The second 10 factfiles for the 2017 Randox Health Grand National

THE SECOND 10 FACTFILES
for the £1-million Randox Health Grand National, 4m 2f 74y, 30 fences, at 5.15pm on Saturday, April 8, 2017, at Aintree Racecourse.
BLAKLION
DEFINITLY RED
DOUBLE SHUFFLE
HIGHLAND LODGE
LE MERCUREY
MAGIO
ONE FOR ARTHUR
PERFECT CANDIDATE
PLEASANT COMPANY
SAPHIR DU RHEU
 
Factfiles can be found below and can also be accessed as a PDF document here 
About Aintree Racecourse / The Jockey Club
Aintree is home to The Randox Health Grand National, the most famous horse race in the world which is the climax to a three-day Festival meeting in April every year. The racecourse hosts five other fixtures and is a leading conference centre in the north west of England. More information is available at www.aintree.thejockeyclub.co.uk
Aintree is part of The Jockey Club which has been at the heart of British racing for more than 260 years. Today the largest commercial group in the sport, The Jockey Club runs the largest racecourse group in the UK by attendances (2015: 1.95m), total prize money (2015: £43.9m), contribution to prize money (2015: £19.9m) and quality racing (Group and Graded races); more than 3,000 acres of world-class training grounds in Newmarket, Lambourn and Epsom Downs; the National Stud breeding enterprise and education provider; and the charity for racing’s people in need, Racing Welfare. Governed by Royal Charter with Her Majesty The Queen its Patron, every penny The Jockey Club makes it puts back into British racing. More information is available at www.thejockeyclub.co.uk
About Randox / Randox Health
Randox Health is the largest healthcare diagnostics company from the UK, with 1,400 employees of 44 different nationalities, including 300 research scientists and engineers. Established in 1982, Randox now has offices and distribution in over 145 countries and exports 95% of its products. It has four key manufacturing and R&D sites: in County Antrim, Northern Ireland; Dungloe, County Donegal, Ireland; Bangalore, India, and in the Greater Washington DC area, USA. Every year over 370 million patients are diagnosed using Randox technology. With over 20% of the world’s major laboratories using Randox products and services, the company works across a range of settings, including hospitals, clinical, research and molecular labs, food testing, forensic toxicology, veterinary labs and life sciences. Randox has more new tests in development than any other diagnostic company, and the unique patented Randox BioChip Array Technology is the world’s only diagnostic grade biochip. The Randox Health check, the world’s most advanced preventative health check, is available in Randox Health clinics currently located in London and Belfast, with ambitious plans to roll out a number of new clinics across the UK over 2016-2017. More information on Randox products and services is available at www.randox.com, or for more information on the Randox Health Clinics visit www.randoxhealth.com
For further information please contact Grant Rowley, Regional Communications Manager, The Jockey Club (North West) on 07884 655990 email:grant.rowley@thejockeyclub.co.uk or
Nigel Payne, Press Officer for Aintree for the 2017 Randox Health Grand National, on 07768 025265 email: nigel@earthsummit.demon.co.uk
Blaklion (GB) 8-11-00
 
Breeding: b g Kayf Tara – Franciscaine (Legend Of France)
Breeder: Mary Morrison
Born: April 3, 2009
Owner: Simon Such & Gino Paletta
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies
Jockey: Noel Fehily
Form: 11/112132P4/4F12113-4532
*Four pounds well in on official ratings after finishing an excellent second, beaten three and a quarter lengths to Vieux Lion Rouge, the pair clear of the other runners, under top-weight, in the G3 Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park on February 18.
*Fifth behind Native River in Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November and third behind Definitly Red in Wetherby’s G3 Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase over Christmas.
*Career highlight so far came when defeating Shaneshill by a half-length in last year’s G1 RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
*Trainer is the only current handler to have won the Grand National more than once – thanks to Earth Summit (1998) & Bindaree (2002).
*Blaklion was the regular mount of Ryan Hatch (rode the horse in 11 races, winning four times including the RSA Chase) until he suffered fractures to his neck, vertebrae and sternum and was left with a haematoma on his spinal cord when his mount Cogry fell in a handicap chase at Cheltenham on December 9. He has left hospital and is undergoing rehabilitation as an on-site patient at Oaksey House in Lambourn.
Jump race record: Starts: 21; Wins: 8; 2nd: 4; 3rd: 3; Win & Place Prize Money: £230,899  
 
Simon Such & Gino Paletta
Businessman Simon Such and his wife Sarah, in whose name their horses used to run, live in Worcester, while Gino Paletta (born July, 1959) is a businessman and British property investor based in Gresford near Wrexham, Wales. Paletta, married to Jeanette, was a director of Wrexham Football Club from 1990 to 1999. Racing interests: the pair have enjoyed considerable success with a small string of horses, headed by Cheltenham Festival winners The New One and Blaklion. The New One, now nine, has won 18 of his 29 starts and run in the last four Stan James Champion Hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival, earning just shy of £900,000 in prize money. They also own novice hurdler Ballyhill, novice chaser Little Pop and chaser Benbens who has won at Aintree, all with Nigel Twiston-Davies. Gino Paletta previously owned two horses in partnership, Wise Owl and Frosted Grape, who were trained by David Pipe. Simon and Gino took the part in last summer’s Injured Jockeys Fund charity golf day at the Teign Valley Golf Club in Devon.
Randox Health Grand National Record: No previous runners
 
Nigel Twiston-Davies (Guiting Power, Gloucestershire)
Born: May 16, 1957 Background: initially combined training as a permit-holder with his farming interests throughout the 1980s, having his first winner with Last Of The Foxes at Hereford in March, 1982, before the agricultural recession prompted him to make training his full-time profession. He took out a full training licence in 1989, recording his first win as a public trainer in December of that year with Babil at Newbury. He has since gone on to register more than 1,800 successes, with his 1,000th winner coming at Stratford in October 2006. Rode 17 winners as an amateur under Rules, gained a further 17 point-to-point victories, and served as assistant trainer to Richard Head and Fred Rimell. A childhood neighbour and friend of Peter Scudamore, he went into partnership with the former champion Jump jockey to set up stables at Grange Hill Farm, Guiting Power, Gloucestershire, although Scudamore exited the venture in 2001 and currently assists Sottish trainer Lucinda Russell. Twiston-Davies adopted and developed the pioneering techniques of Martin Pipe, such as interval training and regular blood tests for his string, enabling him to rapidly raise his profile among the training ranks. He is the only current trainer to have won the Randox Health Grand National more than once, saddling Earth Summit to victory in 1998 and Bindaree four years later. The 2001/2002 campaign had been relatively quiet by Twiston-Davies’ high standards before Bindaree provided him with his second Grand National success. Afterwards he revealed that he had been intending to give up training but, despite “having a bigger debt than Argentina” after buying out Scudamore, the Aintree victory made him have a change of heart. His business partner, since 2009, has been former stable jockey Carl Llewellyn. Twiston-Davies has had 17 successes at the Cheltenham Festival, headed by Imperial Commander in the 2010 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. Other big-race wins include the Hennessy Gold Cup with King’s Road, three Scottish Grand National successes, two Welsh Grand National triumphs, the Betfair Chase with Imperial Commander (2010) and the Betway Aintree Hurdle with The New One (2014), Khyber Kim (2010) and Mister Morose (2000). His best season numerically was in 2010/11, when he saddled 97 winners, but he is approaching that total this season after 90 winners (up to March 29). His sons with his first wife Cathy, Sam (born October 15, 1992 and William (born December 1, 1995), are both jockeys. Sam is stable jockey to Paul Nicholls, but still rides for his father when possible, while William has returned to riding over jumps this season for his father and others after a successful spell as an apprentice on the Flat. Nigel is married to Vicky and they have three young children, Poppy, Rosie and Ted.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 1994 Young Hustler (BD 11th); 1995 Camelot Knight (FELL 21st), Dakyns Boy (UR 10th), Young Hustler (UR 3rd); 1996 Young Hustler (5th), Captain Dibble (11th); 1997 Camelot Knight (3rd), Dakyns Boy (8th), Grange Brake (Refused 27th); 1998 EARTH SUMMIT (WON); 1999 Earth Summit (8th), Camelot Knight (BD 22nd); 2000 Camelot Knight (15th); 2001 Beau (UR 20th), Spanish Main (FELL 1st); 2002 BINDAREE (WON), Frantic Tan (UR 5th), Beau (UR 14th); 2003 Bindaree (6th); 2004 Shardam (UR 3rd), Bindaree (UR 6th); 2005 Bindaree (11th), 2006 Baron Windrush (UR 3rd); 2007 Knowhere (UR 8th); Naunton Brook (PU 23rd), 2008 Fundamentalist (FELL 3rd), Ardaghey (FELL 4th), Naunton Brook (PU 19th), Knowhere (UR 25th); 2009 Battlecry (16th), Ollie Magern (FELL 2nd), Fundamentalist (PU 21st), Knowhere (PU 25th); 2010 Hello Bud (5th), Irish Raptor (FELL 10th), Beat The Boys (PU 19th), Ballyfitz (FELL 22nd), Ollie Magern (PU 28th); 2011 Hello Bud (PU 29th), Grand Slam Hero (FELL 13th); 2012 Hello Bud (7th), Viking Blond (FELL 1st); 2013 Major Malarkey (11th), Viking Blond (PU 15th), Imperial Commander (PU 22nd); 2016 Double Ross (PU 26th)
 
