season, his third since his heroics at Aintree last April, and it was by far his best. He travelled and jumped well, he got a bit outpaced when they quickened at the end of the back straight, but he stayed on well up the home straight to finish fourth.

The Aintree Grand National is obviously Mon Mome’s target again this year, and there is little doubt that Venetia Williams is building his season so that he will peak in early April. In that contest, this was most encouraging. This three-mile trip is almost certainly short of his best these days, and the heavy ground was not ideal – his three highest RPRs since January 2007 have been achieved on good or good to soft ground. The handicapper dropped him 3lb for this performance, with the result that he is now only 5lb higher than he was when he won the National last year. That is quite astonishing. Comply Or Die was 15lb higher for the 2009 National than he was when he won it in 2008, the 2007 winner Silver Birch was 10lb higher when he tried to repeat the feat in 2009, two years later, having missed the 2008 renewal, Numbersixvalverde was 11lb higher in 2007, having won the race in 2006, and Hedgehunter was 12lb higher in 2006 having won it in 2005. There is the Aintree factor, and no doubt the British handicapper will give Mon Mome a few extra pounds for that, but he still can’t be more than a couple of pounds higher than his official mark for the National, and that could mean that he will be leniently handicapped. I am not sure that he got the credit that he deserved for winning the race last year. It often happens with big-priced winners, and they don’t get much bigger than 100/1, but he won the race on merit, he ran away from his rivals from the last fence, he had the right horses in Comply Or Die, My Will, State Of Play, Big Fellow Thanks and Butler’s Cabin immediately behind him (five of the highest seven horses in the betting filled five of the first seven places). He has now jumped around the course twice, he obviously likes the place and, unlike last year, when it was an after-thought after a six-race season that included slogs in the Blue Square Chase and the Midlands National, he has been trained for the race since the start of this season. He is still only 10 years old, he is the right age for the race, (10-year-olds have won three of the last 10 renewals from just 22% of the runners) and current odds of 25/1 are more than fair. He has to be on your Grand National shortlist at this stage.

23rd January 2010