Sunnyhillboy’s late and arguably controversial withdrawal from the Gold Cup on Friday raised plenty of eyebrows around Prestbury Park and beyond, however, anyone holding ante-post slips on Jonjo O’Neill’s 10-year-old for the Grand National should be anything but worried.
With a replacement for Davy Russell on second favourite and eventual runner-up Sir Des Champs yet to be found it seemed almost inevitable that the 33/1 shot at the time would not make the line-up, thus freeing up the services of AP McCoy. Reports of a poor scope were fully accepted by the BHA and the 16-time champion was soon changing in to Gigginstown’s famous colours.
As quickly as outfits were being switched O’Neill confirmed that JP McManus’ popular gelding would go straight to the big race on Merseyside, with crucially, no hint that his appearance in April was in any real doubt.
Currently a 20/1 shot in the market, the fact that Sunnyhillboy will arrive at the tape fully fresh has got to be considered a positive as there is no doubt that recovering from what would have been a grueling test in the Cotswolds, regardless of the end result, would have been tough.
Instead last year’s impressive Kim Muir winner will come to Aintree with no recent scars and fit and firing in a bid to avenge his owner’s excruciating and sobering memories of the 2012 contest.
His agonising nose defeat to Neptunes Collognes twelve months ago is a perfect advertisement of his credentials this time around without even considering his other achievements.
There is no debate about the talent of a horse that rarely disappoints and with eight victories from 25 starts there need be no concerns over his aptitude for the winning line.
For many it was disappointing not to be able to see how Sunnyhillboy would perform at the very highest level, but come 6th April his absence could very well be forgotten for good.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing