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Page last updated at 18:15 GMT, Thursday, 7 April 2011 19:15 UK

Grand National meeting: Aintree runners and riders

JOHN SMITH'S GRAND NATIONAL
Venue: Aintree Date:
Saturday, 9 April Start: 1615 BST

By Honest Frank

1. Calgary Bay 2. Don't Push It 3. Oscar Time
4. Niche Market 5. West End Rocker

Aintree legend Jenny Pitman told me 16 months ago that CALGARY BAY was an ideal Grand National contender. Trainer Henrietta Knight has been out of form, but could spring a surprise (33-1 at time of writing). Don't Push It can go close again, Oscar Time has a lovely profile, while Niche Market ticks boxes. West End Rocker won the National in my dream on Monday night.

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(Number, form, horse's name, age, weight, trainer, jockey)
Odds are approximate and for information purposes only

Don't Push It

1

23P1-P070 DON'T PUSH IT 11 11-10
Jonjo O'Neill Tony McCoy
Winner of the 2010 race as the champion jockey finally claimed the Grand National at the 15th attempt. Has 5lb more weight to carry this time, but relished the challenge 12 months ago, is primed for this and has the look of previous winners such as Hedgehunter and Comply or Die, who came second the following year.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 12-1

Tidal Bay

2

104-3226 TIDAL BAY (IRE) 10 11-09
Howard Johnson Brian Hughes
Former Arkle Chase winner at the Cheltenham Festival, but the four-and-a half miles here are more than twice that trip. Stayed on well to be second behind former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander at Haydock in November. Could pass beaten horses and a tricky one to assess with any authority.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 33-1

What A Friend

3

61/211-524 WHAT A FRIEND 8 11-06
Paul Nicholls Daryl Jacob
Jointly owned by Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who would love a victory in Liverpool, and is good friends with the trainer. Winner of two Grade One races, and just pipped by a nose for third in last month's Cheltenham Gold Cup by stablemate Kauto Star. Plenty of ability, should like ground, but tough race only three weeks ago.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 12-1

Vic Venturi

4

501B-7744 VIC VENTURI (IRE) 11 11-06
Dessie Hughes IRE Andrew Lynch
Trainer has been unlucky in the Grand National. His big hope Timbera was a late withdrawal in 2004 and Black Apalachi ran a cracker to be runner-up last year. Vic Venturi is a former winner of the Becher Chase over the National fences but suspicion age is against him now.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 40-1

Majestic Concorde

5

U62/1-31 MAJESTIC CONCORDE (IRE) 8 11-05
Dermot Weld IRE Mr Robbie McNamara
Canny handler is the only European trainer to have won the Melbourne Cup in Australia. And he's done it twice. Has also been successful in the Gold Cup at Ascot. Interesting that he is targeting this race, in which he saddled Greasepaint to twice finish runner-up in the 1980s. Weight a concern, but is an intriguing prospect.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 33-1

Or Noir De Somoza

6

2F1425 OR NOIR DE SOMOZA (FR) 9 11-05
David Pipe Barry Geraghty
Stable won the race in 2008 with Comply Or Die, and trainer's father Martin won with Miinnehoma in 1984. Talented French horse has raced mainly in his homeland but reports from those close to the yard say he has schooled well and they are hopeful of a big run. Their other leading contender, Junior, failed to make the cut but could be one for next year. Berry Geraghty replaces the injured Tom Scudamore in the saddle.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 50-1

Dooneys Gate

7

01F24-41 DOONEYS GATE (IRE) 10 11-04
Willie Mullins IRE Mr Patrick Mullins
Beat Northern Alliance at Clonmel in February and has been placed over the National obstacles before in the Topham Chase but slightly high in the weights to make a big case for, and there is also a significant question mark over whether he will see out this demanding trip. Young jockey rides for his father, who won the 2005 Grand National with Hedgehunter.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 50-1

Big Fella Thanks

8

2U14-2F44 BIG FELLA THANKS 9 11-01
Ferdy Murphy Graham Lee
Sixth and fourth in last two Nationals. Finished very tired last year. Transferred from champion trainer Paul Nicholls by former owner Harry Findlay, who sold out to syndicate last month. Has enjoyed good preparation and could well be among the leaders in the closing stages though does he have the stamina to last out?
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 16-1

