Anybody who closely follows the goings on in the jumps world knows that Liverpool born John Neild would dearly love to win the the Grand National.
A former stable lad with Henry Candy, Neild bought Splash Of Ginge for £20,000 with the sole intention of trying to land a the £1 million Randox Health Grand National and while it has yet to materialise, the dream is very much alive again after Splash Of Ginge ploughed through the mud to win the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Undoubtedly he will be getting an entry into the 2018 Grand National and the Cheltenham win means he is now more likely to be rated high enough to make the top 40 for iconic Aintree contest in April.
With either blind optimism or simply dreaming, Neild had already put a bet on Splash Of Ginge winning the Grand National, well before the horse ever stepped foot on the iconic racetrack.
“I had £1,000 on Splash Of Ginge winning the Grand National at any time in his life at 1,000-1 before he had ever run,” Neild said, before quickly adding: “But don’t tell the wife, she’ll divorce me.
“It’s a million quid but, regardless of that, he’s the horse of a lifetime for us. You can’t buy nothing like him.
“He cost us £20,000, but won us about £280,000. I own him but, for me, this horse belongs to people who can’t afford to have a horse.
“I’m so incredibly lucky to have him. He’s won three races here at Cheltenham – some people have horses all their life and never win here.”
With a solid win in the bag and the prospect of a trip to Aintree looking more realistic, the next step for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies is to get him qualified. The increase in his rating is only half the job because so far, Splash Of Ginge has failed to secure a top four finish in a chase of three miles or more.
He does look set to return to Cheltenham next month on International Saturday but again, the proposed race is still short of the three miles he needs so clearly connections will now be looking further ahead in the season to find a suitable race for him.
Twiston-Davies, saddling the winner of the race for the fourth time, admitted that he had considered not running the winner.
He said, “I was talking to John about whether we were going to run him or not and I was thinking about taking him out before we declared.
“In the end, I thought we better run him though. I think I’ll be out with the owners tonight – they’ll insist on it. The whole of Liverpool has turned up.
“It’s also great to give Tom Bellamy a chance as he’s not having a great time at the moment. John likes to give the young jockeys a chance.”
So will we see Splash Of Ginge line-up at Aintree on April 14th 2018? Watch this space!