Grand National-winning jockey Mick Fitzgerald believes previous experience over the famous fences is a vital asset for this year’s winner.
Successful on Rough Quest in 1996, the jockey-turned television pundit believes Saturday’s Aintree showpiece is as competitive as ever – and doubts whether ante-post favourite On His Own is any value in the betting.
“Horses that have done well there tend to do well every time over the National fences,” said Fitzgerald.
“There is a tried and tested routine and for good reason. Look at Hedgehunter and Ballabriggs, who ran an absolute blinder last year.
“You get certain horses who just like being back there. The greatest National horse there ever was was Red Rum, so that just shows you.
There are plenty of runners with a chance this year.
“The tried and trusted ones have been there before, like Seabass and Sunnyhillboy.”
Referring to the Willie Mullins runner On His Own, the intended mount of Ruby Walsh, Fitzgerald said: “Somebody said the other day we’re going to have the shortest-priced favourite for a few years, but I don’t know where that’s coming from as, from where I’m standing, I think it is wide open. It should almost be 10-1 the field as it is that competitive this year.
“I would love to see the fairytale come true and Katie Walsh to win the National aboard Seabass – it would be a great story.”
Fitzgerald forms part of the new Channel 4 line-up, fronted by Clare Balding, which takes over from the BBC to cover the National for the first time.
“I have no doubt the team has gelled as the year has progressed and I thought we had a very good Cheltenham as a team. I know everybody is looking forward to getting the National done,” he said.
“I’ve been extremely lucky to have worked alongside Clare Balding on several occasions in Grand National coverages of years gone by. You can learn so much by working with someone like her.
“She is brilliant at what she does and is a consummate professional and I think we are lucky to have her working on our team.”