Grand National latest: Waley-Cohens in for the Long haul

Owner Robert Waley-Cohen and his jockey-son, Sam, have enjoyed unprecedented success over the Aintree fences but it could all pale into insignificance if Long Run wins the first £1m (€1.2m) renewal of the Crabbie’s Grand National.

Grand National latest: Waley-Cohens in for the Long haul

Owner Robert Waley-Cohen and his jockey-son, Sam, have enjoyed unprecedented success over the Aintree fences but it could all pale into insignificance if Long Run wins the first £1m (€1.2m) renewal of the Crabbie’s Grand National.

Katarino twice claimed the Fox Hunters’, Liberthine landed the Topham Chase and was fifth in the National, while Oscar Time also came very close when second in the main event.

As recently as yesterday, Warne led from pillar-to-post to give the Waley-Cohens another success in the Fox Hunters’.

Long Run is searching for his own piece of history as no horse as ever won the King George at Kempton, the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the biggest race of them all in Liverpool.

While the Nicky Henderson-trained nine-year-old may not be the force of old, there is no doubt he has been given a chance by the handicapper.

“There are always nerves ahead of the National, ahead of all the big races, and I think if there aren’t you are in the wrong sport,” said Robert Waley-Cohen.

“Myself and Sam have enjoyed plenty of luck over the fences in the past, but I still get a tingle ahead of the National as it’s a great race.

“Clearly he has deteriorated since his days of beating Kauto Star and Denman in the Gold Cup, but he has been handicapped accordingly.

“All you can wish for is a clear run and then take it from there.”

Sam Waley-Cohen, who remains an amateur rider, said: “We schooled him over the National-type fences last week and he jumped really well. He’s in great form.”

Tony McCoy faced a choice between the Ted Walsh-trained Colbert Station, who unseated him at The Chair last year, and Double Seven, winner of the Munster National and trained by Martin Brassil, who saddled Numbersixvalverde to glory in 2006.

The jockey finally went for Double Seven, with Brassil hoping for no more rain.

“Everything seems to have gone well with him and we’re happy to be here,” said the Co Kildare handler.

“I just hope they don’t get too much rain. The ground is very important to him and if it went heavy there’d be no point in even running him. Hopefully it’s no worse than good to soft.

“I’m not sure I’d given his jockey a whole lot of thought, I left all that up to the best judge in the business.

“Tony has ridden him before so it’s not as if he is going in blind.

“The form of his Munster National win was done no harm when Spring Heeled won the Kim Muir, so that was nice to see.”

Walsh said of Colbert Station: “Last year he didn’t run a good race in it.

“He was never really travelling and he jumped a bit erratic, this year hopefully he’ll take to it a bit better.”

Teaforthree gave connections a huge thrill when third 12 months ago and is another who appears to have been leniently treated.

The 10-year-old ran a perfectly respectable race in the Gold Cup and trainer Rebecca Curtis thinks he heads to Aintree in even better shape than last year.

“He took to the Grand National fences last year,” said the Newport handler.

“Teaforthree likes the ground on the softer side of good. Everybody thinks he needs heavy ground, but he doesn’t.

“I thought he ran a blinder in the Gold Cup, it was the ideal prep run. We didn’t want to go seven weeks after his run at Ascot and I think it put him spot-on.

“He looks really tight without being over-drilled.

“I’d have to say I think he’s in better form than last year. He ran a great race at Ascot, it usually takes him two or three runs to hit peak form.

“It’s one of those races where you need lots and lots of luck, so we just hope for that.”

Monbeg Dude would be a hugely popular winner for Herefordshire trainer Michael Scudamore.

He is part-owned by former England rugby union international Mike Tindall, husband of the Queen’s granddaughter and top-class show jumper Zara Phillips, who has helped with the schooling of the notoriously dicey jumper.

Paul Carberry was on board when the nine-year-old won the Welsh National last season and aims for a second Aintree success after Bobbyjo struck in 1999.

Carberry said: “I’ve no worries about his jumping, although I hope we can get into a rhythm because he can make a mistake.

“I’ve schooled him over Aintree fences and he respected them, so I hope he respects them on the day. I’ll get a great ride if he does.

“It doesn’t feel like 15 years (since he won the big race on Bobbyjo) – it feels like yesterday.

“Hopefully he gets a clear run and then we can hope for the best. If he gets into a rhythm then he has a chance.”

Tidal Bay, now a 13-year-old, is one of the most popular horses in training and has been given a sporting chance by the handicapper – even though he must shoulder top weight.

“His form off top weight in his last three handicaps has been very good,” said trainer Paul Nicholls.

“He is in good shape. I am looking forward to him running. The thing to do is to drop him out and not to rush him.

“It doesn’t matter if he races in last and gradually picks up. He likes being ridden that way.”

Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies is thrilled to take up the challenge.

He said: “By no means is he a normal 13-year-old. His form his very strong.

“The way we go about riding him, hopefully he has a great chance.

“He’s obviously a very, very talented horse and I’m delighted to be riding him.”

Sue Smith became just the third female trainer to win the race last year when Auroras Encore obliged.

But with that horse now retired, the Bingley handler relies upon Mr Moonshine, in the same ownership as last season’s winner but pulled up 12 months ago, and Vintage Star.

Smith said: “They are both in very good order, we’ve schooled them over some National-type fences and taken more or less the same route as we did last year.

“Mr Moonshine has jumped twice round there and jumped exceptionally well. He ran a good race in the Becher and we hope he gets the trip this year as seems to be in very good form.

“Vintage Star has never jumped the fences, although he jumped very well (in schooling).

“He came down very early at Cheltenham so didn’t have a race and, all being well, he will take to the place as he gets an extreme trip well.

“I think he’d like a bit better ground than the Welsh National, which he should get, and hopefully he’ll get a bit of luck in running.”

There were no non-runners at today's 9am deadline, which means the four reserves - Goonyella, Soll, Night In Milan and Minella For Value - have been eliminated.

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