Weld gives Majestic go-ahead in bid to break National duck
Dermot Weld is to have his first Aintree Grand National runner for 16 years after confirming Majestic Concorde a definite starter in the John Smith's-sponsored showpiece on Saturday.
The Curragh handler went close with Greasepaint, runner-up in 1983 and 1984, but he has not had a National starter since Ebony Jane finished 12th in 1995. In the meantime, however, the master of Rosewell House has sent out winners all over the world -- from the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot to the Melbourne Cup at Flemington.
Weld gave Majestic Concorde the go-ahead for the four-and-a-half-mile spectacular following a pleasing schooling session in which he was partnered by his big-race jockey Robbie McNamara. "He's a definite runner and Robbie McNamara rides. He's very well," said Weld.
McNamara is looking forward to his first ride in the race when he will be up against his brother Andrew, who has been booked for James Motherway's Bluesea Cracker.
"He's a 100-plus rated horse on the Flat -- he won the GPT Galway Handicap and was fourth in the Chester Cup," said the classy amateur. "He won the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown off top weight, that was his last run.
"He's a horse that runs best fresh. I schooled him last week over two Grand National fences at the Curragh and he jumped super. He's a great attitude. He has plenty of class for it."
Adrian Maguire, who rode Weld's last National runner Ebony Jane and also went close with Moorcroft Boy, faces a tense wait to see if his Munster National winner Golden Kite makes the cut. "He's 43 at the moment, so we'll have to see. It's still realistic and certainly not out of the question," said Maguire.
Weld, meanwhile, has his fingers crossed that Famous Name will secure an elusive Group One win this season.
The Khalid Abdullah-owned six-year-old has won 10 of his 21 starts, but has so far been frustrated at the highest level -- finishing second in three Group Ones, including the French Derby in 2008.
Famous Name will start his season off in Sunday's Heritage Stakes at Leopardstown, a race he won last year. "He's a joy to train and such a good horse," said Weld. "He has been very rewarding for his owner. Hopefully, he can do it (win a Group One). That's the plan."
Aidan O'Brien's Derby hope Recital is also likely to be in action on the card in the PW McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes
O'Brien has dominated the contest down the years with the likes of Galileo, High Chaparral, Yeats and Fame And Glory all on the roll of honour.
Recital won a Group One in France on just his second start last season.
There are five other entries from Ballydoyle among the 13 with John Oxx's Adilapour and Weld's Rich Tapestry also engaged.