RICHARDS LINING UP NATIONAL HOPE: Fingers crossed for Aintree Saturday with the Becher Chase over the Grand National fences having particular significance to northern trainer Nicky Richards. His nine-year-old tarzan of a horse at Greystoke, called Houston Texas, needs to learn the ropes.

NO JUMPS CARDS FOR THE SECOND DAY: Aintree could race today but the forecast is more rain. There is no racing at Southwell this afternoon so Jumps racing is abandoned for the second day running. Daqman checks out the AW cards at Lingfield and Wolverhampton.


HOUSTON NEEDS AINTREE LIFT-OFF

One Man is famous at Greystoke. If you’re a film fan, that One Man could be Tarzan The Ape Man. If a racing fan, that One Man could be the eponymous racehorse who won two King Georges and the Champion Chase.

Or it could be his trainer, Gordon W Richards, who had to live with that ‘W’ in the racecards to distinguish him from champion jockey and future fellow trainer, Sir Gordon Richards.

Sir Gordon died in 1988, which was the very same year that Gordon W moved to Greystoke Castle and built the stables where his son, Nicky Richards, now trains.

It is Nicky’s fervent wish that he will one day match his father’s feat of training a Grand National winner; he had two, in fact: Lucius (1978) and Hallo Dandy (1984), whose success it was that built Greystoke Stables.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author of Tarzan, was a regular visitor to Greystoke Castle but always claimed that the setting for the story and the man they called Tarzan – John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke – were both fictitious.

In fact, Tarzan depicted the Earl of Streatham, William Mildin, who spent his teenage years and early manhood (15 years altogether) in the jungle after being shipwrecked off West Africa at the age of 11.

Now Greystoke has another toughie Tarzan type, a nine-year-old racehorse by Dylan Thomas called Houston Texas.

Nicky talks about him as a ‘grand, old-fashioned staying chaser,’ which is a bit of a giveaway, particularly when he deliberately reins back, adding: ‘We have no special plans for him!’

But Nicky is found out at Aintree on Saturday, if only Houston Texas and the stepping-stone fixture can beat the rain.

Houston Texas, winner of five chases, has a date with destiny. He is due to run over the Grand National fences for the first time in the Becher Chase, which Richards won in 1999 with Feels Like Gold.

Feels Like Gold ran twice in the Grand National: 5th to Bobbyjo and 14th behind Papillon. Can Tarzan learn the ropes and do better?


SPEED SET TO SHOW STAMINA

⭕ 2.05 Lingfield This is a class 4 (1m 2f), two grades above the rest of the card and should get a more acceptable form result.

Three-year-olds will be four in less than a month now, and I look at cards at this time of year and mentally add a number to the age of the older horses. So it is that, in effect, five youngsters today take on soon-to-be six and seven year olds.

What can beat Light Speed? He goes for a hat-trick here in his first handicap, very lightly raced (011 in three starts).

His yard could be in better form (Andrew Balding 0-14) but Light Speed steps up to a trip strongly indicated by his close relatives, with his Sadler’s Wells dam, sister to St Leger winner Milan.

Avon Light and Romilda were third and fourth at Wolverhampton (1m 1f+) recently, both involved in drama, or should I say slapstick.

Avon Light’s blindfold was off very late and the filly was denied a clear run in the final furlong; Romalda made an awkward start, and failed to get a clear run ‘for some distance’ on the run home, according to Raceform.

But both are maidens and, combining their form, they have only once been closer than 11 lengths to the winner.

Whereas Tiger Beetle’s winning form is at Wolverhampton, Enough Already has scored three times at Lingfield, twice over the CD and is big at 11.5. Expressionless was a dual winner in the Spring but has to bounce back.


BACK TO THE SIXTIES

⭕ 3.35 Lingfield Form figures of 63322222 suggest that I want to be against Mumayaz who has the unenviable record of being a beaten favourite in his last four starts and trainer Tony Carroll is 0-10 over the last fortnight.

Maharajas Express is prominent in the Betdaq Betting Exchange market but you are chancing that a change in trainer (to Jack Jones) and a slight drop in grade will bring about the significant improvement needed on his latest efforts. His form has really tailed off – finishing stone last in two of his last four races. Not for me.

I’ll take a chance with the filly Sixties Chic who has been running consistently well and was only headed in the final stride when beaten a head over course and distance last time out. She’s up a pound for that run bit I think can still be competitive.

Nordic Glory is incredibly consistent and hard for the handicapper to get too mean with. He’s finished 1212 in his last four races where the winning margins have been a nose, head, neck and a neck. He’s up another pound but should run his race.


SHOWING SOME RESILIENCE

⭕ 6.00 Wolverhampton Resilience is tumbling down the weights but there was a huge hint at a return to form over course and distance in October when he recovered from a tardy start to finish fourth.

He’s a previous course and distance winner here and after another short break might be worth supporting against some rivals who are being kept busy.

They include Agostino who looks a little high in the weights now having won at Chelmsford. His third to Ultramarine last time out wasn’t exactly boosted when that rival ran slightly flat here last night.


TALIS TO TAKE IT

⭕ 7.00 Wolverhampton Talis Evolvere is lightly raced and still very much progressive on just his third start on the all-weather.

He was staying on to good effect here last time over seven furlongs and should relish the extra furlong.

The Charlie Johnston trained Urban Sprawl is seeking a first win in 12 starts since Goodwood in May and the handicapper is steadfastly refusing to drop his mark.

DAQMAN’S BETS

2.05 Lingfield (win 10)
BET 5.2pts win LIGHT SPEED
BET 1pt win and place ENOUGH ALREADY

3.35 Lingfield (win 10)
BET 2.0pts win SIXTIES CHIC

6.00 Wolverhampton (win 10)
BET 2.1pts win RESILIENCE

7.00 Wolverhampton (win 10, nap)
BET 5.8pts win TALIS EVOLVERE


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