Fergie time: Give Me A Copper bags Badger Beers and Grand National might be aim
Sir Alex Ferguson has Liverpool in his sights but it has nothing to do with football.
The legendary former Manchester United manager is part-owner of Badger Beers Silver Trophy Handicap Chase winner Give Me A Copper, who put in a performance in the Listed race that had trainer Paul Nicholls thinking of Aintree next April.
Ferguson, standing next to Nicholls, let slip a wry smile at that suggestion, remembering seeing his Gold Cup fourth What A Friend fall short in the race many years ago.
"He travelled so well in the National but the race was too much after his Gold Cup run and he fell in a hole," recalled Ferguson.
"Perhaps Give Me A Copper can do better and he does have stamina but is quite a fragile horse and needs to be fresh. However, to win a big handicap on his first run of the season raises hopes."
Nicholls was recording a historic tenth success in the race with a horse who in the morning was seen as a second string to stablemate and hat-trick race-seeking Present Man.
The more the rain fell through the morning the more Present Man drifted, signalling his distaste of the softening ground, and the winner strengthened to be sent off 5-1 co-favourite.
The market proved right as Present Man faded away after leading early under Bryony Frost, while Give Me A Copper grew in confidence with some Aintree-like leaps that took him powerfully past the game front-runner Rock The Kasbah before holding the fast-finishing Soupy Soups by a neck.
The champion trainer said: "That is why sometimes you need two horses in a race – it went too soft for Present Man and you could see with a circuit to go he wasn't going to win as he doesn't like being headed.
"Give Me A Copper has been a nightmare to train, missing a year with a leg injury and his first year back he had little issues – a bit of everything.
"He's one to aim at the Grand National but he wants a good break between his races and we wouldn't be afraid of going there after a long break. He could go to Aintree in December for either the Becher or Grand Sefton."
Despite it being Nicholls' tenth win in the Badger Beers, it was stable jockey Harry Cobden's first, and the winning rider said: "He jumped like a stag the whole way. I quietly fancied him all week and he was just a bit unfortunate last season. I'm absolutely delighted.
"He's got loads of class and finds it easy in these big handicaps as he travels very well. I managed to get a blow into him jumping the last down the back."
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