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INTERESTED IN HIGHBRIDGE * T AMERICANS ABROAD HOPEFUL OF STEEPLE- . 4,-CHASERS -_ CHANCES IN GRAND NATIONAL. H. W. Smith, of Sportsmens Dinner Fame, Making Up Party for the Race — American Trainer of Jumpers Thinks Horse Has Scant Chance. New York, March 24. — Frank J. Bryan, sec:e tary of the Hunts Committee, has received a letter from Harry Worcester Smith, Master of the West-meath Hunt, Ireland, and the Grafton Hunt. Massachusetts, stating that European sportsmen are much interested in the probable showing of the American steeplechaser Highbridge in the Grand National at Li erpool April 4. Mr. Smith has just returned from Pau, France, where lie had a few days good sport as a guest of F. II. Prince of Boston, the master there. A party of Americans, including Mr. Princes two sous, Norman and Frederick, will visit Englaud for the Grand National and Mr. Smith himself is going over with Mr. and Mrs. Boyd Rochfort of Middleton Park. Westmeath. Mr. Rochfort is the owner of Kilhugh, winner of the Barbour Point to Point Cup at Punchestown last year. Mrs. Roch fort is a sister of Harry Usher, leading gentleman filler "between the flags" in the United Kingdom and also high in the list of successful trainers. In his stable he has four entries for the National and will ride Ballyhackle himself. "Atty" Persse, who was third on the list of flat trainers last year, and who won the Two Thousand Guineas with Sweeper II., will also be one of the party. Mr. Persse has been hunting with Westmeath for the past eight weeks and going just as hard as he did fifteen years ago when at Brookline he piloted the Duke of Abercorn riding in the "cherry and white hoops," the popular colors of the late Robert Chamblet Hooper of Boston. Mr. Smith writes that he expects when hunting is over to run down for a short stay with Cecil Rochfort at Newmarket, where In- is the Racing Manager for Su- Ernest Cassell. k Thowl Pin. which is also thought of for the Na tional, was schooled and trained last year by Willie Hanlv, the grand old gentleman rider of Tipperary. Although fifty eight years old, Mr. Hanly won rhe Maiden Plate at Punchestown last spring. He and Mr. Smith had many a glorious set-to behind the Tipperary hounds last fall. It was on the latters recommendation that Mr. Prince gave a big prn." for an Irish thoroughbred hunter, the crack of Lanes Park, Thurles, Mr. Hanlys training estab lishment. Mike Daly, the trainer and one-time jockey is of the opinion that Highbridge, the American Jumper, which is being trained and pointed for the Grand National Steeplechase in England next week, has little or no chance to win the coveted fixture. He is quoted in the Washington Post as saying: "I do not believe an American horse will win the big race this year. Highbridge. the racer upon which Americans are depending, was only of ordinary class in this country, and it requires the best tyj e and stoutest hearted of horses to win over the trying Liverpool route, which is conceded to be the most difficult in the world. I have seen three Grand Nationals run, the first in the early 70s and the second in 1879, when Seaman took the race. "The first of my Grand Nationals was won by Deliberate:-, a horse thirteen years old. Seaman was nine. I believe. There has been only one four year-old to win the race since it was inaugurated. The long course and the stiff jumps require an older horse than a four-year-old. as a rule, though I know that here in America thoroughbreds are supposed to be at their best when four years old. "While I have a high regard for the American thoroughbred, I have seen few that to my mind were suited for the big Liverpool race. I think, perhaps, the late Robert Nevilles Mr. McCann came as near to being of Grand National calibre as any jumper I have seen in America. Good and Plenty, I think, was too poor a fencer." Next week will bring about the decision of two highly important races in England, the Lincolnshire Handicap at a mile on the fiat and the Liverpool Grand National Steeplechase. American interest will attach mainly to the great jumping race because of the American candidate Highbridge being 4 sure to start, unless some accident happens him _ previous to the time of the race. Up to March 12, no decided favorite had been settled on for the Lincolnshire, Long Set, Uncle Pat and Cigar having ■ all been well backed and standing level in the J so quotations at 10 to 1. Other horses supported i moderately bom time to time at longer prices were * Le Touquet, Early Hope, Talaua Hill, Lavolt, Castle- J ton, Lesto and Junior. By this time it is more " than probable that others have been well backed. Betting on the Grand National was then practically " limited to two horses, Rathnally at 5 to 1 and Co- * vertcoat at 9 to 1. Both of these horses won in . great stvle at Hurst Park, Covertcoat on Friday. 