Saturday – Aintree
It’s been sixty years since my Grandad won the Grand National now, on Oxo back in 1959, and it would be incredible to go full circle and win it this year. I can’t wait for the race, it is always such a highlight on the calendar, and I’m really looking forward to riding Vieux Lion Rouge in it.
Tiger Roll is undoubtedly a short price but there were people saying a couple of weeks ago that had he of ran in the Gold Cup he would have had a great chance of winning that. If you are of that opinion then you must think he is a good price to win again here! A horse has to win back to back Nationals at some point and he does probably have as good a chance as any in my time riding since Hedgehunter.
Away from the Grand National, two of my favourite horses retired this week. Un Temps Pour Tout and Moon Racer were both fantastic horses and gave me some brilliant rides along the way. Un Temps had all the ability in the world, winning a French Champion Hurdle and then back to back Ultima Handicaps at Cheltenham, whilst Moon Racer’s win in the Champion Bumper was a special moment.
It is a shame to see them both retired but they gave me some great memories in their careers.
1.45 – Poker Play
Poker Play was very impressive last time out at Uttoxeter last time out and we’re stepping him up in trip here which should suit. The rain has come at the right time too and we’re confident that he has a very good chance of running a big race here.
2.25 – Umbrigado
Umbrigado is such an exciting horse, unbeaten and three from three. All through the season we have thought that he would be one of our shining lights and this race has been the plan for a long time.
You can never underestimate the difference that missing Cheltenham can make, whilst good horses can naturally ran big races at both it can take a lot out your horse. It is a big boost for us to come here fresh and with ground that we know he will like. I’m hoping that he can show everybody just how good he can be.
3.40 – West Approach
Paisley Park has been West Approach’s nemesis all season but luckily we don’t have to take him on again this time.
His price seems quite fair because the staying division is so strong at the moment but without Paisley Park we certainly have a chance of running into a place.
4.20 – Polydora
Polydora won round Newcastle earlier this season and is a very solid horse. He has improvement to find but there is certainly talent there and fingers crossed that tomorrow will be a day that it shines through.
The Grand National
5.15 – Vieux Lion Rouge
This is Vieux Lion Rouge’s fourth crack at the National now and I can’t wait for it. Ramses De Teillee is a great horse in his own right, although there is question mark over his stamina, and my choice to ride Vieux in this one is by no means a reflection of Ramses’ chances. I just felt that Vieux has been so good to me and that I could not pass up this opportunity.
I have probably won more races on him than any other horse, including the likes of the Becher Chase and a Grand National Trial. It was a tough choice but I know him so well and I’m sticking with him here.
We’ve always ridden him to try and be in contention at the second last and see if we can stay it out. He seems to always stay that little bit extra every year older he gets and that increasing stamina is a huge boost going into the race.
His last two times out haven’t been so successful but I do think he is a little overpriced at the moment this time around. He is in the best form at home that he has been for quite some time. I schooled him last week and he really came alive. He wouldn’t be the first horse to come back and eventually finally stay the trip and I’ve very realistic hopes of him running a massive race here.