With less than a week to go, local trainer David Pipe is making the final preparations to training for his entries in the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday 9th April.
David has three runners entered in the big race this year – Ballynagour, Soll and Vieux Lion Rouge – in his bid to repeat the success of Comply or Die in 2008. David said, “Winning the Grand National with Comply Or Die in only my second season as a trainer was a dream come true and will always be one of the highlights of my career.”
Reviewing his entries this year he said, “Ballynagour has done extremely well since joining us from France in 2013. He won at the Cheltenham Festival in 2014, the French Champion Hurdle Trial at Auteuil in 2015 and twice finished runner-up at Aintree on the Mildmay course. Consequently, he is towards the head of the weights. He certainly has a touch of class about him for a race such as the Grand National and, if he stays the 4m3½f marathon trip, it’s not difficult to imagine him acquitting himself very well.
“Soll has been there and done it all before, completing the Grand National course twice, finishing 7th in 2013 and 9th in 2015. He’s a joy to be associated with and he put up a typically gutsy performance when winning a valuable veteran’s chase at Sandown in January leaving him on a career-high handicap mark at the age of 11. He has stamina in abundance and will certainly give supporters a good run for their money.
“Vieux Lion Rouge ran a good race at the Cheltenham Festival last time out, finishing sixth in the four mile race for amateur riders. He creeps in towards the bottom of the weights on 10-5 and is another good string to our bow.
“All of our runners have been extensively schooled over our replica Grand National fences so they’ll know what’s expected of them come Saturday. Meanwhile, jockeys will be arranged during the week.
“We also have several other runners over the course of the three-day meeting with the likes of Dynaste, King’s Palace, Starchitect and Dell’ Arca (to name but a few) with possible engagements at the Aintree fixture.”
The Grand National is the penultimate race of a three-day programme and one which attracts huge interest from both the horse-racing fraternity and the general public. An audience of more than 10 million is anticipated, with 70,000 at Aintree. It will be run at a later time of 5.15pm this year in recognition of its unique appeal as the climax of the National Hunt season.