1 March 7." and Rathnally on Saturday, March 8, and i seem to have temporarily at least, paralyzed betting * on the other horses. Raihnallv was favorite for the ; rare last year, but fell. Following his Hurst J Park race. London Sporting Life said of him: "By an exceedingly smooth performance in the , J Open Steeplechase at Hurst Park on Saturday, : Rathnally to a great extent rehabilitated himself ! in the public estimation. It may be that he had i . little to do. for his stable companion. Bloodstone, , was conceding ten pounds as compared with the ; ! J two pounds separating them in the Grand National weights; Flaxseed had never been up against top- sawyers before, and had in consequence to be taken a good deal on trust: and Agnes II., useful though she had proved herself to be. could hardly be held to possess sny pretensions of beating Rathnally — the real Rathnally— at level weights. What Mr. Oliver Jones horse had to do, however, he did well. He looked wel! and jumped beautifully, while after e Flaxseed had removed himself as a source of danger " by falling at the second fence from the finish, he ] , was left to sail home some lengths in advance of I , Agnes M. .Six to one quickly became the current . offer about the son of St. Pat and Alanna for the j Grand National, and there can be little doubt now j that he will start a pronounced favorite for the ? 3 great race of April 4. a j "In the light of Saturdays performance, the ! J previous form of Rathnally this season reads s 1 strangelv bj comparison. At Haydock Park in 1 1 December lie was a had last of three to Lord Rivers 1 and Olgas Pride, the former conceding four pounds I s and the man- meeting him at level weights. Then 1 s ;it Blackpool he failed to present fourteen pounds I ] to a moderate animal like Ben Ruadh, and again, at Havdoi k Park, was well beaten by Ashbrooks, , Long Water and Prefect in a two miles steeplechase. . ] Two months have elapsed since the latter race, , however, ami oiiltiiwaite, to begin with, and now t Hartigan. have evidently made good use of the a time at their disposal. It will not do. neverthe- - 1 ],.s, to rush to the conclusion that Rathnally must t i now win the Grand National, for unfortunately r 1 these trial M« epleebajses tell us very little beyond I 1 the fact of such and such a horse being very well. . ] Covertcoats victory on Friday, for instance, fol- - 1 lowing on his sterling display at Sandown Park, was I I I 1 ■ J so i * J " " * . 1 i * ; J , J : ! i . ; , ! J most encouraging to his admirers; yet he has failed far to compete the Grand National jouney, and a blunder such as the one he made near home at the Esher meeting would have been absolutely fatal at Liverpool. With Rathnally the case is certainly different, for we do know that he can jump the Aintree obstacles and that he was a most unlucky animal not to be returned the winner in Glensldes year. "It is just possible that Rathnally would not have had matters so entirely his own way at the finish had Flaxseed kept his legs, for the Findon horse stuck well to him right up to the moment of his mishap. Bloodstone came to grief at the water the second time round, but for some distance had not been jumping at all well, and so one was prepared for what happened in his case. As for Agnes If., her performance was a distinctly meri- torious one. Apparently outclassed, she yet con- trived to come through the ordeal better than either Bloodstone or Flaxseed, while it was no disgrace to l e beaten so easily by Rathnally in the run-in, after she had nearly caught him up between the last two fences. Wherever the company is anything short of the highest class, this mare will always need a great deal of beating."