The Tother One

9

205-244 THE TOTHER ONE (IRE) 10 11-00
Paul Nicholls Mr Ryan Mahon
Decent fourth in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November, which was won by Diamond Harry. Has won six races in his career, but five of those were in hurdles and just the one over fences. Powerful stable appears to have better options in Niche Market and What A Friend.
Rating: 5/10 Odds: 66-1

Ballabriggs

10

3111-112 BALLABRIGGS (IRE) 10 11-00
Donald McCain Jason Maguire
Solid form for the son of Aintree legend Ginger McCain, who won the National a record three times with Red Rum, and claimed a fourth courtesy of Amberleigh House. Family clearly know what it takes to win the race, but does the horse? Beaten by Skippers Brig on his last outing in March.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 14-1

The Midnight Club

11

U3133-21 THE MIDNIGHT CLUB (IRE) 10 10-13
Willie Mullins IRE Ruby Walsh
Chosen by rider, who is only current jockey to have won Grand National twice, ahead of others including Niche Market and What A Friend. Defeated Arbor Supreme and Oscar Time in Bobbyjo Chase, a decent National trial, at Fairyhouse. Must have leading claims although difference in weights here could be crucial.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 8-1

Niche Market

12

529P-F58 NICHE MARKET (IRE) 10 10-13
Paul Nicholls Harry Skelton
Former Irish Grand National winner. Owned by larger-than-life Dubliner Graham Regan. Boasts some excellent form in top races, including second in the Aon Chase and a Hennessy third. Jockey is son of showjumper Nick Skelton, and the young rider's brother Dan, who is assistant to the trainer, celebrates his birthday on Grand National day.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 16-1

Silver By Nature

13

5121-071 SILVER BY NATURE 9 10-12
Lucinda Russell Peter Buchanan
Second in the 2009 Welsh National, the grey is bidding to become the first Scottish-trained winner of the Grand National since Rubstic in 1979. Trainer is assisted by former champion jockey Peter Scudamore who earmarked the horse, a son of former St Leger winner Silver Patriarch, as an Aintree type. Might need softer ground.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 12-1

Backstage

14

0BP-57011 BACKSTAGE (FR) 9 10-12
Gordon Elliott IRE Paul Carberry
Partly owned by small group of stable staff who paid £100 each for a share and could get a windfall of £20,000 or so each if he wins. Was running well last year when unseating his rider after being hampered. Trainer looks destined for the top. His nan plays bingo with my aunt but I missed the jackpot when his horse Silver Birch won the Grand National in 2007.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 11-1

Chief Dan George

15

30011-753F CHIEF DAN GEORGE (IRE) 11 10-12
Jimmy Moffatt Paddy Aspell
Would be a strong contender based on his win at the Cheltenham Festival in 2010. Scottish trainer was laid low by a blood infection earlier in year and says thought of running his stable star in the Grand National helped him "out of a dark place". Horse's form this year has been less convincing and he fell last time out.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 40-1

Calgary Bay

16

4-56242 CALGARY BAY (IRE) 8 10-10
Henrietta Knight Hadden Frost
Jenny Pitman, who trained two National winners, told me this horse was an ideal Aintree type back in December 2009, the day after he won on good ground over three miles at Doncaster. Calgary Bay's trainer Henrietta Knight, who guided Best Mate to three Cheltenham Gold Cup wins, has been in better form. Stamina question mark, but never fallen in 15 races over fences. National debut for jockey whose father Jimmy won on Little Polveir in 1989.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 33-1

Killyglen

17

P2P-2536 KILLYGLEN (IRE) 9 10-10
Stuart Crawford IRE Robert Power
Won a novices' chase at Aintree two years ago, but that was his last victory. Does have the benefit of Irish jockey, nicknamed 'Puppy' Power, who was winner of the 2007 Grand National on Silver Birch.
Rating: 6/10 Odds: 66-1

Oscar Time

18

3152-263 OSCAR TIME (IRE) 10 10-09
Martin Lynch IRE Mr Sam Waley-Cohen
Big chance. Owned by jockey's father Robert, together with Sir Martin Broughton and the former Liverpool FC chairman's brother Steve. Amateur rider, who is friend of royal bride-to-be Kate Middleton, has won three times in other races over the National fences and has landed the King George VI Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup on Long Run already this season.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 12-1