Noel Fehily
Born: December 24, 1974 in County Cork, Ireland Background: The son a farmer, he gained experience on the point-to-point circuit and in hunter chases as an amateur rider in his home country. He moved to Britain in 1998 and had his first success on Ivy Boy at Plumpton on November 16, 1998. He rode 12 winners in that first campaign and turned professional the following season. Has been dogged by injury throughout his career, but is currently enjoying a fine run as a freelance and has won plenty of major races in recent years, including back-to-back victories aboard Silviniaco Conti in the 2013 & 2014 G1 King George VI Chase. Has partnered five Cheltenham Festival winners, headed by a memorable double this year on Buveur D’Air (for trainer Nicky Henderson) in the G1 Stan James Champion Hurdle and Special Tiara (Henry de Bromhead IRE) in the G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. Fehily rides a lot for trainers Harry Fry and Neil Mulholland. His best total in a season was 127 in 2013/2014 and he is up to 106 this season (by March 30).
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2001 Moral Support (REF 8th); 2002 Celibate (6th); 2003 Good Shuil (PU 19th); 2004 Alcapone (PU 25th); 2005 Merchants Friend (FELL 10th); 2006 Risk Accessor (5th); 2007 Naunton Brook (PU 23rd); 2008 Bob Hall (PU 19th); 2009 Can’t Buy Time (FELL 18th); 2012 State Of Play (UR 5th); 2013 Treacle (UR 8th); 2014: Rocky Creek (5th); 2015 Unioniste (FELL 5th); 2016 Silviniaco Conti (PU 14th)
 
 
Definitly Red (IRE) 8-10-11
Breeding: 8 ch g Definite Article – The Red Wench (Aahsaylad)
Breeder: James Keegan
Born: March 5, 2009
Owner: Phil Martin
Trainer: Brian Ellison
Jockey: Danny Cook
Form: 117/1211P/2122F1-131U1
*10 pounds well in at the weights, the most of any horse in the 2017 Randox Health Grand National, which explains why he has been backed down to near favouritism.
*Warmed up for Aintree with an impressive 14-length victory over last year’s Grand National runner-up The Last Samuri in Grimthorpe Handicap Chase at Doncaster on March 4, 2017, after the weights for the £1-million Aintree race had been published the month before.
*Previously successful this season in G3 Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day.
*Also a Listed winner at Ayr in April, 2016, successful at G2 level and twice successful at Listed level in bumpers.
*Went into training with Steve Gollings and won three races before being transferred to Brian Ellison in December, 2014.
*Winning Irish point-to-pointer who was sold to owner Phil Martin for £110,000 at a sale a Cheltenham in November, 2013.
*The spelling of his name is down to it being written that way by his point-to-point handler in Ireland, Bryan Marshall, at the time of registration. He is by Definite Article out of The Red Wench.
Jump race record: Starts: 19; Wins: 10; 2nd: 4; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £189,700
Phil Martin
Sheffield-born Phil Martin (born May 23, 1952) is a retired businessman who lives at Tickhill, south of Doncaster. Having always promised himself a racehorse if he became successful in business, Martin first entered racehorse ownership in 2006 on selling his engine lubricant business. One of his first significant winners came at Aintree in 2008, when the Tom Tate-trained Honest John took the G2 Champion Bumper. Martin’s horses were primarily trained by Lincolnshire-based Steve Gollings before the pair parted company at the end of 2014. He and his wife Julie now have over 40 horses with Brian Ellison. They each have their own horses. In addition to Definitely Red, the Martins’ best horses have included G2 Old Roan Chase victor Conquisto and Forest Bihan, successful in the G2 Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster this season. They have had 23 winners (up to March 29) this Jump season, following on from their best total of 37 in 2015/2016. On the Flat, their best total has been 12 winners in 2015.
No previous Randox Health Grand National runners
Brian Ellison (Malton, North Yorkshire)
Born: June 28, 1952, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne Background: One of eight children, his father was a Tyneside shipyard worker, while his mother worked as a cleaner in a Newcastle Hospital. Ellison has established himself as one of the country’s leading dual-purpose trainers, based at Spring Cottage Stables in Malton, North Yorkshire, which has grown over the years from 23 to 100 boxes. He bought the 30-box Highfield Stables across the road in 2013. His wife Claire plays a big part in the running of the business, helping Brian feed the horses and being in charge of the administration. Daughter Jessica assists and is responsible for the staff.Riding Career: After his hopes of becoming a professional footballer were dashed when he was told he was too short for the job, he decided to become a jockey, despite the fact that he had never ridden a horse. He left school aged 15 to join Harry Blackshaw’s stable and partnered his first winner at 17. One of the highlights of a 21-year career as a journeyman Jump jockey, from 1968 to 1989, came when riding Tex to defeat the mighty Tingle Creek in a Worcester handicap chase in 1976. Training Career: He ran a livery yard for a couple of years and was assistant trainer to Don Eddy and Nigel Tinkler. He began training with three horses in leased stables in County Durham in 1989 and his first Jump winner was Corbett’s Diamond that November at Hexham. He bought his present base in 2000, bringing 25 horses with him, and enjoyed his 1,000th winner on July 15, 2016, when Robero scored at Newmarket. He has a capacity for 130 horses in training. His best season over jumps came in 2015/2016 (48 winners), though he could beat that total this season with 40 (up to March 29), while on the Flat it was 62 in 2013. He has had runners in Australia and Dubai. Big-Race Wins – Flat: Ebor Handicap (2011 Moyenne Corniche), Superior Mile (2013 Top Notch Tonto, 2015 Balty Boys), Irish Cesarewitch (2013 Montefeltro). Jump: Finale Juvenile Hurdle (2011 Marsh Warbler), Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase (2016 Definitly Red), Lightning Novices’ Chase (2017 Forest Bihan).
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2012 Neptune Equester (13th)
 
Danny Cook
Born: June 18, 1983, in Romford, Essex. Background: Danny Cook gained an interest in horseracing by watching the sport on TV as a youngster. His father was a landscape gardener. After leaving school and working for his father, Cook considered an alternative career in the Army before enrolling at the Northern Racing College despite having no experience with horses. Riding Career: Cook’s first ride was as an amateur rider on Kafi at Bangor in August, 2001. A move to the Barry Leavy yard in May, 2004, brought some success and he then joined Jim Old. After a stop-start career, Cook came to the David Pipe yard where he really took off and in the 2008/09 season he finished runner-up to Oliver Greenall in the amateur riders’ championship with 21 winners. He turned professional as a conditional jockey ahead of the 2009/10 season and rode his first Cheltenham Festival winner in 2010 aboard Great Endeavour in what is now the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate. He ended that Jump season with 25 successes. He subsequently made the move north to Yorkshire due to his connection with owner Dan Gilbert and now rides predominantly for Sue Smith (stable jockey) and Brian Ellison. His best total was 48 winners in 2015/2016 but he is about top that this season (47 up to March 29). Other Information: Cook was banned for six months in 2015 after testing positive for cocaine, an event he described as “a catastrophic error of judgment”. Arsenal fan Cook is due to marry his fiancé Kirsty in July, 2017. Big-Race Wins:Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (2010 Great Endeavour), Peter Marsh Chase (2016 Cloudy Too, 2010 Our Vic), Altcar Novices’ Chase (2015 Wakanda)
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2010 Pablo Du Charmil (FELL 2nd)
 
 
Double Shuffle (IRE) 7-10-11
 
Breeding: b g Milan – Fiddlers Bar (Un Desperado)
Breeder: A W Young
Born: April 15, 2010
Owner: Crossed Fingers Partnership
Trainer: Tom George
Jockey: Adrian Heskin
Form: 5611/24135-2P512
*Bidding to become the first seven-year-old to win the Randox Health Grand National since Bogskar was successful in 1940.
*Went down by half a length to winner Pilgrims Bay in G3 BetBright Handicap Chase (3m) at Kempton Park on February 25, 2017.
*Scored by three and a half lengths in handicap chase over same distance at Kempton Park on December 27, 2016.
*Third in Listed Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (2m 4.5f) at the Cheltenham Festival in March, 2016.
*Has never fallen or unseated, failing to complete just once when pulled up.
*Has never raced beyond three miles.
Jump race record: Starts 14; Wins 4; 2nd 3; 3rd 1. Win & Place Prize Money: £86,432
Crossed Fingers Partnership
The Crossed Fingers Partnership consists of Max Fawbert and Nic Williamson. Derbyshire-based Max Fawbert is a hairdresser and recalls backing the 1976 Grand National winner Rag Trade, who was owned partly by celebrity hairdresser Teasy-Weasy Raymond. He grew up surrounded by horses and rode in a few point-to-points. His father was an independent bookmaker. Nic Williamson, a Barbados-based businessman, met Fawbert when he popped into the salon for a haircut. The Ferdy Murphy-trained Desperate Dex was the partnership’s first winner when scoring at Uttoxeter in November, 2006. Notable horses for the pair have included God’s Own, who has won three G1 races including the JLT Melling Chase over the Mildmay Course at the 2016 Grand National Festival. Their previous Grand National runner Big Fella Thanks was trained by Ferdy Murphy, who moved to France in 2013, the first time and then Tom George.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2011 Big Fella Thanks (7th); 2013 Big Fella Thanks (UR 8th)
 
