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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 April, 2005, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Ford eyes Grand National history
Graham Lee celebrates winning on Amberleigh House last year
Carrie Ford is bidding to make history by becoming the first woman to win the Grand National when she lines up for Saturday's race aboard Forest Gunner.

Ford's mount is the current 10-1 favourite for national hunt racing's showpiece event at 1610 BST.

But on the day of the royal wedding, she faces stiff competition from the appropriately-named Clan Royal.

Former Red Rum trainer Ginger McCain's entry, Amberleigh House, starts as defending champion.

Earlier this week McCain claimed a woman was incapable of winning the National.

But Ford, whose husband Richard trains Forest Gunner, told BBC Sport: "I think Ginger's wrong because Forest Gunner is a horse that will not take quite the same amount of organising that other horses would."

There is no doubting Ford's toughness after she rode Forest Gunner to victory in last season's Fox Hunters' Chase over the National fences just 10 weeks after giving birth to a baby girl.

As soon as the royal wedding finishes, punters will be backing Clan Royal, minutes after Camilla joins the royal clan
Ladbrokes' Balthazar Fabricius
Should she win, the British bookmaking industry will lose up to 100m, according to William Hill.

A spokesman for the firm said: "Never have the housewives and working mothers of the UK latched on to a jockey like they have with Carrie."

The expected turnover from the race looks set to be 250m, according to Ladbrokes.

Their spokesman Balthazar Fabricius claimed the wedding of HRH Prince of Wales to Camilla Parker-Bowles would have a late impact on the betting.

He said: "Punters have latched on to Carrie Ford but, as soon as the royal wedding finishes, punters will be backing Clan Royal, minutes after Camilla joins the royal clan."

The royal wedding has already had an impact on this year's race, with the event pushed back by 25 minutes to 1610.

That is not the only disruption at Aintree. There will be severe disruption after rail guards on Merseyrail announced a strike on Friday and Saturday in a dispute over a 35-hour week.

Despite that, more than 75,000 spectators are expected at Aintree.

The first three horses home in 2004 - Amberleigh House, Clan Royal and Lord Atterbury - are among Saturday's runners for the 158th running of the race.

Last year's runner-up Clan Royal, with champion jockey Tony McCoy aboard, could bid to atone for a disappointing season for trainer Jonjo O'Neill and is one of six J P McManus-owned entries still in the field.

O'Neill has a total of four runners after first reserve Native Emperor replaced late withdrawal Turnium on Friday.

The top weight is the Christy Roche-trained Le Coudray, who will carry 11st 12lbs.

Irish runners are led by the Willie Mullins-trained Hedgehunter, for owner Trevor Hemmings.

Scottish hopes are led by the grey Strong Resolve, who has been well backed in recent days and is now as low as 10-1 for the race.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Live BBC TV coverage from Aintree


BBC Five Live live coverage from Aintree


Watch the BBC Grand National coverage trailer



SEE ALSO
Aintree's National weighting game
10 Feb 05 |  Horse Racing
Punters eye right royal result
04 Apr 05 |  Fun and Games
Ford and Forest Gunner chasing first
21 Feb 05 |  Horse Racing



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