Quinz

19

510-1131 QUINZ (FR) 7 10-08
Philip Hobbs Richard Johnson
Impressive winner of Racing Post Chase at Kempton in February. Owned by Birmingham City fan Andrew Cohen, who also had dual National runner-up Suny Bay. Stable had runner-up What's Up Boys in 2002 and are great at getting one ready for a big race. Statistics are against seven-year-old horses winning this race, however.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 20-1

Becauseicouldntsee

20

2212-42 BECAUSEICOULDNTSEE (IRE) 8 10-08
Noel Glynn IRE Davy Russell
One wag on Twitter joked that if What A Friend is owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, Becauseicouldntsee should be one for Arsene Wenger. Joking aside, he ran well when second at the Cheltenham Festival in 2010 and could take to these fences. Was second to Majestic Concorde on his last run back in December.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 28-1

Comply or Die

21

2/000-06P COMPLY OR DIE (IRE) 12 10-08
David Pipe Timmy Murphy
The 2008 Grand National winner was second a year later to Mon Mome so clearly has no trouble with the track and fences. Only finished 12th last year so conclusion is that his best days are behind him, although would be no surprise if he put in a clear round.
Rating: 6/10 Odds: 28-1

Quoilbet

22

2F-FF25P QUOLIBET (FR) 7 10-08
Jonjo O'Neill Mark Walsh
Three falls in his last six races make this French horse a no-no for me. Runs for the team who appear to have a much better candidate in the 2010 National winner Don't Push It.
Rating: 5/10 Odds: 100-1

Grand Slam Hero

23

11FP18P GRAND SLAM HERO (IRE) 10 10-07
Nigel Twiston-Davies Aidan Coleman
Pulled up twice in his last four races for the trainer who has won the Grand National twice, with Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002). May go the same way as England's attempt at a rugby union Grand Slam. Found wanting at the finish.
Rating: 5/10 Odds: 100-1

State of Play

24

0/144/P3- STATE OF PLAY 11 10-06
Evan Williams Paul Moloney
Fourth in 2009 National and third last year, when he was my selection. Surprisingly, was dropped 5lb in the weights this time despite not racing since his Aintree outing last year. Trainer concedes he may not be good enough to win, although he would not be the biggest surprise to finish in the places.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 25-1

King Fontaine

25

3211-11P5 KING FONTAINE (IRE) 8 10-06
Malcolm Jefferson Denis O'Regan
Won four races on the bounce last year, but has disappointed in his last two starts, with some questionable jumping when fifth at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Cannot see this king being crowned Grand National winner.
Rating: 6/10 Odds: 100-1

In Compliance

26

566U-3431U IN COMPLIANCE (IRE) 11 10-05
Dessie Hughes IRE Leighton Aspell
One of the more talented horses in the field on his best form, and possibly a bigger price than he ought to be. However, unseated rider last time, is getting on in years and career has been interrupted by injuries.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 50-1

Hello Bud

27

005P-1P HELLO BUD (IRE) 13 10-05
Nigel Twiston-Davies Sam Twiston-Davies
Looked a potential winner for much of the way round last year under jockey who was then aged only 17, riding for his dual National-winning father. Proved he likes Aintree when winning the Becher Chase in November, but only five years younger than his rider and may not quite see out the trip.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 40-1

West End Rocker

28

2P/07-11P WEST END ROCKER (IRE) 9 10-05
Alan King Robert Thornton
This horse was barely on my radar until Monday night when I had a dream. I rarely remember my dreams, but this one was crystal clear. The winner of the Grand National was West End Rocker. People said I was off my rocker when I told them, but has an outside squeak based on two fine wins earlier in the season.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 40-1

Santa's Son

29

6-2207710 SANTA'S SON (IRE) 11 10-05
Howard Johnson Jamie Moore
Has been running over much shorter than this gruelling trip and performance at Cheltenham last month was not a cracker. Will Christmas come early for Santa's Son? I don't think so.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 100-1

Bluesea Cracker

30

0C21-046 BLUESEA CRACKER (IRE) 9 10-04
James Motherway IRE Andrew McNamara
Winner of last year's Irish Grand National, when Oscar Time was runner-up. Bought by millionaire owner JP McManus last week. That run puts the mare in the picture, although the unknown is whether she will act as well on a firmer surface as she has done in heavier conditions.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 20-1

