In a move that encapsulates his disillusionment with the ‘Sport of Kings’, former leading jumps owner Harry Findlay has sold his interest in the strongly fancied John Smith’s Grand National contender Big Fella Thanks, in doing so hastening his exit from the sport.
Findlay, most notably associated with the outstanding 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner and dual Hennessy gold Cup hero Denman, has lost faith in the sport and in the role of the BHA following his much publicised ‘warning off’ last year after allegedly laying his own horse Gullible Gordon to lose, a charge that was later dropped on appeal. The incident left Findlay dismayed by the way he says racing is being run and he had some time ago revealed that he would be selling all his bloodstock interests.
It had appeared all but certain that Big Fella Thanks would be Findlay’s last runner and some people were half expecting a major coup on the horse, (a way of the working class boy made good ‘thumbing his nose’ at the authorities), but with the news that the Crossed Fingers Partnership has purchased last year’s Grand National fourth, that won’t now be happening. That said, the Grand National odds still suggest he can win the race.
The nine-year-old gelding will however remain under the care of Middleham trainer Ferdy Murphy with whom the dour stayer’s new owners already have five horses in training, including Desperate Dex, twice a winner earlier this season, and Kellystown Lad, a winner at Sedgefield in November.
Big Fella Thanks has been shaping up well as he builds to peak fitness for the Aintree marathon, most recently running a fine fourth in a Grade 3 chase at Newbury, having filled the same position behind the smart Riverside Theatre in the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase in January. He is currently on offer at 14/1 with most firms to win on April 9.