Balthazar King finishes second in the 2014 Grand National

Trainer Philip Hobbs was full of praise for Balthazar King after the 10-year-old finished a brave second to Pineau De Re in the Crabbie’s Grand National.

Best known for his exploits in cross-country races, Balthazar King finished only 15th in the showpiece contest last season, when it was won by Auroras Encore.

This time the 14-1 shot battled on all the way to the line under Richard Johnson to hold off the Tony McCoy-ridden Double Seven for second spot, beating him by a length and a quarter.

Hobbs said: “He’s amazing. He ran well in the race last year, but finished much better this time. When he jumped the third-last I thought he’d finish fifth or sixth, but he ran on really well and it’s fantastic.

“I have enormous pride in the horse, he’s one of the best, most consistent, tough horses – he tries so hard. It’s frustrating to be second, but we’d have settled for that this morning.”

Hobbs later told Racing UK that Balthazar King would go for the Cross-Country race at Lion D’Angers next month.

Hobbs added of his other runner Chance Du Roy, who was sixth: “Going to three out I thought he had the better chance, but it was not to be with either.”

McCoy said of Double Seven: “Martin (Brassil, trainer) had the horse in great form, but the ground was a fraction dead for him. Jumping the third-last I thought I had a chance of winning, but then I think the dead ground found him out. Dr Newland and Leighton are nice people and it’s great for them to win it.”

Fergal O’Brien, who sent out Alvarado to finish fourth, was proud of his stable star, who was making his first appearance since pulling up at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

He said: “We’re over the moon. It was a great effort to come back like that after the lay-off and all credit to the team for getting him here in such good form. We would love to come back and have another crack next year.”

Long Run’s owner, Robert Waley-Cohen, revealed his horse had suffered a minor injury when he exited the race, but that he would live to fight another day.

He said: “I suppose there’s France and Punchestown, but we’ll have to see how the horse is. The jockey (his son Sam Waley-Cohen) is all right. The horse has got a bit of a haematoma on his shoulder. It’s a very minor injury. It’s like a big bruise. Otherwise, he’s OK. He didn’t go very far and he pulled himself up.”

Jack Doyle was given a 12-day suspension by the stewards for, in their view, failing to pull up a horse who was clearly exhausted in Wayward Prince, who fell at the third-last.

Source: Racing UK, 5 April 2014


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