Racing Week: WANTED — Grand National ride

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  • Jockey Richard Johnson remains without a ride for the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree (8 April). However, it is possible that his search will soon come to an end, thanks to champion owner David Johnson.

    Most of the other top riders have already been linked with mounts for this year’s race but when Philip Hobbs’ decided to withdraw Monkerhostin a few weeks ago, Johnson was left without a ride. Johnson has already attempted the National nine times but is yet to score a win. His closest effort was in 2002, when he was runner up in What’s Up Boys.

    David Johnson’s horses are trained by Martin Pipe and he is set to be represented at the National by both Therealbandit and last year’s fourth It Takes Time, on whom Johnson finished fourth in the Becher Chase in November.

    UK racecourses unite to help suffering horses

    Equine welfare charity The Brooke has launched a Courses for Horses Racecourse Club, and invited all 59 UK racecourses to join. The initiative forms part of the Brooke’s 2006 Courses for Horses fundraising campaign to help horses suffering most in the world. Racecourses joining the club will be pledging to raise a minimum of £1,000 each throughout the year for the Brooke.

    More than three-quarters of Britain’s racecourses have signed up — Bangor-on-Dee agreed within days of hearing of the initiative. Scottish Racing, Arena Leisure, Northern Racing and Racecourse Holdings Trust racecourses quickly followed suit. In addition, so far, 14 independents have also joined the Courses for Horses Racecourse Club.

    “So far we’ve had an overwhelming response from racecourses,” says Mike Baker, chief executive of the Brooke. “Last year Courses for Horses raised more than £134,000, which helped us reach some 26,000 horses that support the livelihoods of more than 150,000 people overseas. We urge all racecourses to sign up to this important campaign, and do what they can to help suffering horses overseas. If every racecourse signs up that would generate a minimum of £59,000, which Betfair will double.”

    In a new partnership deal Betfair — the Brooke’s headline Courses for Horses sponsor — has pledged to match each pound generated by racecourses. By the end of the year, Betfair hopes to raise a total of £250,000 for the Brooke from this and other fundraising activities.

    The Brooke helps half a million horses, donkeys and mules tirelessly working for some of the poorest communities in the world. From Afghanistan to Jordan, Kenya to Guatemala, the Brooke’s teams of mobile veterinary units reach the most vulnerable equine animals providing help where it is most needed.

    Ouija Board to go international

    Ouija Board is likely to have her whole five-year old campaign geared to international events, according to trainer Ed Dunlop. The filly has only raced twice in Britain since winning the 2004 Oaks .

    The star mare finished fourth in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Nad Al Sheba on Saturday with Kieron Fallon. Dunlop deemed the outcome unsatisfactory and there is speculation as to whether Fallon with retain the ride.

    Dunlops maintains that the mare will now be aimed for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in Hong Kong next month or the Singapore Airlines International Cup in May.

    Seven of Ouija Boards most recent races have been outside the UK and last year her campaign finished with a win in the Hong Kong Vase, which she won under Fallon.

    No National run for Fondmort

    Fortmont will not be running in the Grand National (8 April). Instead the Cheltenham winner can be seen in action in either the Betfair Bowl or the Meeling Chase during the Aintree meeting. Doubts over the gelding’s stamina have led owner Bill Brown and trainer Nicky Henderson to make the decision. It is likely that the gelding will run in another Cheltenham fixture later in April – the £50,000 Faucets for Mira Showers Silver Trophy Chase.

    Lord Coe to turn on Kempton’s lights

    Lord Sebastian Coe will turn on the lights at Kempton’s floodlit meeting on 21 April. The former MP and Olympic athlete is the chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. Kempton is promoting itself as London’s first floodlit racecourse.

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