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Last Updated:  Thursday, 3 April, 2003, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
Aintree Diary: Day one
By Sophie Brown
BBC Sport at Aintreee

Red Marauder goes over Bechers Brook in 2001
Red Marauder won't tackle Bechers Brook this year
Red Marauder, Grand National winner in 2001, was withdrawn from this year's race at Thursday's 48-hour stage.

But the 13-year-old will still have to do a bit of work to earn his corn on Saturday as he will now be taking part in the Parade of Champions.

He will be joined by seven other Grand National winners - Party Politics, Miinnehoma, Royal Athlete, Rough Quest, Lord Gyllene, Earth Summit and Papillon.

Oldest of the bunch are Miinnehoma and Royal Athlete, who have both reached the the grand old age of 20.

The former Aintree champions will parade in the paddock at 1145 BST and again on the course at 1320 BST.

Every horse that lines up for the Grand National has a shot at glory - but some owners are clearly trying to maximise their chances of victory.

Trevor Hemmings, in particular, who has three runners in the race (Chives, Southern Star and Goguenard).

Until Kingsmark was withdrawn on Thursday afternoon, Sir Robert Ogden had three declared but his chances now rest with Ad Hoc and Fadalko.

Peter Deal has two chances - Blowing Wind and Royal Predica while Lady Lloyd-Webber, who owns Killusty, is also part of the syndicate who own top weight Behrajan.

Gold Cup-winning trainer Henrietta Knight began her Aintree campaign well.

Maximize carries trainer Henrietta Knight hopes in the National
Midland Flame was her only runner on the opening day of the meeting but the 14-1 shot gave her stable a boost ahead of Saturday's big race, in which they have three runners.

It was also a good omen for winning owner, Trevor Hemmings, who also has three runners in the Grand National.

The Aintree meeting always sees big crowds but one man whose view is head and shoulders above the rest is stilt-walker Martin Long.

Long has worked at the Grand National festival for the past 12 years.

"I love it," he says. "Racegoers are a very good-natured bunch although there have been a couple of times when I've nearly been knocked off my stilts when they've got a bit over-excited.

Long spends the three days dressed as a tic-tac man although he admits he knows nothing about racing and that the signs he uses are made up.

"That's why I'm behind the stands rather than in front where the bookies are - otherwise I might cause chaos in the market!"

Links to more Grand National 2003 stories



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