Connections Thoughts On Randox Health Grand National Runners
Connections give their thoughts on some of the contenders for the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree:
SAPHIR DU RHEU - Paul Nicholls (trainer)
"To finish fifth in the Gold Cup was a good run and he wasn't beaten far. If he repeats that form he'd have to have a massive chance. I can't say the National has always been the plan, he's just progressed quietly this season. I don't see why he won't cope with the National, he's been second in a World Hurdle and has some good form over fences, he's got the class you need."
WOUNDED WARRIOR - Noel Meade (trainer)
"He has always struck me as an ideal horse for Aintree. He stays really well, is a big horse and jumps a bit big, too. Unfortunately, he is coming off a very bad run at Fairyhouse and why he ran so badly I don't know. It was a miserable run. I think he is in a lot better nick now - at least I hope so because I was very happy with his last bit of work. We will leave the blinkers off this time."
WONDERFUL CHARM - Paul Nicholls (trainer)
"He ran great race in the Foxhunters but the only thing is he is 11lb badly in since Cheltenham as he's been dropped to a more realistic mark but is running off his old one so he's got it all to do. He can jump, he stays and he wants decent ground."
BLAKLION - Noel Fehily (jockey)
"He's a very, very good ride to pick up in the race. It was a very good run at Haydock and I'm very excited to ride him. He's got a good chance. I think he will (get the trip). He's won over three miles up that hill at Cheltenham and I don't think there are any worries about his stamina. Last time at Haydock his jumping was very neat. You don't know how any horse is going to handle the National fences, but he's certainly one you'd love to be riding."
DROP OUT JOE - Robert Aplin (owner)
"It's been a rush to get him ready but he's as fit as we can possibly get him at home. Whether he's fit enough to win a National after such a long layoff, though, only time will tell."
LE MERCUREY - Paul Nicholls (trainer)
"I think he's being underrated. He was second to Many Clouds at Aintree in the autumn, second to Native River at Newbury in the Denman Chase. He loves good ground. He's got a touch of class and has under 11st but the ground is the most important thing, I probably shouldn't have run him at Kelso last time."
THE YOUNG MASTER - Robert Waley-Cohen (owner)
"He seems to be a spring horse and runs well at this time of year, so hopefully that will continue at Aintree. You hardly dare say that Sam (Waley-Cohen) has a great record over the fences as one day it is going to catch up with you with a fall! He has had a couple of falls over the fences and some great wins, too. The horse's weight is exactly where I expected it to be - I have no arguments with his rating. In a race like the National, with 40 runners, you only need some minor interference for a pound or two to make no difference at all."
CAUSE OF CAUSES - Jamie Codd (jockey)
"It was a great win at Cheltenham in the cross-country which is a good test of a horse. He's coming back here having run in it two years ago when Paul Carberry rode him and I'm really looking forward to it. Being small isn't a hindrance, he's just a very idle horse so it's about not getting too far back. If he's there with a chance at the second Canal Turn, he will stay, he's won over four miles and he's won a cross-country so it's all about being close enough."
REGAL ENCORE - Anthony Honeyball (trainer)
"I don't think he's a forlorn hope. He's got the ability to be very competitive in this, it's just a case of getting him in a rhythm over the first half a dozen fences then we'll know where we are. I think he'll have a good go at it, he won't be worried by it. We're lucky to get Robbie (Power) to ride, he's full of confidence after winning the Gold Cup and has won this before (Silver Birch)."
UCELLO CONTI - Daryl Jacob (jockey)
"He had a great run in the Becher, he just got a bit tired after the last, he's had a few good runs in Ireland, he was second in the Thyestes and had another good run in the Leinster National. Gordon (Elliott) is a master and I'm sure he'll have him primed for the day and I'm sure he'll run a good race again."
DOUBLE SHUFFLE - Tom George (trainer)
"Everything has gone according to plan with him. I hope the sun stays out for him. He is showing everything he needs to show at home but we know him well enough now."
PLEASANT COMPANY - Ruby Walsh (jockey)
"I'd say the ground was soft enough for him in the Bobbyjo. He's by Presenting and probably his best performance was in Punchestown last year when he beat Regal Encore. You'd be hoping better ground will bring about a bit of improvement because it will have to. The form of the Bobbyjo Chase isn't strong enough to win an English National, so better ground will have to improve him. He's lightly raced and hopefully there's more to come from him."
BALLYNAGOUR - David Pipe (trainer)
"He's a very good horse. His profile tells you he is either very good or very bad. He does appear to be better on spring-like ground. It wouldn't be the biggest surprise as he's a class horse. He's not getting any younger but the ability appears to still be there."
HIGHLAND LODGE - Jimmy Moffatt (trainer)
"He is stronger again this year and we believe the best way to run him is to keep him fresh. Henry Brooke loves to ride up near the front and this horse is very uncomplicated and likes to be up there."
LORD WINDERMERE - Leighton Aspell (jockey)
"He got as far as Valentine's last year, when I think the rain affected his chance. He won the Gold Cup on good ground, so if it turns up good on Saturday, then you never know. The ability is there and let's hope we can rekindle it. He's been running on heavy ground and that's no good to him."
SAINT ARE - Tom George (trainer)
"It's his time of the year and he has really come to himself. He had a good prep run at Doncaster when he was beaten a head and he has come on a lot since then. If the sun keeps shining for him the ground will be up his street."
VICENTE - Paul Nicholls (trainer)
"He always comes good this time of year. He's always been off in his coat all winter. He was the same a year ago and came good at Ayr in the Scottish National. I have to say he looks good which is a good sign for him because he wasn't that well over the winter, but he was never going to like bad ground. He has come right in his coat which is good."
JUST A PAR - Paul Nicholls (trainer)
"He's won a bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, he was beaten a head in it last year and the most crucial thing for him is the ground. If it stays dry it will suit him."
MEASUREOFMYDREAMS - Noel Meade (trainer)
"He was probably going to finish sixth or seventh at Cheltenham until he got stopped in his tracks at the second-last (when 13th in the Ultima Handicap Chase). It was a reasonable enough run. Stamina is his forte and he just got outpaced coming down the hill before staying on again. The further he goes, the better. "
STELLAR NOTION - Henry de Bromhead (trainer)
"He's always shaped like a horse that might suit this race so we thought we'd give it a go. He jumps well over normal fences so we hope he'll take to it but you never know. He ran well in the Paddy Power and improved next time out when just beaten a neck. David (Mullins) won it last year and has always been keen to ride him."
ROGUE ANGEL and THUNDER AND ROSES - Mouse Morris (trainer)
"Both horses are going there in good form and I wouldn't like to split them, to be honest with you. I wouldn't mind riding either of them round there."
COCKTAILS AT DAWN - Nicky Henderson (trainer)
"I thought he was a Grand National horse two years ago and he's done everything to prove me wrong, but maybe he can just come and say, 'OK, that hunch you had two years ago is still right.'"
GAS LINE BOY - Robbie Dunne (jockey)
"He is in good form. I don't know the horse very well but he seems to be jumping out of his skin and they (Ian Williams' horses) are flying as well. I'd say I have an outside each-way chance but anything can happen.".
LA VATICANE - David Pipe (trainer)
"She's been over the fences before and is a good mare on her day. Whether she gets the trip or not, I'm not entirely sure. She won over three miles at Doncaster (in December)."