Past Winners » Sunnyhillboy


I thought it wise to back Sunnyhillboy for the Kim Muir tomorrow, ante post, non-runner-no-bet, before declarations this morning, because he was value for me at 10/1.

Jonjo O’Neill’s horse has a lot in his favour. He proved his class when he finished third behind Poquelin in the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham last season, and he proved his stamina when he finished third, after being hampered at a crucial stage in the race, behind Organisedconfusion in last season’s Irish Grand National.

You get the feeling that his whole season this term has been geared around a spring campaign. Two nice runs in handicap hurdles at Haydock sandwiched another attempt at the December Gold Cup, for which he was, somewhat surprisingly, sent off as favourite.

He was well beaten on his latest run over hurdles at Haydock behind Grand Vision, but he ran well for a long way before tiring on the really desperate ground. That should have put him spot on for this, and the fact that amateur rider Alan Berry – who is set to ride him in the Kim Muir – rode him on the Haydock race suggests that tomorrow’s amateur riders’ race has been the plan at least since then.

I still think that he is a really well-handicapped horse on a mark of 142 – which is why we have him on side for the Grand National – just 3lb higher than the mark off which he finished third in the Irish National. The Kim Muir can be a bit of a grueller, the amateur riders can often go faster than the professionals, and Sunnyhillboy’s proven stamina is an asset to carry into the race. He goes well at the track, he likes good ground, he is the right age for the race and he is a the right end of the handicap for it. Also, even if the Grand National is the main aim, you can be fairly certain the Jonjo will have him right for tomorrow, as the National weights are well out by now and, even if he does win, he won’t pick up a penalty for Aintree.