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Quito misses Grand National; heads for Betfred Bowl

3/23/13 - Colm Murphy’s smart Quito de la Roque, who had been amongst the top weights for the John Smith’s Grand National 2013 at Aintree on April 6, was arguably the highest profile scratching from the ‘world’s greatest steeplechase’ at the latest declaration stage on March 19.

Some 57 horses remain engaged in the near £1 million contest for which a maximum of 40 will face the starter, but Quito de la Roque is not amongst them, connections having taken the view that the Grade 1 Betfred Bowl over a mile-and-a-quarter less will suit their charge better at this stage of his career.

After a couple of below-par performances when a beaten favourite at Aintree in December in a listed chase, before running a lifeless race when tailed off in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown’s feature Christmas meeting, Murphy’s nine-year-old produced something of a surprise return to form when landing the Grade 2 Matty Ryan Memorial Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles in January.

He easily accounted for the decent Roi Du Mee by six-and-half lengths to prompt speculation that he might take his chance in the Gold Cup.

Connections eventually decided to sidestep the feature Cheltenham contest citing the Grand National as the main reason, but after a rethink, Quito de la Roque will race off level weights earlier at the meeting. All involved with the horse are hoping he will add to his success at the fixture two years ago when just outstaying Sarando to score by a neck in the Grade John Smith’s Mildmay Novices Chase.

Murphy reports his charge to be in fine shape ahead of his bid for the feature event on the Thursday of the Aintree fixture, and expects his gelding to give a good account of himself. - Click Here For List Of Articles