Tom George (Slad, Gloucestershire)
Born: June 4, 1967 Background: Having left Gordonstoun School in 1984, he worked for trainer Arthur Moore in Ireland, followed by a spell at Kingwood Stud, worked for the British Bloodstock Agency and gaining a diploma in stud management at the National Stud before becoming assistant to Flat trainers Gavin Pritchard Gordon and Michael Jarvis. Spent a year working in France for dual-purpose trainer Francois Doumen, and finally a year with multiple champion Jump trainer, Martin Pipe. He began his training career in 1993 with 14 horses from his base at Springbank Stables in Slad, near Stroud, Gloucestershire. At the age of 26, he was one of the youngest Jump trainers in the country and his first winner, Newton Point, came at Worcester on September 11, 1993. Tom George’s local track is Cheltenham and he won there with Newton Point in his rookie season. A surge for his yard came when Galileo won the G1 Royal & SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, 2002, providing the trainer with an initial success at The Festival. The horse was racing for only the second time over hurdles, having been bought off the Flat in Poland. Nacarat provided George with a G1 success in the Betway Bowl at the 2011 Grand National Festival, while he has also enjoyed G1 success in France, with Halley in the 2011 Prix Maurice Gillois Grand Steeple-Chase 4 Ans. God’s Own has been a flagbearer for the stable in recent years, with three G1 triumphs including in the 2016 JLT Melling Chase at Aintree. He is enjoying his best-ever season in 2016/2017, with 62 winners (up to March 26), many of them ridden by new stable jockey Adrian Heskin. He has another 2017 Randox Health Grand National contender in Saint Are. Tom is married to Sophie, daughter of former trainer John Edwards, who helps source horses for the yard. Edwards trained Little Polveir, who had had three previous runs in the Grand National, up until two months before being sold for 15,000 guineas to trainer Toby Balding who sent the horse out to win the 1989 Grand National.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2003 Tremallt (9th); 2006 Lord Of Illusion (PU 17th); 2009 Kilbeggan Blade (PU 21st); 2013 Big Fella Thanks (UR 8th); 2015 Saint Are (2nd); 2016 Saint Are (PU 30th)
Adrian Heskin
Born: April 22, 1992 Background: Grew up in Kilworth, County Cork. Started working for trainer Michael Hourigan as soon as he left school at the age of 16. Recorded his first winner when Mystical Breeze won a Naas handicap hurdle on March 14, 2009. Enjoyed a dream end to the 2009/2010 season, gaining an initial Cheltenham Festival success on board A New Story, trained by Hourigan, in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase and taking the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown Park the following month with the Hourigan-trained Church Island. Appointed retained jockey to owner Barry Connell in October, 2014, and won the G1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle for him on the Mags Mullins-trained Martello Tower at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival. Connell replaced Heskin with Denis O’Regan in April, 2016, and the jockey moved across the Irish Sea to become retained rider for Gloucestershire trainer Tom George in September of the same year. The partnership has blossomed, with both George and Heskin enjoying their best seasons yet numerically. Their first winner together was Kilbree Kid in a Perth handicap chase on September 21, 2016. He has had 47 winners (up to March 29) this season.
No previous Randox Health Grand National rides
 
 
Highland Lodge (IRE) 11-10-10
 
Breeding: b g Flemensfirth – Supreme Von Pres (Presenting)
Breeder: Margaret Treacy
Born: April 24, 2006
Owner: Bowes Lodge Stables
Trainer: Jimmy Moffatt
Jockey: Henry Brooke
Form: 114/131356/24P68/584/721P-2
*Bought by Patricia Thompson on March 31, only three days after she acquired another 2017 Randox Health Grand National intended runner Le Mercurey. Thompson purchased Party Politics on the eve of his Grand National success in 1992 and also tried to win the race again with other last-minute purchases, Character Building (7th in 2010) and Mumbles Head (refused 30th in 2013).
*Highland Lodge has purposefully had only one appearance so far this season, going down by a short-head to fellow Randox Health Grand National contender Vieux Lion Rouge in G3 Betfred Becher Chase over the Grand National fences on December 3. His target has always been the 2017 Randox Health Grand National and he runs well when fresh.
*Captured the same three and a quarter mile handicap chase at Aintree in 2015, staying on well to beat Dare To Endeavour by two and a quarter lengths; also finished eighth in 2014 renewal.
*Narrowly missed out on running in last year’s Grand National, having been 47th in the final list.
*Purchased at Doncaster Sales by previous connections as a potential Grand National contender for £22,000 in November, 2015, having previously been trained by Emma Lavelle.
*Has never fallen or unseated his rider, but been pulled up twice.
Jump race record: Starts 22; Wins 5; 2nd 3; 3rd 2. Win & Place Prize Money: £156,538
 
Patricia Thompson
David and Patricia Thompson are best known as owners of Cheveley Park Stud just outside Newmarket. Although famed for their Flat racing exploits, the Thompsons have won Jump racing’s most famous prize before, having bought the 1992 Grand National hero Party Politics on the eve of his victory. Party Politics, who spent his 13-year retirement at Cheveley Park Stud, lived to the ripe old age of 25. Mrs Thompson said in July, 2009, when he died: “We will always remember the excitement of Grand National day in 1992 – and indeed his very creditable second in 1995 – as one of the major experiences of our racing ownership.” David Thompson, 81 (born April 4, 1936), is a former Smithfield meat trader who first made his business mark with the Hillsdown Holdings food group, which he later sold in two separate deals for about £300 million. In the 2016 Sunday Times Rich List, David and Patricia were valued at £710m. The Thompsons, initially in partnership, bought the rundown Cheveley Park Stud, where horses have been bred for more than 1,000 years, in 1975. Music Boy, whom they raced, became their first stallion. It has become the most successful British-owned breeding operation in the country. Now stretching to around 970 acres and managed by Chris Richardson, its umbrella also covers the Sandwich, Warren Hill and Ashley Heath studs. It both sells and races the horses it produces and Russian Rhythm, a sales purchase, brought Classic glory when winning the 2003 1000 Guineas, going on to land both the Coronation Stakes and Nassau Stakes. The stud operation currently can house around 120 broodmares and stands eight stallions including leading sire Pivotal. St James’s Palace Stakes winner Excellent Art and 1997 2,000 Guineas hero Entrepreneur were bred and sold by Cheveley Park, while some of the Group One stars to race on the Flat in its patriotic red, white and blue silks include Red Bloom, Confidential Lady, Regal Rose, Echelon, Nannina, Exclusive, Peeress, Pivotal, Virtual, Chorist, Integral and last year’s Breeders’ Cup heroine Queen’s Trust. Its Flat trainers for 2017 and the 90-plus horses in training are headed by Sir Michael Stoute, a director of the stud, and include Robert Cowell, Clive Cox, Richard Fahey, James Fanshawe, John Gosden, William Haggas, Richard Hannon, Sir Mark Prescott and Roger Varian. Patricia Thompson has bought Highland Lodge from Bowes Lodge Stables.Simon, 49,and his wife Julie Wilson have horses in training with Jimmy Moffatt and Ireland’s champion Jump handler Willie Mullins under the Bowes Lodge Stables banner, which takes its name from a property that the pair used to own. The couple, who live in the village of Houghton Green near Warrington, started out in syndicates before setting up with their own horses in 2009. Both Simon and Julie are season ticket holders at Liverpool FC and the Bowes Lodge Stables colours of red, white and yellow are based on the club’s colours – the stars on the cap represent Liverpool’s five European Cup/Champions League victories. The Wilson’s 24-year-old son Rhyan is also involved in the partnership. Their other son, footballing-mad Patric, died at the age of 16 in February, 2016, just months after leading Highland Lodge into the winner’s enclosure following the Becher Chase victory at Aintree in December, 2015. He had bravely fought cancer after a brain tumour had been discovered after he just turned 15.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 1992 PARTY POLITICS (WON); 1992 Roc De Prince (17th); 1995 Party Politics (2nd); 1996 Party Politics (FELL 3rd); 2010 Character Building (7th), 2011 Character Building (15th); 2013 Mumbles Head (REF 30th)
 
James (Jimmy) Moffatt (Cartmel, Cumbria)
A former jump jockey, James (Jimmy) Moffatt, born June 14, 1972, enjoyed success as a northern-based rider, employed mainly by his father, Dudley Moffatt, who is still involved in the family training business. His notable successes among his 78 wins as a jockey included three on the talented Morceli, as well as major wins for his father on Home Counties in the 1995 Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and in the same year’s Scottish Champion Hurdle, and Deb’s Ball in the 1993 West Yorkshire Hurdle. He quit riding in 2003 to take over the licence at the family’s picturesque small stables, which his father built in 1985, at Cartmel in the Lake District. His best horse by some distance has been Chief Dan George, winner of what is now the G3 Ultima Handicap Chase at the 2010 Cheltenham Festival, as well as G2 River Don Novices’ Hurdle at Wetherby, the G2 Prestige Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock and the G1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle during the Grand National Festival at Aintree. Moffatt’s brother, Darren Moffatt, is a former Flat jockey. Jimmy is enjoying his joint-best season as a trainer with 11 winners (up to March 29). He married his long-time partner Nadine in 2015.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2011 Chief Dan George (17th)
 
