Horses To Follow » Farclas


It was a remarkable Grand National, a fantastic result, a brilliant performance by Minella Times, trained to the minute by Henry de Bromhead and ridden to perfection by Rachael Blackmore. JP McManus’ horse is only eight, and he won with such authority that he could go and win it again, even after the handicapper has had his say. He has to be the first horse on your list for next year’s Grand National.

It was a fascinating race, and there were other horses who ran well in defeat and whose performances can be upgraded. Any Second Now is the most obvious, he made a mistake at the 10th, where rider Mark Walsh did really well to slip his reins and minimise the loss of momentum, and he was badly hampered when Double Shuffle fell in front of him at the 12th. Ted Walsh’s horse is nine now, he will be 10 next year but, the 2019 Kim Muir winner, he should still make it onto your 2022 list. Balko Des Flos ran a massive race at a massive price, he took really well to the fences and he came from well back early on, after being hampered at The Chair, to finish second, while Discorama also ran a big race, starting off in rear and making nice ground into a good position, but probably doing a little more than rider Bryan Cooper would have wanted him to do, before fading as his early exertions took their toll.

Farclas also ran really well for a long way. Starting off in the front rank, the Gigginstown House horse was very good over the first four fences, but Jack Kennedy was happy to allow him drop back a little into the second rank, just behind the leaders. He travelled well though, and he was economic over lots of his fences, skimming through the tops of them, Tiger Roll-esque, instead of jumping out over them. There were a couple of little momentum-stallers on the way around, Burrows Saint jumped across him a little at the 11th fence, and he took a bit of a false step on landing over the 13th, but his rider always looked happy that his horse was in a nice rhythm. He made a slight mistake at the fourth last fence, and he was in tight to the third last, and the leaders got away from him from there a little. But he remained with the leading group, ninth of the group of nine as they raced around the home turn and faced up to the second last fence. Jack Kennedy held him together over the second last fence and, although a tired horse jumping the last, he kept on admirably up the run-in to finish fifth.

It was a massive run from a seven-year-old. While eight-year-olds have now won four of the last six renewals of the Grand National, seven-year-olds have a truly terrible record in the race. Bogskar in 1940 remains the last seven-year-old to win the race, and the best-placed seven-year-old finisher since the turn of the millennium before Saturday was Big Fella Thanks, who finished sixth behind Mon Mome in 2009. Farclas went one place better on Saturday. Interestingly, Big Fella Thanks went back to the Grand National in 2010 and finished fourth.

Denise Foster’s horse is a classy and progressive young staying chaser. Winner of the Triumph Hurdle in 2018 – another trait that he shares, as well as his maroon and white silks, with Tiger Roll – he was placed in three big handicap chases this season, the Paddy Power Chase, in which he was one place behind Minella Times, the Leopardstown Chase and the Paddy Power Plate at Cheltenham. It wouldn’t be surprising if connections aimed exclusively at next year’s Grand National with him from now and, in a race in which eight-year-olds now have a really good record, he should be on your very short list for 2022.
Aintree, 10th April 2021