King hoping D'Argent takes to national fences

Trainer Alan King admits he has “no idea” whether D’Argent can become the first grey winner of the John Smith’s Grand National for almost half a century tomorrow.

Trainer Alan King admits he has “no idea” whether D’Argent can become the first grey winner of the John Smith’s Grand National for almost half a century tomorrow.

King hopes D’Argent takes to the unique Aintree fences as the 11-year-old bids to emulate Nicolaus Silver’s 1961 triumph.

He said: “I have no idea whether D’Argent will take to the fences on Saturday - I think we’ll know our fate early on in the race.”

Jockey Robert Thornton, seeking his first victory in 11 attempts, agrees, adding: “I schooled D’Argent on Monday. He’s kind of got his own way of doing things jumping-wise, but I’m not going to change that.

“He’s in good form so as long as I get him into a rhythm early he’ll certainly give me a good ride.”

Bewleys Berry fell at Becher’s on the second circuit last year, but Howard Johnson’s charge has got round the famous course twice when finishing runner-up in the last two renewals of the Becher Chase.

Owner Graham Wylie said: “He was pulled up last time and there were two reasons for it. Firstly it was very heavy ground and he doesn’t go on that.

“Howard wanted to get him out before Aintree and the only other option was at Doncaster, where it was firm, and we didn’t want to risk him on that either.

“The other thing is that he doesn’t seem to run very well anywhere apart from Aintree. They say horses for courses, and he’s one of them.

“He’s only ever won for me on his first time as a novice chaser at Wetherby. Everywhere else, he’s been disappointing, but he just seems to light up at Aintree and let’s hope he does so on Saturday.”

Timmy Murphy admits he has played safe in choosing Comply Or Die over Vodka Bleu as his mount tomorrow.

Murphy, without a National win in 12 attempts, felt he could not desert the more fancied runner, especially after winning the Eider Chase at Newcastle.

“I think it was the safest decision. He’s proved that he stays and that he jumps safely, two things you need to do in the National,” he said.

“Vodka Bleu is an old favourite of mine and a lovely old horse. We’ve had some great days. He’s been round here while Comply hasn’t, (but) I couldn’t get off the second or third favourite for a 33-1 shot.”

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