Henry Brooke
Born Tadcaster, October 31, 1990 Background: Brooke was raised at Easingwold, Yorkshire. His mother Julia, who show jumped and then rode in point-to-points under her maiden name of Platts, ran a pre-training yard, which also housed a veterinary clinic, and training point-pointers before taking out a training licence n 2015. Henry’s brother, Danny, rode in pony races and is a trainee livestock auctioneer and sheep breeder/dealer. Henry’s first ride in a race – in a point-to-point – came on Pikachu Blue, a horse that was gifted to him as a birthday present by trainer Sue Bramall. He finished third on that debut, but it took him another two seasons before he broke his duck in points. He flirted with Flat racing and had 14 rides on the level in 2010 and 2011. He became a conditional jockey and now rides as a freelance, having spent four years with Cheshire-based Donald McCain. Brooke won the conditional jockeys’ championship with 41 winners in 2011/12. In December, 2015, Brooke rode Highland Lodge to win the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences for trainer James Moffatt. He made a miraculous recovery from serious injury sustained in a fall at Hexham in October, 2016, when he was airlifted to hospital after being placed in an induced coma, having a collapsed lung, nine fractured ribs and fractured shoulder blade. Brooke returned to race-riding in the space of seven weeks and was able to partner Highland Lodge to finish a close second in this season’s Betfred Becher Handicap Chase. He is enjoying his best ever season with 45 winners (up to March 29).
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2013 Across The Bay (14th); 2014 Across The Bay (14th); 2015 Across The Bay (PU 25th); 2016 Aachen (PU 22nd)
 
 
Le Mercurey (FR) 7-10-13
 
Breeding: Nickname – Faroe (Bulington)
Breeder: S A R L Carion Emm
Born: March 20, 2010
Owner: Patricia Thompson
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Sean Bowen
Form: 1F1/737/113P381-32523
*Was recently purchased privately by Patricia Thompson of Cheveley Park Stud fame from owners Chris Giles and Colm Donlon. Thompson acquired Party Politics on the eve of his Aintree success in 1992 and also tried to win the race again with other last-minute purchases, Character Building (7th in 2010) and Mumbles Head (refused 30th in 2013).
*No seven-year-old has won the Grand National since Bogskar in 1940.
*High-class novice chaser last season and ended that campaign with seven-length victory over Bristol De Mai in the G2 Future Champions Novices’ Chase at Ayr in April, 2016.
*Best efforts this season came when second to Many Clouds in a Listed chase over the Mildmay Course at Aintree in December, 2016 and runner-up to Native River in G2 Denman Chase at Newbury in February, 2017.
Race record: Starts: 18; Wins: 5; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 5; Win & Place Prize Money: £142,925
 
Patricia Thompson
David and Patricia Thompson are best known as owners of Cheveley Park Stud just outside Newmarket. Although famed for their Flat racing exploits, the Thompsons have won Jump racing’s most famous prize before, having bought the 1992 Grand National hero Party Politics on the eve of his victory. Party Politics, who spent his 13-year retirement at Cheveley Park Stud, lived to the ripe old age of 25. Mrs Thompson said in July, 2009, when he died: “We will always remember the excitement of Grand National day in 1992 – and indeed his very creditable second in 1995 – as one of the major experiences of our racing ownership.” David Thompson, 81 (born April 4, 1936), is a former Smithfield meat trader who first made his business mark with the Hillsdown Holdings food group, which he later sold in two separate deals for about £300 million. In the 2016 Sunday Times Rich List, David and Patricia were valued at £710m. The Thompsons, initially in partnership, bought the rundown Cheveley Park Stud, where horses have been bred for more than 1,000 years, in 1975. Music Boy, whom they raced, became their first stallion. It has become the most successful British-owned breeding operation in the country. Now stretching to around 970 acres and managed by Chris Richardson, its umbrella also covers the Sandwich, Warren Hill and Ashley Heath studs. It both sells and races the horses it produces and Russian Rhythm, a sales purchase, brought Classic glory when winning the 2003 1000 Guineas, going on to land both the Coronation Stakes and Nassau Stakes. The stud operation currently can house around 120 broodmares and stands eight stallions including leading sire Pivotal. St James’s Palace Stakes winner Excellent Art and 1997 2,000 Guineas hero Entrepreneur were bred and sold by Cheveley Park, while some of the Group One stars to race on the Flat in its patriotic red, white and blue silks include Red Bloom, Confidential Lady, Regal Rose, Echelon, Nannina, Exclusive, Peeress, Pivotal, Virtual, Chorist, Integral and last year’s Breeders’ Cup heroine Queen’s Trust. Its Flat trainers for 2017 and the 90-plus horses in training are headed by Sir Michael Stoute, a director of the stud, and include Robert Cowell, Clive Cox, Richard Fahey, James Fanshawe, John Gosden, William Haggas, Richard Hannon, Sir Mark Prescott and Roger Varian.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 1992 PARTY POLITICS (WON); 1992 Roc De Prince (17th); 1995 Party Politics (2nd); 1996 Party Politics (FELL 3rd); 2010 Character Building (7th), 2011 Character Building (15th); 2013 Mumbles Head (REF 30th)
 
Paul Nicholls (Manor Farm Stables, Ditcheat, Somerset)
Born:  April 17, 1962 at Lydney, Gloucestershire Background: The son of a policeman, he grew up in Olveston. He started riding in point-to-points after leaving school at 16 and worked for a couple of yards before becoming a conditional jockey with Sussex-based Josh Gifford for two years and then joining Devon trainer David Barons. He partnered 133 winners between 1980 and 1989, with his biggest British successes coming in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Broadheath (1986) and Playschool (1987), who also won the Irish Gold Cup with Paul up in 1988. Having struggled to keep his weight down, he retired from riding in 1989 and assisted Barons, trainer of not only Broadheath and Playschool but also Seagram, who won the 1991 Grand National at Aintree during Nicholls’ time at the stable. Nicholls took out his own licence to train at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat on November 1, 1991, with just eight horses and has come a long way since. Manor Farm Stables, which has been expanded, is the main yard, with Highbridge the second yard just outside the village. Daughter Megan is an apprentice jockey on the Flat with 21 winners (up to March 23). Achievements: 10-time champion Jump trainer (2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16) and became the first handler to accrue more than £4 million in a season in 2007/08. He gained his 2,000th winner at Down Royal on November 5, 2011, less than 20 years after taking his licence, making him the fastest Jump trainer to reach the landmark figure. Has sent out 41 winners at the Cheltenham Festival and is the third most successful trainer ever there. His successes include victories in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (1999 Call Equiname, 2004 Azertyuiop, 2008 & 2009 Master Minded, 2015 Dodging Bullets), Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (1999 See More Business, 2007 & 2009 Kauto Star, 2008 Denman) and the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (Big Buck’s 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012). He also won the Stan James Champion Hurdle with Rock On Ruby in 2012. At Aintree, he has captured the Grand National with Neptune Collonges in 2012 and sent out Big Buck’s for four consecutive victories (2009 to 2012) in the Grade One Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle. He has been leading trainer at the Randox Health Grand National Festival three times – in 2008, 2011 & 2015. He is fighting for his 11th Jump trainers’ championship this season. He has sent out in total over 2,700 winners, including 112 at Grade One level (up to March 30).
Randox Health Grand National Record: 1992 Just So (6th); 1996 Vicompt De Valmont (10th), Deep Bramble (PU 29th), Brackenfield (UR 19th); 1997 Straight Talk (FELL 14th); 1998 What A Hand (FELL 1st), Court Melody (FELL 6th), General Crack (PU 11th); 1999 Strong Chairman (15th), Double Thriller (FELL 1st), 2000 Earthmover (FELL 4th), Torduff Express (FELL 13th), Flaked Oats (FELL 20th), Escartefigue (UR 30th); 2001 Earthmover (FELL 4th); 2002 Murt’s Man (PU 17th), Ad Hoc (BD 27th); 2003 Montifault (5th), Fadalko (UR 6th), Ad Hoc (UR 19th), Shotgun Willy (PU 22nd), Torduff Express (UR 27th); 2004 Exit To Wave (PU 9th); 2005 Royal Auclair (2nd), Heros Collonges (8th), L’Aventure (15th), Ad Hoc (FELL 22nd); 2006 Royal Auclair (FELL 1st), Le Duc (UR 8th), Silver Birch (FELL 15th), Heros Collonges (UR 15th), Le Roi Miguel (PU 19th), Cornish Rebel (PU 19th); 2007 Le Duc (UR 6th), Royal Auclair (FELL 9th), Eurotrek (PU bef 22nd), Thisthatandtother (PU 30th); 2008 Cornish Sett (12th), Turko (FELL 25th), Mr Pointment (PU 30th); 2009 My Will (3rd), Big Fella Thanks (6th), Cornish Sett (17th), Eurotrek (PU 17th); 2010 Big Fella Thanks (4th), Tricky Trickster (9th), My Will (FELL 4th), Nozic (UR 20th); 2011 Niche Market (5th), Ornais (FELL 4th), The Tother One (FELL 6th), What A Friend (PU 27th); 2012 NEPTUNE COLLONGES (WON); 2013 Join Together (12th), What A Friend (PU 19th), Harry The Viking (PU 26th); 2014 Rocky Creek (5th), Hawkes Point (18th), Tidal Bay (UR 8th); 2015 Mon Parrain (11th), Rocky Creek (17th), Rebel Rebellion (PU 26th), Unioniste (Fell 5th); 2016 Unioniste (10th), Just A Par (15th), Rocky Creek (PU 12th), Silviniaco Conti (PU 14th), Wonderful Charm (PU 21st), Black Thunder (PU 21st)
Sean Bowen
Born: September 5, 1997 Background: son of leading trainer Peter Bowen (himself once an amateur rider) and Karen Bowen, who was also an amateur jockey and finished third in the ladies’ championship. A career in the saddle looked unlikely in his formative years as Bowen was allergic to horses and ‘hated horses’ until he was five. After a successful stint on the pony racing circuit and in point-to-points (champion UK novice rider), Bowen rode a winner on his first start under Rules as an amateur on Kozmina Bay at Uttoxeter in December 2013. Bowen turned professional at the beginning of the 2014/15 and enjoyed a successful first campaign with 51 winners, taking the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown on Just A Par for Paul Nicholls, for which he was awarded Jump Ride of the Year at the Lesters, and winning the conditional jockeys’ title. He is one of the team of jockeys riding for champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls and his seasonal totals keep rising. He had 55 winners in 2015/16 and is on the 75 mark (up to March 30) this season. His biggest success came on Just A Par in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown Park in 2015. His brother Mickey trains point-to-pointers and hunter chasers (had the 50/1 second Dineur in the 2016 Fox Hunters’ at Aintree).
Randox Health Grand National record: 2015 Mon Parrain (11th); 2016 Just A Par (15th)
 
 
Maggio (FR) 12-10-12
 
Breeding: b g Trempolino – La Musardiere (Cadoudal)
Breeder: Haras Du Reuilly
Born: March 29, 2005
Owner: Douglas Pryde/Jim Beaumont
Trainer: Patrick Griffin IRE
Jockey: Conor O’Farrell
Form: 440/372F4/72235228/02231U7/112622/54127215/43230/13561-4504
*Missed the cut to run in last year’s Grand National by four.
*Rerouted to what is now the Listed Betway Handicap Chase over the Mildmay Course on Grand National day and produced a career-best performance to beat Virak by 12 lengths when a 50/1 chance. That race has been a good pointer to the Grand National with Don’t Push It, State Of Play and Saint Are among the race’s recent winners.
*The horse’s other six victories have all been achieved in Scotland.
*Not disgraced when 15th over hurdles in a Pertemps Qualifier at Leopardstown over Christmas before finishing last of four behind fellow Randox Health Grand National contender Saphir Du Rheu in the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase at Kelso, Scotland, on February 16, 2017.
*Brought privately by Grand National winning owners Douglas Pryde and Jim Beaumount prior to finishing 10th behind Rajdhani Express in the 2015 Topham Chase over the Grand National fences.
*The horse started his racing career when running eight times without winning for trainer Nigel Hawke, who won the 1991 Grand National as the jockey on Seagram.
Jump race record: Starts: 51; Wins: 7; 2nd: 13; 3rd: 6; Win & Place Prize Money: £113,104
Douglas Pryde/Jim Beaumont
Jim Beaumont and Douglas Pryde met at Aintree more than 25 years ago and have been partners in horses for a long time – the pair joined up with South African-born David van der Hoeven to purchase the Sue Smith-trained Auroras Encore in late 2012 with the aim of running him in the 2013 Grand National. Their plan paid off in spectacular style as the horse won at odds of 66/1. Aurora’s Encore was retired in January, 2014 after being injured.Douglas Pryde, 63, born in February, 1954, has been an independent financial advisor since 1987, originally from Musselburgh and now runs his own company in Chirnside, not far from Berwick-on-Tweed. He played football for Scotland as a schoolboy and spent five years working in Liverpool between 1978 and 1983. He met Jim Beaumont on the roof of the County Stand at Aintree 28 years ago. Edinburgh-based Jim Beaumont, 82, was born in Liverpool and worked as a bell boy in the Adelphi Hotel at the age of 14 and remembers the celebrations in 1948 after Sheila’s Cottage won, before moving to the kitchens. From there, he carved out a career in the catering, hotel and restaurant business, including spells as manager at Gleneagles, the George Hotel and the Café Royal in Edinburgh, before owning restaurants. He retired 12 years ago. He was first taken to the Grand National meeting at the age of three by his grandmother and attended every year as a child. Maggio just missed getting in the Grand National last year, while their other entries, Mr Moonshine, Portrait King and Harry The Viking, also failed to make the final field in 2016.
Randox Health Grand National record: 2011 Santa’s Son (PU 27th); 2013 AURORAS ENCORE (WON – also owned by David van der Hoeven), Mr Moonshine (owned by Mrs Strang Steel, Douglas Pryde & Jim Beaumont) (PU bef 27th); 2014 Mr Moonshine (15th – also owned by David van der Hoeven)
 
Patrick (Pat) Griffin (Oldtown, Co Dublin)
Born: April 5, 1942 Background: father Tom had racehorses and owned the 1955 Irish Grand National and Galway Plate hero Umm in partnership with Con Rooney. Patrick rode as amateur for Umm’s trainer Georgie Wells, himself a champion apprentice rider in Britain and multiple Classic-winning jockey in Ireland. Patrick broke and pre-trained horses for Dublin-based businessman Richard McIlhagga, owner of 1971 Irish Grand National winner King’s Sprite, before taking out a permit and then full public licence in 1983. His first major success came with Feltrim Hill Lad in the 1988 Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park. Took a break from training in 1994 before renewing his licence in 2005. Patrick, who till rides out, has taken a back seat in recent years with son and assistant James, 33, who rode as an amateur, managing day-to-day operations. They have generally had more success in Britain than Ireland in recent years, with the best total of seven in 2013/2014 all achieved in Britain.
Randox Health Grand National record: No previous runners
 
Conor O’Farrell
Born: July 27, 1989 Background: son of Kilmoganny-based trainer Seamus O’Farrell and younger brother of former jockey James O’Farrell. Conor did not sit on a horse until he was 15. He attended the Racing Academy & Centre of Excellence after a spell riding out for Joe Crowley and worked for Paddy Prendergast after graduating. He worked for Shark Hanlon before moving to Britain and becoming a conditional jockey for David Pipe in October, 2010. His first winner was Miss Latina, Gowran Park, July 8, 2007, while his first British winner was A Little Different, who scored at Perth on September 24, 2009. O’Farrell enjoyed success at the Cheltenham Festival on Buena Vista in the 2011 Pertemps Network Final, while other big race victories have come in the Midlands Grand National (2011 Minella Four Star) and the Betfair “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle (2011 Dynaste). He has ridden 13 winners so far this season (as of March 30). He has yet to partner Maggio in a race.
Randox Health Grand National record: 2012 Swing Bill (10th); 2013 Swing Bill (6th); 2014 Swing Bill (9th); 2016 Soll (PU 21st)
 
 
One For Arthur (IRE) 8-10-10
 
Breeding: 8 b g Milan – Nonnetia (Trempolino)
Breeder: J P Dwan
Born: February 24, 2009
Owner: Two Golf Widows
Trainer: Lucinda Russell
Jockey: Derek Fox
Form: 22/33111P/1335243-151
*Bidding to become only the second Scottish-trained winner of the Randox Health Grand National after Rubstic (1979).
*Impressive winner last time out of the G3 Classic Chase over three miles and five furlongs at Warwick on January 14, 2017, scoring by six lengths from Goodtoknow.
*Shaped with promise over the Grand National fences when a staying-on fifth, beaten only three lengths, behind Vieux Lion Rouge in Betfred Becher Handicap Chase in December, 2016.
*Began this season with six-length success in a three and a quarter mile handicap chase at Kelso in October, 2016.
*Jockey Derek Fox is hoping to get back from injury in time to ride One For Arthur.
*Winning Irish point-to-pointer who made £60,000 at a sale at Cheltenham Racecourse in December, 2013.
*Has never fallen or unseated his rider. Failed to complete one race when pulled up.
Race record: Starts: 18; Wins: 6; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 5; Win & Place Prize Money: £77,638
 
Two Golf Widows
The Two Golf Widows are Belinda (Bel) McClung (husband Fraser) and Deborah (Debs) Thomson (partner Colin Dempster). McClung hails from Ancrum near Jedburgh, while Gullane-based Thomson is originally from near Kelso. The pair went to school together and then met up again later in life. They got into racehorses ownership together as they wanted an activity they could enjoy when their husband/partner played golf. As the Two Golf Widows, they have won six races in the last three years, all provided by One For Arthur, though they also own Templenaboe who is just starting out on his racing career. Thomson also has other horses with Russell, including four-time winner Big River, who runs in the name of Two Blacks Labs, named after her Labradors, Bolly and Krug, Alizee De Janeiro who has been successful three times, and five-time scorer Kris Cross, her first horse. Memorably, One For Arthur, Big River and Alizee De Janeiro all won on the same afternoon at Kelso, Saturday, October 24, 2015. McClung, who also used to have horses as Belinda Wares including No Deal, has been a steward at Ayr, Kelso and Musselburgh Racecourses. Thomson said: “I have been a lucky owner, with quite a few wins. My partner Colin and I have had great fun with Lucinda and Scu. One For Arthur is the best horse I have been involved with and we are keeping our fingers crossed that he gets to Aintree for the Randox Health Grand National. It is a dream to have a horse run in the Grand National. We have got the dream and we will just have to see what happens on the day.”
No previous Randox Health Grand National runners
 
Lucinda Russell (Kinross, Tayside)
Born: June 24, 1966 Background: Lucinda Russell gained a degree in psychology at St Andrews University, having enrolled on the course in order “to get me away from horses.” She had enjoyed a successful career as an eventer and at bringing on horses to Badminton standards and selling them on. She did well as a point-to-point trainer and won on one of her three rides in that sphere, but she recalls that it was a two-horse race. She trained a hunter chase winner with Gunmetal Boy at Kelso on April 5, 1993. After a brief career in marketing, she took out a full trainer’s licence in August, 1995, and the following month she saddled her first winner with her first runner, Fiveleigh Builds at Perth in September, 1995. Her father Peter is chairman of Ian Macleod Distillers which produces Isle of Skye Scotch Whisky and Glengoyne Single Malt Whisky. Russell was formerly married to leading three-day eventer Magnus Nicholson and she is assisted by her current partner, legendary Jump jockey Peter Scudamore, the eight-time champion jockey who came closest to winning the Grand National when third on Corbiere in 1985 from 12 rides in the race. Her best season came in 2013/2014 with 66 successes and she is on the 39-winner mark (up to March 30) this season. Big-race wins: Classic Chase (2017 One For Arthur), Grand National Trial (2015 Lie Forrit, 2010 & 2011 Silver By Nature), Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2012 Brindisi Breeze), Premier Kelso Hurdle (2012 Tap Night, 2011 Bold Sir Brian).
Randox Health National Record: 1996 Greenhill Raffles (14th), 2005 Strong Resolve (17th), 2011 Silver By Nature (12th)
 
Derek Fox
Born: May 14, 1992 Background: Sligo-born Derek Fox began his career in Ireland, riding primarily for Mark McNiff and Noel Kelly, who provided Fox with an early career highlight when his Charlie’s Vic was partnered by the jockey to success in the G3 Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Chase at Limerick in 2013. Fox’s success on Charlie’s Vic caught the eye of trainer Lucinda Russell and he subsequently made the move to Scotland, riding his first winner for Russell aboard The Friary at Hexham on November 8, 2013. He was appointed Russell’s stable jockey in April, 2016. Fox picked up a 20-month ban for drink-driving in 2015 after being found nearly three times over the legal limit. He broke his left wrist and his right collarbone in fall at Carlisle on March 9. He has been undergoing intensive rehabilitation at the Injured Jockeys Fund Jack Berry House in Malton, North Yorkshire, and is hoping to be fit in time to ride One For Arthur in the 2017 Randox Health Grand National. Big-Race Wins:Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Chase (2013 Charlie’s Vic), Classic Chase (2017 One For Arthur)
No previous Randox Health Grand National rides
Perfect Candidate (IRE) 10-11-04
 
Breeding: b gWinged Love – Dansana (Insan)
Breeder: Hugh Suffern Bloodstock Ltd
Born: May 12, 2007
Owner: ISL Recruitment
Trainer: Fergal O’Brien
Jockey: Paddy Brennan
Form: 66374/2445/1715150/25101-02P1
*Set to make first appearance over Grand National fences in the Randox Health Grand National.
*Warmed up for Aintree with a racecourse gallop at Newbury on March 26, 2017.
*Made all to score by five lengths on latest appearance in three-mile Exeter veterans’ handicap chase on February 12, 2017.
*Boasts a fine record at Cheltenham, winning two handicap chases at the course in 2016 and going down by a nose to Theatre Guide in G3 Unicoin Group Handicap Chase (3m 2f) at The Open in November that year.
*Lives in the stable next door to Alvarado, who was fourth in both the 2014 and 2015 Grand Nationals – Fergal O’Brien describes the pair as “best of friends”.
Jump race record: Starts 25; Wins 6; 2nd 3; 3rd 1. Win & Place Prize Money: £80,792
ISL Recruitment
Incite Solutions Limited (ISL) Recruitment is a Bristol-based business that was founded byGeoffrey Keeys, the company’s current vice-chairman, and Simon Ranahan in 2007. Keeys has been involved in the recruitment industry since 2001, prior to which he had a successful career in operational management for a global organisation. He has a BSc from Bristol University and an MSc from Loughborough University. Geoff and his wife Donna, who live in the Gloucestershire village of Ford, have been heavily involved with the Fergal O’Brien stable since the trainer took out his licence in 2011 – ISL is the stable’s sponsor and Fergal credits Geoff as a mentor to the business-side of the operation. The couple have also been long-standing owners with O’Brien’s neighbour Nigel Twiston-Davies. Initially involved in syndicates, the Keeys started having runners in their own colours in the late 1990s. One of their first horses to run in their colours was Gentle Rivage who won a G2 novices’ hurdle at Uttoxeter in 1999 before going to finish third in the G1 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2000.
No previous Randox Health Grand National runners
Fergal O’Brien (Naunton, Gloucestershire)
Born Limerick,Ireland, August 19, 1972 Background: His father was a bus driver and he started riding at the age of nine, as his two older brothers, David and Brian, were keen on horses. Followed his brothers by working at Andrew McNamara’s yard at weekends and during school holidays, before spending two months at the age of 14 in England with Doug Francis, where Brian worked. After finishing his schooling in Ireland aged 16, he went to Newmarket’s British Racing School for a nine-week course in 1989 and shortly afterwards was sent to Tim Forster’s Oxfordshire yard, where he worked for three years. Joined private trainer Colin Cowley to pursue a career as a jockey, but, after two rides, realised it was not for him and switched to the Nigel Twiston-Davies team in Gloucestershire in July, 1992. Spent 18 years at Grange Hill Farm, including 16 as head lad. Successfully started training point-to-pointers in 2003, while working for Nigel and was champion point-to-point trainer in the West Midlands area for four seasons. Took out his own licence in September, 2011 from Grand National-winning jockey Timmy Murphy’s yard at Cilldara Stud near Fossebridge and is currently enjoying his best season to date with 55 wins (up to March 30), having moved next door to Twiston-Davies in July, 2015. Notable winners have included Alvarado, who took a G3 handicap chase at Cheltenham in 2013, and Colin’s Sister, successful in the G2 Jane Seymour Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown Park in February, 2017. He is assisted by his partner Sally Randell, a former trainer. O’Brien and his team have a penchant for cakes, hold weekly “Bake Off” competitions and are very active on Twitter.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2014 Alvarado (4th), 2015 Alvarado (4th)
 
Paddy Brennan
Born: April 13, 1981, Ardrahan in Co Galway, Ireland Background: spent the summer of 1995 working for Co Kildare handler Gerry Stack before embarking on a five-season apprenticeship with the leading Irish Flat trainer Jim Bolger, for whom he rode eight winners. The first of those came on Ivory Isle at Gowran Park in August, 1998. He became too heavy and tall for the Flat and moved to Paul Nicholls’ stable in England as a conditional jockey in 2001. He stayed there for two and a half years, riding winners for Nicholls and Jeff King, before joining Philip Hobbs in the 2003/04 season as one of that yard’s conditionals. Brennan also struck up a good rapport with Ashley Brook, on whom he won the Grade One Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree in 2005, and enjoyed a first Cheltenham Festival success that year aboard Shamayoun in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle. Brennan was appointed as retained rider to owners Andrea and Graham Wylie for the 2006/07 season after dropping into trainer Howard Johnson’s County Durham yard for a cup of tea and toast. He rewarded those connections when guiding Inglis Drever to victory in the 2007 G1 Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham – the gelding’s second success in the race. Brennan left Johnson and joined Gloucestershire-based handler Nigel Twiston-Davies in the 2007/08 season. The 2010 victory aboard Imperial Commander in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup provided Brennan with what he described as the best day of his life and he has ridden a total of six winners at the Cheltenham Festival. He left Twiston-Davies after four years to become a freelance in March, 2011. His best British tally of winners was 104 in 2007/8, but he could top that this season, with 89 winners up to March 30.  In recent seasons, Brennan has enjoyed big-race wins on the Colin Tizzard-trained Cue Card, including the G1 King George VI Chase at Kempton Park in 2015, two renewals of Haydock Park’s G1 Betfair Chase (2015 & 2016) and the G1 Betway Bowl Chase at the 2016 Grand National Festival.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2005 Double Honour (UR 21st); 2007 Bewleys Berry (FELL 22nd); 2008 Fundamentalist (FELL 3rd); 2009 Knowhere (PU 25th); 2010 Irish Raptor (FELL 14th); 2012 Giles Cross (PU 11th); 2015 Saint Are (2nd); 2016 Saint Are (PU 30th)

Pleasant Company (IRE) 9-10-11
 
Breeding: b g Presenting – Katie Flame (Alderbrook)
Breeder: Susan Bredin
Born: April 15, 2008
Owner: Malcolm Denmark
Trainer: Willie Mullins IRE
Jockey: Ruby Walsh
Form: 134/43/3413P-141
*Lightly-raced nine-year-old, having made just 13 starts under rules including six chase appearances. Miinnehoma (1994) was the last Grand National winner to have less than 10 chase starts beforehand (nine).
*Heads to Aintree on the back of a half-length success over Thunder And Roses in G3 Bobbyjo Chase (3m 1f) on heavy ground at Fairyhouse on February 25, 2017. Hedgehunter, also trained by Mullins, captured the same race before winning the Grand National in 2005.
*Fourth on first outing for almost nine months in Thyestes Handicap Chase (3m 1f) at Gowran Park on January 26, 2017.
*Ended last season by beating Regal Encore by three-quarters of a length in Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase (3m 1f) at the 2016 Punchestown Festival.
*Has never fallen or unseated his rider. Failed to complete once when pulled up.
Jump race record: Starts 13; Wins 4; 2nd -; 3rd 4. Win & Place Prize Money: £74,808
Malcolm C Denmark
Malcolm Denmark, born in July, 1955, set up the London-based Mediaforce Group in 1984 – the company was the first to put advertising leaflets in the middle of newspapers. The business, of which Denmark is currently chairman and chief executive, has grown to dominate that market and now distributes six billion leaflets a year, but also has lots of other strands, owning a media portfolio of advertising agencies, digital representation and newspaper publishing networks. The latter includes 15 regional newspapers in Ireland, including the Limerick Leader, the Donegal Democrat, the Kilkenny People and the Leinster Leader, which were bought from 2013 onwards by his Iconic Newspapers subsidiary. The following statement is on the Mediaforce Group website “Malcolm looks to bring a 360 degree approach to the Mediaforce Group, making it a powerhouse within the industry”. Racing interests: He started owning racehorses in 1996 when his father became ill, deciding to have a couple of horses with Mark Pitman, who himself was just starting out with a licence. Financed Pitman’s purchase of Weathercock House from the trainer’s mother Jenny in 1999, and subsequently employed Carl Llewellyn (2006-2009) and Warren Greatrex (2009-2012) as salaried trainers at the Lambourn yard. Pitman returned to oversee a few horses for Denmark at the yard at the end of 2015, while Flat trainer and former champion jockey Richard Hughes is the current principal incumbent. Denmark currently has the majority of his horses in training with Tony Martin and Willie Mullins in Ireland; Pitman and James Fanshawe look after his UK-based runners. His best horses have included Monsignor, who provided the owner with his two Cheltenham Festival wins in the 1999 Weatherbys Champion Bumper and the 2000 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, and the 2009 bet365 Gold Cup victor Hennessy. He has over 15 horses in training.
No previous Randox Health Grand National runners
 
Willie Mullins IRE (Bagenalstown, County Carlow)
Born: September 15, 1956 Background: A six-time champion amateur rider in Ireland, his successes in the saddle included the 1983 Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree on Atha Cliath (among the also-rans were Robert Waley-Cohen, chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, and former Aintree Racecourse chairman Lord Daresbury). As a jockey in the Randox Health Grand National, his rides included The Ladys Master, who ran out in 1983, and Hazy Dawn, who fell at the sixth the following year. He hails from one of Ireland’s most famous racing families, being a son of the late Paddy Mullins, the outstanding all-round trainer whose most dazzling star was Dawn Run, winner of the 1984 Champion Hurdle and 1986 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Training Achievements: Mullins, who took out a training licence in 1988, has been Ireland’s champion Jump trainer 11 times. He has won most of the major prizes in Britain and Ireland, and several in France as well. He has 54 Cheltenham Festival successes to his credit, including Champion Hurdles with Annie Power, Faugheen and Hurricane Fly, and an extraordinary eight in the Champion Bumper, starting with Wither Or Which (which he also rode) in 1996. He has been leading trainer at The Festival for five of the last seven years (including a record eight winners in 2015) and lies second on the all-time list of most successful trainers behind Nicky Henderson after six successes this year. Mullins’ star performer in the early part of the century was Florida Pearl, who was placed in two Cheltenham Gold Cups, won the 1998 RSA Chase, the 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004 Irish Gold Cups in Ireland as well as the 2001 King George VI Chase and the 2002 Betway Bowl at Aintree. The brilliant Hurricane Fly won the Stan James Champion Hurdle in 2011 and 2013 and Mullins’ Cheltenham Festival winners include the amazing Quevega who created history by becoming the only horse to win the same race in six consecutive years (the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle). Mullins has around 180 horses at his Closutton yard near Bagenalstown in Co Carlow. He is being challenged this season by Gordon Elliott for the Irish Jump trainers’ title. His first Grand National runner as a trainer, Micko’s Dream, fell at the first in 2000. Mullins, a former chairman of the Irish Trainers’ Federation, also suffered disappointment in 2004 when Hedgehunter departed at the final fence in the Randox Health Grand National when looking assured of a place. He overcame bad luck the following year when Hedgehunter came home 14 lengths clear of Royal Auclair and the same horse finished second in 2006.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2000 Micko’s Dream (FELL 1st); 2002 Alexander Banquet (UR 6th); 2004 Alexander Banquet (FELL 18th), Hedgehunter (FELL 30th); 2005 HEDGEHUNTER (WON); 2006 Hedgehunter (2nd); 2007 Hedgehunter (9th), Homer Wells (PU 22nd), Bothar Na (PU 29th), Livingstonebramble (UR 6th); 2008 Snowy Morning (3rd), Hedgehunter (13th); 2009 Snowy Morning (9th), Irish Invader (11th); 2010 Snowy Morning (6th), Arbor Supreme (UR 15th); 2011 The Midnight Club (6th), Dooney’s Gate (FELL 6th), Arbor Supreme (FELL 28th); 2012 The Midnight Club (11th), Quiscover Fontaine (FELL 17th), On His Own (FELL 22nd); 2013 Quiscover Fontaine (16th), Quel Esprit (PU 24th), On His Own (FELL 25th); 2014 Vesper Bell (13th), Prince De Beauchene (16th); 2015 Ballycasey (BD 8th); 2016 On His Own (FELL 15th), Sir Des Champs (FELL 15th), Boston Bob (PU 22nd), Ballycasey (UR 29th)
 
Ruby Walsh
Born: May 14, 1979 Background: Ruby (Rupert) Walsh is a son of 11-time Irish amateur champion jockey, Ted Walsh, now a trainer and television pundit. He is the second of Walsh’s four children; one sister, Katie, is a highly successful amateur rider and another, Jennifer, acts as his agent. Ted Walsh junior, the other son, is married to leading amateur rider Nina Carberry who is pregnant with their first child. Ruby is acknowledged as one of the best riders and horsemen of his generation and now rides primarily for Ireland’s top stable, that of Willie Mullins. He used to split his time between Britain, where he was the main jockey for trainer Paul Nicholls, and Ireland for 11 years. He had his first success under Rules aboard Siren Song at Gowran Park on July 25, 1995, and followed in his father’s footsteps when capturing the Irish amateurs’ championship at the age of 19 while still studying for his Leaving Certificate. He was champion Irish National Hunt jockey in his first season as a professional (1998/99) and has taken the title a further 10 times (2000/2001, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16). Walsh has won the Grand National twice on Papillon (2000, trained by his father) and Hedgehunter (2005). He is the most successful jockey of all time at the Cheltenham Festival (with 56 winners), where he was leading rider for the 11th time this year. His Cheltenham Festival victories include the 2007 and 2009 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cups on Kauto Star, three Betway Queen Mother Champion Chases (2004 Azertyuiop, 2008 and 2009 Master Minded), four Stan James Champion Hurdles (2011 and 2013 Hurricane Fly, 2015 Faugheen, 2016 Annie Power) and five Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdles (2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 Big Buck’s, 2017 Nichols Canyon). There are few omissions in his list of big-race successes; he won five King George VI Chases on Kauto Star and is the only current rider to have won all four national Grand Nationals – as well as Papillon and Hedgehunter, he took the Irish version on Numbersixvalverde (2005), the Welsh version on Silver Birch (2005) and the Scottish version on Take Control (2002). He also won the Australian equivalent on Bashboy in 2015 and the American Grand National Hurdle on Rawnaq in 2016. Walsh enjoyed another notable success abroad when Blackstairmountain became the first European-trained winner of Japan’s biggest Jump race, the Nakayama Grand Jump, in 2013. He has partnered over 2,600 winners. His autobiography was published in October, 2010. He is married to Gillian and the couple have two daughters, Isabelle and Elsa.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2000 PAPILLON (WON); 2001 Papillon (4th); 2002 Kingsmark (4th); 2003 Shotgun Willy (PU 22nd); 2005 HEDGEHUNTER (WON); 2006 Hedgehunter (2nd); 2007 Hedgehunter (9th); 2008 Hedgehunter (13th); 2009 My Will (3rd); 2011 The Midnight Club (6th); 2013 On His Own (FELL 25th); 2015 Ballycasey (BD 8th)


Saphir Du Rheu (FR) 8-11-04
 
Breeding: gr g Al Namix – Dona Du Rheu (Dom Pasquini)
Breeder: Claude Duval
Born: April 26, 2009
Owner: The Stewart Family
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies
Form: 3310/541114/U1F121/155665-3F215
*Six pounds well in on official ratings after finishing fifth behind Sizing John in the G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival on March 17, 2017.
*Easy 15-length winner of the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase at Kelso in February, 2017.
*Most impressive performance so far came in the 2015 G1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree when defeating Carraig Mor by 15 lengths.
*Trainer won Grand National with another grey Neptune Collonges in 2012, the first grey to triumph since Nicolaus Silver in 1961.
Jump race record: Starts: 27; Wins: 9; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 3; Win & Place Prize Money: £334,499
 
