Dreaper embracing Pere's hefty National challenge
WHILE Mouse Morris was unhappy with the rating given to War Of Attrition for the Aintree Grand National, the reaction of Irish trainers to yesterday's weights announcement was generally positive.
Albertas Run, Madison Du Berlais and Jim Dreaper's Notre Pere share top weight for the April 10 showpiece and bring to the party a blend of class and staying power.
Handicapper Phil Smith maintained top weight at 11st 10lb and in keeping with his traditional approach, he has applied the 'Aintree factor,' which recognises those who have proven themselves over the National fences.
Mon Mome, last year's 100/1 winner, has felt Smith's heavy hand, having been allotted 11st 7lb -- a rise of 7lb, both in official rating and weight.
Gold Cup entry Taranis is the highest weighted of Paul Nicholls' entry on 11-9. The British champion trainer's Tricky Trickster, winner of the Aon Chase at Newbury, has been installed ante-post favourite after being allocated 11-4.
Dessie Hughes' Black Apalachi, which was going so well when he and Denis O'Regan parted company at Becher's Brook second time round last year, has received 11st 6lb.
As for Notre Pere being handed 11-10, trainer Dreaper had no issue with the welter burden.
"It doesn't matter what we think about it; that's the weight they are going to carry. We'll put up with it," said Dreaper
"The National is one of the options. He was disappointing the last day (in the Irish Hennessy) but the run of the race didn't go for him. If it's heavy ground he might still line up in the Gold Cup; if it's good ground he won't.
"As far as the National is concerned the ground doesn't matter as much; running four and a half miles on heavy ground isn't fair on any horse.
"I would hope he'd take to the National fences but you never know until you try. He may go to Fairyhouse (for the Bobbyjo Chase) on Saturday." Tom Taaffe -- who has four possibilities in Cane Brake (10-8), Glenfinn Captain (10-4), Treacle (10-0), and Kings Advocate (10-0) -- was satisfied with his lot.
"Cane Brake has been trained for the race and we'll continue to look that way for him," explained the Co Kildare trainer. "I'd quite like Treacle to get into the race as well but I'm not sure if he will off 10st, we'll just have to see. I guess if he doesn't we'll have a look at the Irish National.
"Kings Advocate would be a possible if he gets in and I can't rule it in or out for Glenfinn Captain as we were disappointed with his run at Gowran the other day and we're still trying to get to the bottom of that."
Jimmy Mangan, responsible for Conna Castle (10-9) and Whinstone Boy (10-4), had no complaints.
"Conna Castle beat Big Zeb in the Power Gold Cup and he's been high in the weights ever since," said the Co Cork trainer. "He'll be having a run at Thurles next week and I'd be looking for a big run to prove that he deserves to take his chance in the National.
"Whinstone Boy should get in off that weight. He loves heavy going so I'd be looking for the ground to be like when Red Marauder won. You won't see him in the near future but he might have one more run, possibly over hurdles."
Tipperary trainer Charlie Swan -- triple-handed with One Cool Cookie (11-1), Oodachee (10-4), Offshore Account (10-1) -- had mixed emotions after seeing the weights.
"One Cool Cookie is only rated 140. How the handicapper has come to his conclusion I don't know," the former Irish champion jockey stated.
"Oodachee is probably badly handicapped but he might get in. Offshore Account is nicely in and ran a good race in the National last year."
Grand National latest odds -- 10/1 Tricky Trickster; 16/1 Niche Market; 20/1 Black Apalachi, Big Fella Thanks, Possol, Vic Venturi; 25/1 State Of Play, Comply Or Die, Character Building, Mon Mome, Backstage, Dream Alliance; 33/1 bar