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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 March, 2005, 08:00 GMT
McCain dismisses Ford Aintree bid
Carrie Ford rides Forest Gunner at Aintree last year
Ford rode Forest Gunner to victory in the Fox Hunters' Chase last year
Carrie Ford's hopes of riding Forest Gunner to victory in the John Smith's Grand National have been written off by legendary trainer Ginger McCain.

Ford, wife of trainer Richard, will ride the 11-year-old in the race after recently reapplying for her licence.

"Horses do not win Grand Nationals ridden by women, that's a fact," said McCain, Red Rum's trainer.

"Carrie is a grand lass, but she is a 'broodmare' now. Having kids does not get you fit to ride Grand Nationals."

Carrie Ford won the Fox Hunters' Chase over the National fences on Forest Gunner last year just 10 weeks after giving birth to daughter Hannah.

She planned to retire after that, but was tempted back into the saddle by the prospect of a ride in the world-famous steeplechase on 9 April.

McCain, who won three times with Red Rum in the 1970s and again with Amberleigh House last year, does not think Mrs Ford will be able to compete against professionals.

"Good luck to her, and they have a very good horse, there's no question of that," he added.

"But to go four and a half miles around Aintree you have to be a top-class professional.

"Going around in hunter chases and hurdle races is no comparison. So we will discount Forest Gunner."

Rosemary Henderson was the last woman to ride in the National when she finished fifth on 100-1 outsider Fiddlers Pike in 1994.

Mrs Ford is unconcerned about the statistics and took McCain's comments on the chin.

She said with a smile: "Anything is possible - I just hope he is wrong.

"I appreciate it has never been done, but in life, anything is possible. The only thing certain in life is death."

Mrs Ford partnered Forest Gunner in a two-mile gallop at Aintree on Tuesday with a stable companion at the track.

Her husband was delighted to see his charge has completely recovered after his victory in last month's Red Square Vodka Gold Cup at Haydock.

"So far so good," said Richard Ford. "Everything has gone to plan and hopefully we will get him there in one piece.

He's been here three times and won three times
Richard Ford on Forest Gunner's Aintree chances

"If I got him there in the same kind of fettle as I did at Haydock, I will be a very happy man."

Forest Gunner boasts a 100% record at Aintree, winning both the Fox Hunters' Chase and, last November, the Grand Sefton Chase.

"He's been here three times and won three times - he also won his novice hurdle here - so hopefully he can keep it going," added Ford.

"He will be entered in the Topham as well in case the ground goes desperate."

Forest Gunner is a general 16-1 chance for the National.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Female jockey Carrie Ford



SEE ALSO
House leads National contenders
22 Mar 05 |  Horse Racing
Ford and Forest Gunner chasing first
21 Feb 05 |  Horse Racing
Grand National's crowning glory
10 Feb 05 |  Fun and Games
Ford receives National clearance
13 Mar 05 |  Horse Racing
Aintree's National weighting game
10 Feb 05 |  Horse Racing


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