Trainers and jockeys talk about the Crabbie’s Grand National at today’s Northern Media Lunch at Aintree Racecourse

Top-weight and last year’s victor Many Clouds (Oliver Sherwood/Leighton Aspell) heads the 96 acceptors for the Crabbie’s Grand National following today’s second scratchings stage.

The nine-year-old, 8/1 clear favourite with the official betting partner of the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival, Betfred, completed his Crabbie’s Grand National preparation in the best possible way when landing the Listed Premier Chase at Kelso on March 13, scoring by 10 lengths from Unioniste (Paul Nicholls).

Last year 74 horses were left in at this stage, while 73 went forward in 2014 and 57 in 2013. A maximum of 40 runners can line up for the 169th running of the world’s most famous jump race at 5.15pm on Saturday, April 9.

Both Leighton Aspell and Paul Nicholls are looking forward to the Crabbie’s Grand National.

Aspell, attending the Northern Media Lunch at Aintree today after successive Crabbie’s Grand National victories on Many Clouds (2015) and Pineau De Re (2014), said: “The first year was a complete shock (in winning the race) and I didn’t know how to react.

“Last year, I was in front from three out and though you are screaming for the line, by the time you get there, it is just a release of emotion.

“I’m blessed to have won two Crabbie’s Grand Nationals. Oliver (Sherwood) has done a great job of training Many Clouds this year. Many Clouds gave 10lb to Cue Card at Wetherby but went there seriously under-cooked and it was a bit of a blip.

“But then to be second to Don Poli here, giving 5lb, was a good run and then it was a really good performance against Smad Place – they pulled clear – in the BetBright Chase at Cheltenham and a lovely run around Kelso nine days ago was perfect.

“Many Clouds has always been a very good jumper but it was great to feel the enthusiasm and energy he had at Kelso.

“You don’t have to school him very often – he is very, very good – you just give him a pop a few days before he runs. I am sure Oliver is just freshening him up right now. The next week and the following week, we will do something more serious and get him spot on.

“I am not a bit worried about the weight or Many Clouds’ condition, he is really tip-top, but at the moment it looks a very strong race. I would not want to swap him.

“You are always going to look for dangers and find some. Silviniaco Conti brings some quality to the race but there must be a big question mark about whether he will get the trip. A few times he has looked a bit tripless going beyond three miles. Four and quarter miles will really test his stamina.

“I thought the Irish horse Carlingford Lough ran a really eye-catching race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and there are several lines of form where Many Clouds and Holywell cross. Holywell’s run at Cheltenham last week was very good and his fourth in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup would put him bang there in this year’s Crabbie’s Grand National.

“Winning the Crabbie’s Grand National twice has not changed me but it has changed my life. It has raised my profile and is a big icebreaker – helping me with some better rides on Saturdays.”

Nicholls, interviewed over the phone, declared: “After winning with Neptune Collonges in 2012, I am looking forward to this year’s race.

“Unioniste is by the same sire as Neptune Collonges and Silviniaco Conti – Dom Alco – and is a real good stayer. He ran very well at Kelso the last day behind Many Clouds and at Aintree is a lot better off at the weights and the trip was a bit sharp for him – he will stay forever. If he has a good run and gets jumping, then he would be a lively outsider.

“I have always thought that Silviniaco Conti would be a National prospect and he is very much in the mould of Neptune Collonges, maybe a little more classy. He won very well the last time at Ascot and is a laid-back and relaxed horse.

“He has always jumped very, very well – he has the same sire as Neptune Collonges and is the same sort of horse. Silviniaco Conti is our main hope.

“Wonderful Charm loves good ground and there was no point wasting our time running him during the winter. We haven’t been able to give him a prep but he goes well fresh. He is a horse who could run very well in the Crabbie’s Grand National.

“Just A Par, who won the bet365 race at Sandown last season, stays well and, as long as the ground is not too bad and he gets jumping, he is not without a chance. He ran well (second) over too short a trip at Exeter today.

“Noel (Fehily) always rides Silviniaco Conti, while Nick Scholfield will ride Unioniste, with Sam (Twiston-Davies) on Wonderful Charm and Sean Bowen will ride Just A Par.”

Betfred’s two 12/1 second favourites are Silviniaco Conti (Paul Nicholls), a seven-time Grade One scorer, including twice in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree, and The Last Samuri (Kim Bailey), an impressive winner of the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster on March 5, when he came home 10 lengths clear of The Druids Nephew (Neil Mulholland, 14/1).

Phil Smith, Head of Handicapping at the British Horseracing Authority, revealed that The Last Samurai is 12lb well in, while Silviniaco Conti has 6lb in hand, Holywell 4lb well in, last year’s second Saint Are is also 4lb to the good but the biggest advantage is held by recent Cheltenham Festival winner Cause Of Causes, who is 57th in the weights and unlikely to get a run, who is 13lb well in.

The Last Samuri’s owners Paul and Clare Rooney also have another leading contender going forward in Kruzhlinin (Philip Hobbs, 25/1), who scored impressively at Kempton Park in February before finishing fifth in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last week.

Holywell (Jonjo O’Neill, 16/1) and Morning Assembly (Pat Fahy IRE, 25/1) both ran encouraging trials when second and fourth respectively in the Ultima Handicap Chase. Holywell’s trainer Jonjo O’Neill could also be represented by Shutthefrontdoor (25/1), who finished fifth last year under Sir A P McCoy.

O’Neill, at Aintree today, commented: “Holywell is in great form and he ran a lovely race at Cheltenham last week. He is a little monkey though and you need to keep that in the back of your mind.

“He ran as bad and as good in two different races. This time of year, he seems to be better in himself and good ground is very important to him. But I wouldn’t back him until he has jumped the third fence – he will love it or hate it.

“He was in great form going to Cheltenham but he wouldn’t go at all the time before at Doncaster. But he has a lot of talent when he puts it all together and he has come back from the Cheltenham race very well. We are looking forward to it.

“Shutthefrontdoor ran a blinder really last year to finish fifth and if I had had a young jockey on him he might have run better, the one we had was getting a bit old!

“His disappointing run last time was explained by abcesses in both front feet which was very strange but he is fine now. He nearly got the trip last year and he prefers good ground too.”

Other horses going forward to have run well at The Festival include Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup fourth Carlingford Lough (John Kiely IRE, 25/1) and Cause Of Causes (Gordon Elliott IRE, 16/1) who landed the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase.

There are 28 Irish-trained contenders going forward. Goonyella (Jim Dreaper IRE, 20/1) won the Midlands National at Uttoxeter last season and shaped promisingly when runner-up in the Leinster National at Naas on March 6 while Gallant Oscar (Tony Martin IRE, 25/1) won a valuable handicap chase at last year’s Punchestown Festival.

Saint Are (Tom George, 25/1) only found Many Clouds too goo last year and won at Doncaster last month while other horses with proven Aintree form still engaged include 2014 Crabbie’s Grand National victor Pineau De Re (Dr Richard Newland, 50/1), this season’s Betfred Becher Chase scorer Highland Lodge (Jimmy Moffatt, 50/1), Alvarado (Fergal O’Brien, 40/1), who has finished fourth in the last two renewals of the Crabbie’s Grand National and Triolo D’Alene (Nicky Henderson, 33/1), winner of the 2013 Crabbie’s Topham Chase.

Jimmy Moffat, who trains in the Lake District, was also at Aintree today and spoke about Highland Lodge.

He declared: “You have got to have a go and the chances for a smaller yard don’t come along too often.

“The Becher was the plan for Highland Lodge and he accomplished that and now hopefully onto the National. We are 50/50 to get in the race (52nd).

“He had a six-week break –easy work and steady away cantering – but has been hard at it since. The more (work) you give him, the better he gets. He is in great form and he dropped me this morning. He is flying and we are really looking forward to it.”

Ireland’s champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins, interviewed on the phone, talked about his hopes. He remarked: “All of mine are in good shape and we are looking forward to Liverpool.

“We have a chance in the (British) trainers’ championship so we might as well have a go so I am likely to have more runners during the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival.

“On His Own seems fine – he ran well enough at Cheltenham after not firing over the first mile there. I am hoping he will be a lot more home when he comes to Liverpool over this trip.

“The Bobbyjo Chase in February is usually a good pointer for the National and we are hoping Boston Bob makes it there in good shape.

“Sir Des Champs is in good form. We skipped Cheltenham with the view to going to Liverpool. He has a lovely mark and if he can come back anywhere near his previous form, he should have a great chance.

“We also have Turban and Ballycasey. We have been aiming Turban all year for the Crabbie’s Topham Chase, which he is in, but we will not be sure until nearer the day in which race he will run.

“Ballycasey will like the ground at Liverpool and is in off a really nice weight. Patrick (Mullins) usually rides On His Own, while Sir Des Champs could be Bryan Cooper and probably Ruby (Walsh) will ride Boston Bob.”

Philip Hobbs, another trainer whose words were said over the phone, commented: “Hopefully, we will get there one day (after two seconds). I would rather win the Crabbie’s Grand National rather than the Cheltenham Gold Cup. It is the race that everybody knows all around the world.

“You need a horse who is bold and brave but also sensible, Onenightinvienna is a thorough stayer. He has only had three runs over fences which is unusual but all the other big handicap chases these days are often won by an improving novice and I don’t see why the Grand National shouldn’t be as well.

“Kruzhlinin was very impressive at Kempton in January and would have been placed at Cheltenham a week ago but made a few mistakes at the end of the race. The trip won’t be a problem and he has been around the course before. Generally, his jumping is very good.”

The 2016 Crabbie’s Grand National
Grade Three handicap chase, £1,000,000 total prize fund. Aintree Racecourse. 5.15pm, Saturday, April 9, 2016, four miles, two and a half furlongs (4m 2f 74yds). For seven-year-olds and upwards which, up to and including March 21, have been placed first, second, third or fourth in a chase with an official distance description of ‘about three miles’ or more and which are allotted a rating of 120 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 14. Horses which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at closing may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible for a weight providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances up to and including February 14 would merit a minimum rating of 120. To qualify, horses must have run at least three times in chases run under the Rules of Racing of the same Recognised Racing Authority up to and including February 14. At the Handicapper’s discretion, such horses may be allocated a rating. The decision of the BHA Head of Handicapping shall be final. Entries closed, February 2, entries revealed February 3 (126 entries).Weights revealed February 16. First scratchings deadline March 1 (113 remained), second scratchings deadline March 22 (96 go forward). Five-day confirmation stage April 4, final declarations 10am, April 7. Maximum field 40 runners.

Horse Age/Wgt Owner Trainer
1) MANY CLOUDS (IRE) 9-11-10 Trevor Hemmings Oliver Sherwood
2) SILVINIACO CONTI (FR) 10-11-08 Potensis Bloodstock Ltd & Chris Giles Paul Nicholls
3) CARLINGFORD LOUGH (IRE) 10-11-07 J P McManus John Kiely IRE
4) FIRST LIEUTENANT (IRE) 11-11-04 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris IRE
5) WONDERFUL CHARM (FR) 8-11-03 Robin Geffen Paul Nicholls
6) THIRD INTENTION (IRE) 9-11-02 Robert and Sarah Tizzard Colin Tizzard
7) BALLYNAGOUR (IRE) 10-11-02 Allan Stennett David Pipe
8) O’FAOLAINS BOY (IRE) 9-11-01 Trembath, Hyde, Outhart & Hill Rebecca Curtis
9) GILGAMBOA (IRE) 8-11-01 J P McManus Enda Bolger IRE
10) ON HIS OWN (IRE) 12-11-01 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE

11) THE DRUIDS NEPHEW (IRE) 9-11-00 The Stonehenge Druids Neil Mulholland
12) TRIOLO D’ALENE (FR) 9-11-00 Sandy & Caroline Orr Nicky Henderson
13) ROCKY CREEK (IRE) 10-10-13 The Johnson & Stewart Families Paul Nicholls
14) SIR DES CHAMPS (FR) 10-10-13 Gigginstown House Stud Willie Mullins IRE
15) ROI DU MEE (FR) 11-10-13 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
16) HOLYWELL (IRE) 9-10-12 Gay Smith Jonjo O’Neill
17) SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR (IRE) 9-10-11 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
18) SOLL 11-10-11 Derrick Mossop David Pipe
19) BUYWISE (IRE) 9-10-10 T Hywel Jones Evan Williams
20) BOSTON BOB (IRE) 11-10-10 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE

21) TURBAN (FR) 9-10-10 Edward O’Connell Willie Mullins IRE
22) AACHEN 12-10-10 Tony Bloom Venetia Williams
23) MORNING ASSEMBLY (IRE) 9-10-09 Clipper Logistics Group Ltd Pat Fahy IRE
24) DOUBLE ROSS (IRE) 10-10-09 Options O Syndicate Nigel Twiston-Davies
25) GOONYELLA (IRE) 9-10-08 Ann & Alan Potts Partnership Jim Dreaper IRE
26) UCELLO CONTI (FR) 8-10-08 Simon Munir/Issac Souede Gordon Elliott IRE
27) UNIONISTE (FR) 8-10-08 John Hales Paul Nicholls
28) LE REVE (IRE) 8-10-08 Pat Betts Lucy Wadham
29) GALLANT OSCAR (IRE) 10-10-08 J P McManus Tony Martin IRE
30) ONENIGHTINVIENNA (IRE) 7-10-08 Judith Luff Philip Hobbs

31) THE LAST SAMURI (IRE) 8-10-08 Paul & Clare Rooney Kim Bailey
32) KRUZHLININ (GER) 9-10-07 Paul & Clare Rooney Philip Hobbs
33) RULE THE WORLD 9-10-07 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris IRE
34) JUST A PAR (IRE) 9-10-06 Graham Roach & Paul Barber Paul Nicholls
35) KATENKO (FR) 10-10-06 Andrew Brooks Venetia Williams
36) VICS CANVAS (IRE) 13-10-06 Bodeen Bandits Partnership Dermot McLoughlin IRE
37) LIVING NEXT DOOR (IRE) 10-10-06 John Breslin Tony Martin IRE
38) BLACK THUNDER (FR) 9-10-06 Donlon, MacDonald, Fulton & Webb Paul Nicholls
39) BALLYCASEY (IRE) 9-10-06 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
40) HADRIAN’S APPROACH (IRE) 9-10-06 Richard & Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes Nicky Henderson

41) SPRING HEELED (IRE) 9-10-05 Dr Ronan Lambe Jim Culloty IRE
42) KATKEAU (FR) 9-10-05 Prof Caroline Tisdall, J A Gent, R C Wilkin David Pipe
43) VIEUX LION ROUGE (FR) 7-10-05 Prof Caroline Tisdall & John Gent David Pipe
44) PENDRA (IRE) 8-10-05 J P McManus Charlie Longsdon
45) SAINT ARE (FR) 10-10-05 David Fox Tom George
46) HOME FARM (IRE) 9-10-04 Chris Jones Henry de Bromhead IRE
47) THE ROMFORD PELE (IRE) 9-10-04 Trembath & Outhart Rebecca Curtis
48) KNOCK HOUSE (IRE) 7-10-03 Tim Radford Mick Channon
49) BISHOPS ROAD (IRE) 8-10-03 Alan Halsall Kerry Lee
50) PINEAU DE RE (FR) 13-10-02 John Provan Dr Richard Newland

51) ALVARADO (IRE) 11-10-02 William & Angela Rucker Fergal O’Brien
52) HIGHLAND LODGE (IRE) 10-10-02 Bowes Lodge Stables James Moffatt
53) MAGGIO (FR) 11-10-02 Douglas Pryde/James Beaumont Patrick Griffin IRE
54) PERFECT CANDIDATE (IRE) 9-10-02 ISL Recruitment Fergal O’Brien
55) PRESENT VIEW 8-10-02 Sir Chips Keswick Jamie Snowden
56) MIDNIGHT PRAYER 11-10-01 The Legends Partnership Alan King
57) CAUSE OF CAUSES (USA) 8-10-01 J P McManus Gordon Elliott IRE
58) ROYALE KNIGHT 10-10-01 Chris Stedman & R J Corsan Dr Richard Newland
59) BALLY BEAUFORT (IRE) 8-10-01 Rob Rexton Nigel Twiston-Davies
60) DOUBLE SEVEN (IRE) 10-10-01 J P McManus Martin Brassil IRE

61) MOUNTAINOUS (IRE) 11-10-01 Hartley Phillips Roseff Shields Kerry Lee
62) SPLASH OF GINGE 9-10-00 John Neild Nigel Twiston-Davies
63) EMPEROR’S CHOICE (IRE) 9-10-00 The Bellamy Partnership Venetia Williams
64) CORRIN WOOD (IRE) 9-10-00 Dermot Hanafin Robert Rose Ian Whitfield Donald McCain
65) DARE TO ENDEAVOUR 9-10-00 Aidan Ryan Eric McNamara IRE
66) BLESS THE WINGS (IRE) 11-10-00 Adrian Butler/S P O’Connor Gordon Elliott IRE
67) MILBOROUGH (IRE) 10-9-13 Helen Cross Ian Duncan
68) GAS LINE BOY (IRE) 10-9-13 The Three Graces Jim Best
69) BOB FORD (IRE) 9-9-12 The JJ Partnership Rebecca Curtis

70) ROGUE ANGEL (IRE) 8-9-12 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris IRE
71) RUSSE BLANC (FR) 9-9-12 Mark Jackson Kerry Lee
72) FIREBIRD FLYER (IRE) 9-9-11 R E R Williams Evan Williams
73) MR MOONSHINE (IRE) 12-9-11 D Pryde, J Beaumont, D van der Hoeven 1 Sue Smith
74) BIG WATER (IRE) 8-9-10 Elm Row Racing Syndicate Alan Swinbank
75) SUMMERY JUSTICE (IRE) 12-9-09 Mrs H Brown Venetia Williams
76) COGRY 7-9-09 Graham and Alison Jelley Nigel Twiston-Davies
77) NO SECRETS (IRE) 12-9-09 Malcolm Denmark Tony Martin IRE
78) BENVOLIO (IRE) 9-9-09 Patricia Thompson Paul Nicholls
79) AMIGO (FR) 9-9-08 Andrew Cohen & Willsford Racing David Pipe

80) GOLDEN CHIEFTAIN (IRE) 11-9-08 Brocade Racing Colin Tizzard
81) STANDING OVATION (IRE) 9-9-07 The Bravo Partnershi David Pipe
82) INDIAN CASTLE (IRE) 8-9-07 Askew Dick Hernon Reynard Ian Williams
83) GOLDEN WONDER (IRE) 10-9-07 P M Cooney Sandra Hughes IRE
84) DOING FINE (IRE) 8-9-07 Carl Hinchy Rebecca Curtis
85) RIVAGE D’OR (FR) 11-9-07 Gigginstown House Stud Tony Martin IRE
86) WYCK HILL (IRE) 12-9-06 J P McManus David Bridgwater
87) IKORODU ROAD 13-9-06 W J Odell Graeme McPherson
88) PORTRAIT KING (IRE) 11-9-04 James Beaumont & Douglas Pryde Patrick Griffin IRE
89) WOODFORD COUNTY 9-9-04 The Englands and Heywoods Philip Hobbs

90) ANY CURRENCY (IRE) 13-9-03 Cash Is King Martin Keighley
91) TOUR DES CHAMPS (FR) 9-9-02 Caroline Mould Nigel Twiston-Davies
92) GODSMEJUDGE (IRE) 10-9-02 Favourites Racing Ltd David Dennis
93) SAROQUE (IRE) 9-9-02 Andrew Brooks Venetia Williams
94) AERLITE SUPREME (IRE) 9-9-01 M J Haines Evan Williams
95) FINANCIAL CLIMATE (IRE) 9-9-01 Sara Fillery & Friends Oliver Sherwood
96) HARRY THE VIKING 11-9-01 Jim Beaumont & Quona Thomson Sandy Thomson

96 horses go forward following March 22 scratchings deadline
28 Irish-trained

THE FOLLOWING 17 HORSES HAVE BEEN TAKEN OUT:
DON POLI (IRE), VALSEUR LIDO (FR), FOXROCK (IRE), SAM WINNER (FR), LORD WINDERMERE (IRE), LONG RUN (FR), BEAR’S AFFAIR (IRE), MENDIP EXPRESS (IRE), MON PARRAIN (FR), SHOTGUN PADDY (IRE), BENBENS (IRE), BROADWAY BUFFALO, GRAY HESSION (IRE), OUR FATHER (IRE), OPERATING (IRE), COMPETITIVE EDGE (IRE), RATHLIN

LATEST BETTING FOR THE CRABBIE’S GRAND NATIONAL FROM BETFRED – OFFICIAL BETTING PARTNER OF THE CRABBIE’S GRAND NATIONAL FESTIVAL

Crabbie’s Grand National – Betfred bet:
8 Many Clouds;
12 Silviniaco Conti, The Last Samuri;
14 The Druids Nephew;
16 Cause Of Causes, Holywell;
20 Goonyella;
25 Carlingford Lough, Gallant Oscar, Kruzhlinin, Morning Assembly, Saint Are, Shutthefrontdoor;
33 Boston Bob, First Lieutenant, Onenightinvienna, Triolo d’Alene, Ucello Conti, Unioniste;
40 Alvarado, Just A Par, Le Reve, Midnight Prayer, O’Faolains Boy, On His Own, Rule The World, Sir des Champs, Soll;
50 Ballycasey, Ballynagour, Black Thunder, Buywise, Double Ross, Double Seven, Hadrian’s Approach, Highland Lodge, Living Next Door, Mountainous, Pineau de Re, Royale Knight, The Romford Pele, Vieux Lion Rouge;
66 Aachen, Firebird Flyer, Gilgamboa, Home Farm, Katenko, Katkeau, Pendra, Perfect Candidate, Present View, Rocky Creek, Splash Of Ginge, Spring Heeled, Turban, Vics Canvas, Wonderful Charm;
100 Amigo, Any Currency, Bally Beaufort, Benvolio, Bless The Wings, Bob Ford, Cogry, Corrin Wood, Dare To Endevour, Doing Fine, Emperor’s Choice, Gas Line Boy, Godsmejudge, Golden Chieftain, Golden Wonder, Indian Castle, Knock House, Maggio, Milborough, Mr Moonshine, No Secrets, Portrait King, Rivage d’Or, Rogue Angel, Roi du Mee, Russe Blanc, Saroque, Standing Ovation, Summery Justice, Third Intention, Woodford County;
150 Big Water, Wyck Hill;
200 Aerlite Supreme, Financial Climate, Harry The Viking, Ikorodu Road, Tour Des Champs.
¼ 1-2-3-4

Crabbie’s Grand National Specials – Betfred bet: 4/6 Winner to carry under 11st, 11/10 Winner to carry 11st or more;
6/4 All horses to clear the first fence;
2 Irish-trained winner;
10 JP McManus to own the winner;
16 Female to train the winner;
20 Female to ride the winner.
WIN ONLY

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