The Stewart Family
The Stewart Family comprises husband and wife Andy and Judy Stewart, and their two sons, Mark and Paul. The latter broke his back in a snowboarding accident in December, 2008, but has made tremendous progress to walk again and the family have sponsored several races at Cheltenham, including the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and the December Gold Cup for the benefit of Spinal Research. Andy Stewart, born on August 15, 1951 in Romford to parents who were both doctors, went to Felsted School in Essex and bunked off to go point-to-pointing at Marks Tey. He also hitchhiked to Liverpool to attend the Grand National Festival. He began work aged 17 in the fixed-interest department of Simon & Coates, progressing to be a senior partner at that stockbroking firm. He became chief executive of Chase Manhattan Securities when it took over Simon & Coates. Stewart co-founded broker Collins Stewart in 1991 and was executive deputy chairman when it floated on the Stock Exchange worth £326 million in 2000 before leaving the business in 2003. He then founded Cenkos Securities, named after his first top-class racehorse, but stepped down in 2010. Cenkos won 15 races and over £500,000 in prize money and was twice third in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Stewart is now chairman of Ravenscroft Limited (formerly Cenkos Channel Islands) which has offices in Guernsey and Jersey. He is also a major shareholder in the CHAPS Restaurants, Barbados, where he has a home. Racing interests: Andy was first involved with ownership in 1986 and the family enjoyed the first of six Cheltenham Festival successes when Celestial Halo won the JCB Triumph Hurdle in 2008. Outstanding staying hurdler Big Buck’s became the first horse to win four renewals of the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2012 and broke Sir Ken’s record by winning his 17th consecutive race over jumps in the G1 Liverpool Hurdle at the 2012 Grand National Festival.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2007 Le Duc (UR 6th); 2008 Turko (Fell 25th); 2009 My Will (3rd); 2010 My Will (Fell 4th); 2011 Ornais (Fell 4th); 2012 Tatenen (UR 8th); 2013 Tatenen (Fell 12th); 2014 Rocky Creek (5th), 2015 Rocky Creek (17th); 2016 Rocky Creek (PU 12th)
 
Paul Nicholls (Manor Farm Stables, Ditcheat, Somerset)
Born:  April 17, 1962 at Lydney, Gloucestershire Background: The son of a policeman, he grew up in Olveston. He started riding in point-to-points after leaving school at 16 and worked for a couple of yards before becoming a conditional jockey with Sussex-based Josh Gifford for two years and then joining Devon trainer David Barons. He partnered 133 winners between 1980 and 1989, with his biggest British successes coming in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Broadheath (1986) and Playschool (1987), who also won the Irish Gold Cup with Paul up in 1988. Having struggled to keep his weight down, he retired from riding in 1989 and assisted Barons, trainer of not only Broadheath and Playschool but also Seagram, who won the 1991 Grand National at Aintree during Nicholls’ time at the stable. Nicholls took out his own licence to train at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat on November 1, 1991, with just eight horses and has come a long way since. Manor Farm Stables, which has been expanded, is the main yard, with Highbridge the second yard just outside the village. Daughter Megan is an apprentice jockey on the Flat with 21 winners (up to March 23). Achievements: 10-time champion Jump trainer (2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16) and became the first handler to accrue more than £4 million in a season in 2007/08. He gained his 2,000th winner at Down Royal on November 5, 2011, less than 20 years after taking his licence, making him the fastest Jump trainer to reach the landmark figure. Has sent out 41 winners at the Cheltenham Festival and is the third most successful trainer ever there. His successes include victories in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (1999 Call Equiname, 2004 Azertyuiop, 2008 & 2009 Master Minded, 2015 Dodging Bullets), Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (1999 See More Business, 2007 & 2009 Kauto Star, 2008 Denman) and the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (Big Buck’s 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012). He also won the Stan James Champion Hurdle with Rock On Ruby in 2012. At Aintree, he has captured the Grand National with Neptune Collonges in 2012 and sent out Big Buck’s for four consecutive victories (2009 to 2012) in the Grade One Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle. He has been leading trainer at the Randox Health Grand National Festival three times – in 2008, 2011 & 2015. He is fighting for his 11th Jump trainers’ championship this season. He has sent out in total over 2,700 winners, including 112 at Grade One level (up to March 30).
Randox Health Grand National Record: 1992 Just So (6th); 1996 Vicompt De Valmont (10th), Deep Bramble (PU 29th), Brackenfield (UR 19th); 1997 Straight Talk (FELL 14th); 1998 What A Hand (FELL 1st), Court Melody (FELL 6th), General Crack (PU 11th); 1999 Strong Chairman (15th), Double Thriller (FELL 1st), 2000 Earthmover (FELL 4th), Torduff Express (FELL 13th), Flaked Oats (FELL 20th), Escartefigue (UR 30th); 2001 Earthmover (FELL 4th); 2002 Murt’s Man (PU 17th), Ad Hoc (BD 27th); 2003 Montifault (5th), Fadalko (UR 6th), Ad Hoc (UR 19th), Shotgun Willy (PU 22nd), Torduff Express (UR 27th); 2004 Exit To Wave (PU 9th); 2005 Royal Auclair (2nd), Heros Collonges (8th), L’Aventure (15th), Ad Hoc (FELL 22nd); 2006 Royal Auclair (FELL 1st), Le Duc (UR 8th), Silver Birch (FELL 15th), Heros Collonges (UR 15th), Le Roi Miguel (PU 19th), Cornish Rebel (PU 19th); 2007 Le Duc (UR 6th), Royal Auclair (FELL 9th), Eurotrek (PU bef 22nd), Thisthatandtother (PU 30th); 2008 Cornish Sett (12th), Turko (FELL 25th), Mr Pointment (PU 30th); 2009 My Will (3rd), Big Fella Thanks (6th), Cornish Sett (17th), Eurotrek (PU 17th); 2010 Big Fella Thanks (4th), Tricky Trickster (9th), My Will (FELL 4th), Nozic (UR 20th); 2011 Niche Market (5th), Ornais (FELL 4th), The Tother One (FELL 6th), What A Friend (PU 27th); 2012 NEPTUNE COLLONGES (WON); 2013 Join Together (12th), What A Friend (PU 19th), Harry The Viking (PU 26th); 2014 Rocky Creek (5th), Hawkes Point (18th), Tidal Bay (UR 8th); 2015 Mon Parrain (11th), Rocky Creek (17th), Rebel Rebellion (PU 26th), Unioniste (Fell 5th); 2016 Unioniste (10th), Just A Par (15th), Rocky Creek (PU 12th), Silviniaco Conti (PU 14th), Wonderful Charm (PU 21st), Black Thunder (PU 21st)
Sam Twiston-Davies                                      
Born: October 15, 1992 Background: Sam Twiston-Davies was still studying for AS-level exams at school in Gloucestershire when he had both his first Cheltenham Festival winner and first Grand National ride. The son of trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and his divorced wife, Cathy, (who both rode as amateurs), Sam was successful in pony racing before starting in point-to-points in the 2008/09 season when becoming eligible at the age of 16. Within a few weeks, on December 28, 2008, he rode his first winner between the flags, taking a race at Cottenham in Cambridgeshire on Grenfell, trained by his mother. At Ludlow on February 18, 2009, he scored his first success under Rules when partnering Baby Run, owned and trained by Nigel, to victory in a hunter chase. A career that was bound to flourish gained added lift through Baby Run, for he and Sam went on to finish third in the following month’s Foxhunter Chase at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival and later gained one of the season’s biggest prizes in the Champion Hunters’ Chase at the Punchestown Festival. Sam and Baby Run capped that in March, 2010, when returning to Cheltenham and the easy winner of the Foxhunter Chase at The Festival. Sam then went to Aintree and partnered Hello Bud into fifth on his Grand National debut. He turned professional shortly afterwards. Sam partnered Hello Bud to victory in the 2010 Betfred Becher Handicap Chase over the Grand National course. Twiston-Davies rode his father’s The New One to win the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at The Cheltenham Festival in 2013. In the summer of 2014, he was appointed stable jockey to Paul Nicholls. He has partnered over 750 winners, with his best season coming in 2014/2015 (145 wins). He has had seven Cheltenham Festival winners and is an ambassador at Aintree Racecourse. Big-Race Wins include: Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (2015 Dodging Bullets), Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil (2016 Ptit Zig), Scottish Grand National (2016 Vicente), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (2016 Ballyandy), Mildmay Novices’ Chase (2015 Saphir Du Rheu), Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (2015 All Yours), Tingle Creek Chase (2014 Dodging Bullets), Aintree Hurdle (2014 The New One), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2013 The New One).
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2010 Hello Bud (5th); 2011 Hello Bud (PU 29th); 2012 Hello Bud (7th); 2013 Imperial Commander (PU 22nd); 2014 Tidal Bay (UR 8th); 2015 Rock Creek (17th), 2016 Wonderful Charm (PU 21st)
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