Horses To Follow » Shutthefrontdoor


Shutthefrontdoor put up a massive performance to finish fifth in the Grand National last Saturday.

Never too far away from the front rank, JP McManus’ horse got into a lovely racing rhythm from early for AP McCoy. He jumped the big fences really well, and he travelled comfortably at the pace. If anything, he probably travelled a little too well, he was probably doing a little more than his rider wanted him to, and that may have been the difference between victory and defeat in the end. Left as one of a leading group of four when The Druids Nephew departed at the fifth last fence, the Jonjo O’Neill-trained gelding moved up into second place behind Many Clouds over the fourth last fence, and appeared to be travelling better than any of his rivals, despite making a significant mistake at the third last fence. He travelled easily around the home turn on the inside in the slipstream of the leader, but AP started to niggle away on him on the run to the second last as Saint Are moved up on his outside. When he came under pressure on landing over the second last, but he couldn’t make any impression on the leader, you knew that he wasn’t going to provide AP with the fairytale ending to his career, but he still retained fourth place until well after the Elbow, after which Alvarado passed him for fourth place.

It was still a fine run in the circumstances. Not only was he an eight-year-old carrying 11st 2lb – before this year’s renewal, no horse aged younger than nine had won since Bindaree in 2002, and no horse aged younger than nine had carried more than 10st 7lb to victory since Corbiere in 1983 – he was also a second-season chaser who had raced just six times over fences in his life and who hadn’t had a run since last November. Given how long it had been since his previous race, it is wholly forgiveable that he was as keen as he was through the early stages of the race. Even with his age and his weight, if he had had a prior run to take the freshness out of him, he might have gone really close to winning this year’s Grand National.

At current odds of 33/1, the Accordion gelding looks over-priced for the 2016 Grand National, insofar as any horse can be over-priced for the Grand National 50 weeks away. He will be nine next year, history tells us that he will be better equipped to cope with the rigours of the race then, and he should not be any higher in the handicap than he was for this year’s renewal. The handicapper actually dropped him by 1lb after Saturday’s race, and if his new mark of 152 could be preserved for another 12 months, he would have a big chance in the National as a nine-year-old. That said, he would also be of interest in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November off that type of mark, if that was the route down which connections decided to go.

11th April 2015