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Last Updated: Friday, 2 April, 2004, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Aintree diary: Day two
By Frank Keogh
BBC Sport, Aintree

Jockey Tony Dobbin can be excused for having mixed feelings if his mount Gunner Welburn wins the Martell Cognac Grand National on Saturday.

Tony Dobbin
Man Utd fan Dobbin will carry the hopes of many Arsenal fans

With the Arsenal-Manchester United FA Cup semi-final taking place hours before the big race, the horse is likely to be well backed by Gunners fans.

But Dobbin, who is perhaps the most aptly-named of all jockeys, is an ardent United supporter.

Meanwhile, champion jockey Tony McCoy - due to ride the well-backed Jurancon II - will be cheering on his beloved Arsenal.

Riders will be able to watch the action on a television in the weighing room, but might miss the final whistle as they prepare for the opening race.

New mother Carrie Ford had the edge taken off her fairytale success over the Grand National fences on Forest Gunner - she was hit with a 100 fine.

Carrie triumphed in the Fox Hunters' Chase just 10 weeks after giving birth to her baby daughter Hannah.

But all 25 amateur riders in the race were fined by the stewards after being found guilty of disobeying the starter, Peter Haynes.

The runners had moved towards the starting tape before Haynes had mounted his rostrum.

Commentator John Hunt is in relaxed mood as he looks forward to calling his first National for BBC Five Live.

The 1999 Grand National
The Grand National provides a real test for commentators

Hunt, Aintree's racecourse commentator for several years, has taken over from Lee McKenzie, who left the station in October.

"I don't really get nervous. You just need a bit of luck, as it's a moving mass of colour when the racing's on," said Hunt, whose broadcast will be heard by millions of listeners worldwide.

Former champion jockey Peter Scudamore faces an anxious 10 minutes when watching the National as part of the BBC TV commentary team.

His 21-year-old son Tom will be riding in the race for the fourth time when he partners Shardam.

"It is much harder watching Tom ride round here than it ever was in my riding days. I get into a terrible state - my colleague Richard Pitman reckons I stop breathing, although he is prone to exaggeration," said Peter.

Thursday's Aintree crowd set a new record for the opening day of the National meeting.

Some 26,200 racegoers were at the course, up 17% on the corresponding day in 2003.

The total attendance for all three days is expected to be about 150,000.

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