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Grand National headline makers?

John Smith's Grand National, Aintree, Saturday, 1615 BST
Coverage BBC One/BBC HD/BBC Radio 5 live/online, with other races also across the BBC 8-10 April. Highlights: 0030, BBC Two

Runners in the Grand National
Runners jump Becher's Brook in the Grand National

By Frank Keogh

From Foinavon to Aldaniti and Red Rum to Mon Mome, the Grand National at Aintree is famed for throwing up fairytale victories.

Here we look at five potential headline grabbers from this year's race on Saturday.

The field of 40 was declared on Thursday.


Dream Alliance

DREAM ALLIANCE

Trainer: Philip Hobbs, Somerset Jockey: Tom O'Brien Owner: The Alliance Partnership Odds: 40-1

Headline? Dream result for National hero

Bred on a Welsh slag heap allotment. Owned by a syndicate that includes an ex-noodle factory worker. Back from career-saving surgery.

It is little wonder Hollywood has come calling since the BBC first reported on this remarkable horse days before he won the Welsh Grand National in December.

A Los Angeles production company has approached the 23-strong syndicate, with each member having paid £10 a week to keep their 'Dream' going after he needed pioneering stem-cell treatment following an accident while racing at Aintree.

Leading syndicate member Jan Vokes, of Blackwood, Gwent, has turned from racing pigeons to racing horses.

They say: "There are four bookmakers round here and they were all cleaned out." (Syndicate member Brian Vokes after the Welsh National win).


Sam Twiston-Davies

HELLO BUD

Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies, Gloucestershire
Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies Owner: Seamus Murphy Odds: 40-1

Headline?Go on, my son

The Twiston-Davies clan aim to keep it in the family as teenager Sam rides for his trainer father Nigel in the four-and-a-half mile marathon.

Dual National winner Nigel, who triumphed with Earth Summit in 1998 and Bindaree four years later, has a habit of springing surprises.

He masterminded the defeat of star steeplechasers Kauto Star and Denman in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March with his own star, Imperial Commander.

Then 17-year-old Sam followed up in the next race by riding Baby Run to victory to spark wild celebrations at the Hollow Bottom pub, in which Nigel has a share.

They say: "I got a rollocking from Dad for every one of my first 30 rides. I don't want another on Saturday." (Sam Twiston-Davies).


Gordon Elliott

BACKSTAGE

Trainer: Gordon Elliott, County Meath, Ireland
Jockey: Davy CondonOwner: MPR & Capranny Syndicate Odds: 20-1

Headline? Stable relationship helps Aintree hero

The stable lads and lasses at National-winning trainer Gordon Elliott's Irish yard have good reason to be backing Backstage.

A group of them stumped up £100 each to buy a share in the horse and stand to collect an estimated £10,000 each if he wins the National.

Backstage will carry the colours of Middleham Park Racing but the other half belongs to the Capranny Stable Staff Syndicate in a deal brokered by former jump jockey Tom Malone.

Elliott, then 29, became the youngest trainer of a National winner for years when he guided Silver Birch to victory in 2007. At the time, he had not even secured a winner in his homeland.

They say: "A pint to celebrate? Yes, a pint of champagne." (Gordon Elliott after winning 2007 National).


Character Building

CHARACTER BUILDING

Trainer: John Quinn, Malton, Yorkshire
Jockey: Nina CarberryOwner: Patricia Thompson Odds: 20-1

Headline? Character makes it lady's day at Aintree

The news that Nina Carberry has been handed such a strong chance to become the first woman to ride a Grand National winner is sure to attract the punters' attention.

And there is something about a grey horse that sparks the imagination. Think Desert Orchid.

Character Building, who was well fancied for the 2009 Grand National before a late injury, is bidding to become the first grey winner for nearly 50 years.

Another omen is on his side as new owners David and Patricia Thompson - who own the Cheveley Park Stud - bought him just seven days before the big race in the year of a general election.

The same owners bought a horse around the time of the 1992 General Election. And that purchase, Party Politics, won the big race days later.

They say: " "Nina has proved time and again that she can mix it with the best and the Thompsons were very keen to acquire her services. Roll on Saturday." (Trainer John Quinn).


Tony McCoy

DON'T PUSH IT

Trainer: Jonjo O'Neill, Gloucestershire
Jockey: Tony McCoy Owner: JP McManusOdds: 33-1

Headline?Unreal McCoy proves the Grand master at last

Fourteen times the champion jockey on the trot. More than 3,000 winners.

But the gaping, agonising hole in Tony McCoy's glittering CV is he has yet to savour victory in the most famous race of all.

The Northern Irishman is currently following in the tradition of a long line of great jockeys, including Peter Scudamore, John Francome and Jonjo O'Neill, who never won the race.

Don't Push It is marginally more likely to be McCoy's mount than his alternative ride Can't Buy Time. Both are trained by O' Neill and owned by JP McManus and all are looking for their maiden Grand National win.

They say: "It couldn't be wetter, or colder, he's starving to bits, but he can go and ride finishes like that." (Trainer Nicky Henderson after McCoy's 3,000th win).



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see also
Carberry rides National contender
08 Apr 10 |  Horse Racing
Twiston-Davies eyes National bow
01 Apr 10 |  Horse Racing
McCoy picks Grand National ride
08 Apr 10 |  Horse Racing
BBC to show Grand National in HD
29 Mar 10 |  Horse Racing
Grand National meeting schedule
05 Apr 10 |  Horse Racing
Dream Alliance is a Grand chance
23 Mar 10 |  Horse Racing
Mullins trio pull out of National
03 Mar 10 |  Horse Racing
Aintree to honour National greats
16 Feb 10 |  Horse Racing
Ex-winners head Aintree entries
03 Feb 10 |  Horse Racing
Mon Mome seals shock National win
04 Apr 09 |  Horse Racing
Comply Or Die wins Grand National
05 Apr 08 |  Horse Racing
Silver Birch wins Grand National
14 Apr 07 |  Horse Racing
BBC racing coverage
09 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
ITN Grand National runners named - 6 hrs ago
AOL UK Big guns hold sway for National - 19 hrs ago
Sky Sports No withdrawals from National - 21 hrs ago
Daily Express Our Grand National Dream - 29 hrs ago
The Independent Field of dreams: How do trainers prepare a horse for the Grand National? - 31 hrs ago


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