Clan Royal is 9-1 favourite for the Grand National but his return has been delayed, as the 11-year-old is expected to continue his build up over hurdles two weeks later than anticipated.

The JP McManus-owned Stayer, who is trained by Jonjo O’Neill, is being prepared for a third stab at the Grand National (8 April) after an unfortunate run last year. The gelding was taken out by a loose horse when leading on the second circuit. In 2003 he finished runner-up to Amberleigh House.

Clan Royal had his first run since then seven weeks ago and was beaten into fifth in a handicap hurdle over an extended two and three-quarter miles at Exeter. But according to trainer Frank Berry the horse is on good form and will be run over hurdles in the next fortnight.

Motivator is BHB Horse of the Year

Motivator was hailed Horse of the Year at the British Horseracing Board’s (BHB) annual Flat racing awards in London. The runaway Vodafone Derby winner, who was retired to stud in October was also declared champion three-year-old colt. Kieren Fallon was named Champion Jockey for a second year and Philip Makin became Champion Apprentice.

“Motivator made his mark last season beyond the confines of the racing industry, helping to promote the scope and thrill of racehorse ownership,” said BHB Chairman Martin Broughton, “His relatively inexpensive purchase price as a yearling also gives hope to all of us who would like to own a Derby winner.”

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    Berry will be Back

    It will be a month before Fran Berry rides a horse again but he is determined to be back for the start of the Irish Flat Season. Berry suffered a fractured sternum and a compressed fracture of one vertebrae in a fall at The Curragh on August 20.  He was leading the Irish championship by five when his mount Indian Rite broke a leg three furlongs from on August 20. Mick Kinane was brought down on Redstone Dancer and suffered a broken wrist.

    Gingembre turns to eventing

    Gingembre, winner of the Scottish National and Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup, has been retired.

    A recurring breathing affliction sparked owners John and Lavinia Taylor to call a halt to the 12-year-old’s racing career. Gingembre has now been moved to event rider Chris King’s yard near Lechlade and will begin a future as an eventer, should his suspect breathing allow. 

    Yogi Breisner, trainer of Britain’s senior eventing team, has seen Gigembre jump and school and believes he could have a successful eventing career. However, should this not work out, Gingembre could be sent to H&H columnist and former jockey Marcus Armytage to try his hand on the hunting field.

    Boost for National Stud’s new education and training facility

    The National Stud’s new purpose-built accommodation and training block for students got off to a flying start thanks to a £1 million contribution from an anonymous donor.

    The state of the art facilities will provide self-contained accommodation for 32 students in individual bedrooms, as well as a lecture facility, computer suite and individual seminar rooms.

    National Stud Chairman, Andrew Parrish, said “This is a magnificent and very generous contribution which has made a significant inroad into our projected budget of £3 million.”

    Building work will commence during the first part of 2006, with an estimated construction period of 12 months. Full planning permission has already been secured. Further funding is being sought from a range of charitable sources, particularly Educational Trusts.

    Ricou returns

    French jump jockey Jacques Ricou is to have his first ride in Britain for nearly a year this afternoon (Friday 20 January).

    Ricou, who notoriously beat Best Mate on Jair du Cochet at Huntingdon in 2003, rides Orang Utang at Musselburgh for James Ewart – his boss Guillaume Macaire’s former assistant.

    A tendency to ‘hail a cab’ at fences earned Ricou criticism from the British press – to the extent that after one race triumph he suggested holding a race in which horses were ridden by journalists.

    Ricou won on New Rock at Warwick on his last visit to Britain last February but Ewart fears it is odds-against two consecutive winners this time.


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