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Racing: Intersky Falcon making giant strides.

Byline: MIKE TORPEY Racing Editor

THE most impressive winner at this year's Martell Grand National meeting was not big race victor Bindaree.

Nor was it either of two household names on the jumping game, Florida Pearl and Barton.

Intersky Falcon, a five-year-old owned by a syndicate of footballers and managed by one-time Liverpool star Terry McDermott, is a horse we will be hearing plenty more of in the future.

For a horse that kicked off the season almost nine months earlier in a Worcester `bumper' race, the progress Intersky Falcon made was phenomenal.

And the manner of the chestnut's 15length success at Aintree in the Cordon Bleu Handicap Hurdle marked him down as one capable of top honours.

Or as Timeform say in their latest volume Chasers & Hurdlers 2001/02: ``Intersky Falcon drew right away on the bridle after the third last to win by 15 lengths from Idaho d'Ox, scoring in a manner rarely seen in such a competitive handicap.

``He probably hasn't finished improving either and has reasonable prospects of finding the 10lbs or so probably needed to make up into a leading Champion Hurdle contender.'' The issues, the talking points and the great races of the season are brought vividly to life in the Timeform jumping annual's 1,088 pages.

None more so than the situation whereby two previous winners over the National fences - Amberleigh House and Gunner Wellburn - along with antepost favourite Moor Lane, missed the National cut.

In discussing possible changes to the elimination process, Timeform says: ``Aintree has floated the idea of staging a `Silver National' on the Friday, as consolation for horses who miss out on the National through elimination.

``This idea might have proved a success in flat handicaps such as the Ayr Gold Cup and the Lincoln, but it is of doubtful merit so far as the National is concerned.

``For one thing, it seems to be contrary to the measures taken to weed out less able runners, and, for another, the Topham Chase works well as an appetiser.''

As for this year's winner, well Timeform reckon the eight-year-old Bindaree is looking ``a good bet to put up another bold show, given the usual proviso that he keeps clear of illness and injury, and that he retains his form.

``He has time on his side and his name could become synonymous with Aintree in the years to come.''

While as a record of last season it makes compulsive reading, the prime purpose of Timeform is to inform and arm the punter in their battle with the bookmaker.

To that end, the volume is indispensible. Every horse that ran over the sticks in Britain last season, plus a number of foreign-trained ones that didn't race here, are assessed individually and rated, while the more distinguished ones are dealt with in substantial essays.

Chasers & Hurdlers 2001/02 may cost 66 but it's in a class of its own. It is published by Portway Press Ltd, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 1XE. Tel: 01422 330330.

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GOOD BET: Bindaree on his way to National glory this year
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 19, 2002
Words:513
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