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HORSERACING : Smarty on his Mark in Becher.

Byline: ROCKAVON

IT'S thrill-a-second time as the big Grand National fences come into play at Aintree this afternoon.

And I'm hoping to be a real smarty-pants when it comes to finding the winner of the televised Tote Becher Chase which has a cracking 15-strong field.

Smarty (2.40), runner-up to Red Marauder in this year's Grand National is back for a taste of real thing again after Mark Pitman gave him warm-up win at lowly Plumpton.

Some have carped over Smarty's Aintree form as there were only four finishers in the National and he would have needed a loudhailer to communicate with the winner, who was more than 30 lengths ahead at the line. However, I believe Smarty is well in here and with Timmy Murphy suspended stormin' Norman Williamson will do nicely at the steering wheel.

Kings Castle (2.05) can continue his comeback and make it a Williamson double in the Stanley Children In Need Handicap Hurdle. He looked a decent prospect when winning a NH Flat race and a novice hurdle two years ago before injury forced him onto the sidelines.

After a promising fourth on his return at Chepstow, Kings Castle scored a very smooth victory at Wincanton a fortnight ago. A 6lb rise in the weights since should have all the effect of a fly-swatter.

If you're after the alternative National, Plumpton stages its own variety and Mary Reveley has made the long haul to West Sussex with the frustrating Sad Mad Bad (2.50) who finally hit the gong last time at Uttoxeter.

This course bears more resemblance to a helter skelter than the easier turns of the Midlands track, but that may play into jockey Alan Dempsey's hands as it could keep keep up Sad Mad Bad's interest.

The main race apart, this could be a Tony McCoy benefit day with So Money (1.45) on of four likely strikes for the champion.
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Racing
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 25, 2001
Words:320
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