That's Rhythm

31

391059 THAT'S RHYTHM (FR) 11 10-04
Martin Todhunter James Reveley
Falls in the last two runnings of the Scottish National are a big concern. Should enjoy good ground and did win a hurdles race at Aintree, albeit four years ago. Fear it will be the blues for Rhythm backers.
Rating: 5/10 Odds: 100-1

Surface To Air

32

PP2/111/-0 SURFACE TO AIR 10 10-04
Chris Bealby Tom Messenger
Won the Midlands National in the summer of 2008, but has not raced over fences since because of injury. Would be an impressive training performance if he was in the shake-up. Not my idea of the winner.
Rating: 5/10 Odds: 66-1

Piraya

33

00P-234PP PIRAYA (FR) 8 10-04
David Pipe Johnny Farrelly
Decent winner at Warwick in early 2010, the French-bred went on to finished 13th in the National at Aintree. Pulled up on his last two starts. Stable seemingly much keener on Or Noir De Somoza.
Rating: 5/10 Odds: 100-1

Can't Buy Time

34

16F-8P5P CAN'T BUY TIME (IRE) 9 10-04
Jonjo O'Neill Richie McLernon
Has some decent form, but most of it is from three years ago. Has fallen in the last two runnings of the National, which does not prompt confidence. Stable won the race for the first time last year with Don't Push It, and he is their main hope again.
Rating: 5/10 Odds: 66-1

Character Building

35

000-30563 CHARACTER BUILDING (IRE) 11 10-04
John Quinn Miss Nina Carberry
The grey featured in my top five last year, when he finished seventh. Nina Carberry will once again take the ride as she bids to become the first lady to land the Grand National. Her brother Paul is in opposition on Backstage. Victory would have echoes of National Velvet, the movie in which Elizabeth Taylor - who died last month - played a young lady who won the National.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 25-1

Ornais

36

1215/1P/-52 ORNAIS (FR) 9 10-04
Paul Nicholls Nick Scholfield
Looked to be a decent prospect three years ago when running well in several races, and claiming a nice contest at Cheltenham in late 2008. Sidelined for two years and less impressive since his return. Stable has better-fancied contenders in Niche Market and What A Friend.
Rating: 6/10 Odds: 66-1

Arbor Supreme

37

0U2F-0P2 ARBOR SUPREME (IRE) 9 10-03
Willie Mullins IRE David Casey
Second to The Midnight Club at Fairyhouse. However, fell at The Chair in last year's Grand National. Quietly fancied by a few decent judges. I'm not one of them.
Rating: 6/10 Odds: 20-1

Royal Rosa

38

P5U-42P ROYAL ROSA (FR) 12 10-03
Howard Johnson Paul Gallagher
Trainer says horse will be retired after the race. Would be nice to see him have a clear round in his final engagement. Good second in the Becher Chase over the National fences in November, but unseated rider in 2010 running of this race and was pulled up in Welsh National.
Rating: 6/10 Odds: 66-1

Skippers Brig

39

41/313-011 SKIPPERS BRIG (IRE) 10 10-02
Nicky Richards Dominic Elsworth
One of three horses who squeezed in when a trio of runners pulled out this week. Won his last two races, and gets in off a handy weight. Potentially very interesting if he can convert his good form on softer ground to the drier conditions that are likely here.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 40-1

Golden Kite

40

1d10019 GOLDEN KITE (IRE) 9 10-02
Adrian Maguire IRE Shane Hassett
Winner of the Munster National earlier in the season. Irish trainer, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup as a jockey in 1992 on Cool Ground, was 'pleased as punch' after horse was the final one to make the field on Thursday. And so he should be as he saddles his first runner in England.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 50-1



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see also
Grand National sweep kit
07 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing
Field declared for Grand National
07 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing
Debutant dreaming of National win
08 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing
Our Monty out of Grand National
06 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing
Don't Push It in form - O'Neill
05 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing
Williams writes off National hope
09 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing
Can Silver end Scottish drought?
04 Apr 11 |  Scotland
Walsh picks Grand National ride
27 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
Ferguson's Friend set for Aintree
22 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
Denman loses after Big Buck's win
07 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing
Master Minded wins Melling Chase
08 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing
McCoy ends wait for National win
11 Apr 10 |  Horse Racing
Grand National meeting schedule
23 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
BBC racing coverage
09 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing


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