Bookies fear ‘McCoy factor’ in National

DON’T PUSH IT attempts to become the first horse since Red Rum to win back-to-back John Smith’s Grand Nationals when he faces a maximum field at Aintree on Saturday.

Plenty have put up a bold fight in a bid to win the famous race again, but all have failed.

The victory of Jonjo O’Neill’s Don’t Push It provided perennial champion jockey Tony McCoy with his first win in the race from his 15th attempt, landing a huge public gamble.

There are plenty of punters who think he will follow up and totesport have him as third-favourite at 12-1.

“The Midnight Club currently heads the National market at the final declaration stage, but there is a real head of steam building behind Don’t Push It and the McCoy factor may well ensure he goes off favourite,” said totesport spokesman George Primarolo.

O’Neill issued an upbeat bulletin ahead of his bid for history by saying: “He’s in great form, he’s had a good prep and he’s very well in himself.”

McCoy added: “He seems in good shape and I thought he ran a nice race in the Pertemps at Cheltenham – his form has been progressing.”

Silver By Nature has been talked of in terms of a Grand National horse for a couple of years now and connections have been persuaded to take a chance this year.

His trainer Lucinda Russell is in great form at present and is happy to run the grey after he booked his ticket with a fine win at Haydock.

“His owner (Geoff Brown) is chairman of St Johnstone Football Club. He is the longest-standing chairman in Scotland,” said Russell.

“We made our minds up to come here after Haydock. He was never worried about having a runner in the National, he just wanted one to be competitive.

“He was there the day the horse was foaled and he adores him.”

Jimmy Moffatt’s Chief Dan George just missed out by two for a run 12 months ago after he had won at Cheltenham and while he’s not in the same form this year, Moffatt feels he is coming to hand.

“He missed out by two last year and (handicapper) Phil Smith told me that if he had got in, he would probably have gone off favourite,” said Moffatt.

“It is just a job to get the horse to the parade ring. But, after that, if he gets into a rhythm over the first three or four fences and jumps well, he should go well.

“I school him at home. If everything goes right for him, he would have a good chance.”

The McCain family will always be associated with the race following the exploits of Red Rum and Donald, former trainer Ginger’s son, has a live chance with Ballabriggs.

“When Amberleigh House (2004 winner) came to us he was a two-and-a-half-miler and a very good work horse. You need a horse who can travel round Aintree and a lot of horses get outpaced and that is when accidents start happening,” said McCain.

“Ballabriggs wouldn’t want either extreme of ground, but good or good to soft would be absolutely fine.”

There were three withdrawals at the 48-hour declaration stage – the Irish-trained duo of Northern Alliance and Our Monty while Nigel Twiston-Davies also took out Roll Along.

That means Nicky Richards’ Skippers Brig and Adrian Maguire’s Golden Kite are guaranteed a run.

Maguire said: “I’m as pleased as punch to get in. Golden Kite is an economical jumper and just the sort of horse you need for the National. He has been in good form at home and now we know we are in we can jump on the ferry.”

Four reserves were also declared. Those are Always Waining, Faasel, Le Beau Bai and Giles Cross.

Picture: Ruby Walsh and Sire Collonges part company at the final hurdle in the Silver Cross Hurdle Race during Liverpool Day at Aintree yesterday. Pic: PA

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