Sunday 11 December 2016

Mullins quartet ready for Grand National assault

Published 08/04/2016 | 11:51

On His Own
On His Own

Willie Mullins fires four arrows at the Crabbie's Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

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Representing the all-conquering team are On His Own (Patrick Mullins), Sir Des Champs (Ruby Walsh), Boston Bob (Paul Townend) and Ballycasey (Katie Walsh).

The champion trainer said: "On His Own seems fine - he ran well enough at Cheltenham after not firing over the first mile there. I'm hoping he will be a lot more at home when he comes to Liverpool over this trip.

"Sir Des Champs is in good form. We skipped Cheltenham with the view to going to Liverpool. He has a lovely mark and if he can come back anywhere near his previous form, he should have a great chance.

"Ballycasey will like the ground at Liverpool and is in off a really nice weight."

Kim Bailey feels The Last Samuri has what it takes to bridge a 26-year gap by giving him a second taste of success in the marathon test.

It was back in 1990 that Bailey saddled Mr Frisk, who galloped round the National course in record time to win the greatest race of them all. That was Bailey's third attempt at the National and since then he has tried many times, but fourth with Docklands Express in 1992 is the closest he has been.

"I would say The Last Samuri is probably my best chance since Mr Frisk of winning it again. I'm very happy with him," said the Gloucestershire trainer.

"Newcastle was very much a learning curve. We went to Kempton knowing an awful lot more and knowing the track was going to be too tight for him, but we had to go there for the ground and he had to win that race to qualify for the National.

"The improvement from there until Doncaster was good and he was very impressive. The handicapper has been a huge fan of the horse for a long time and has almost overdone it, I think, as a 12lb rise is a huge amount.

"He jumps very well and he does stay. We'll hunt him round the first circuit and go from there. There is a lot of luck involved, but he is a very serious runner with a very good chance."

Jonjo O'Neill has two live contenders in Holywell and last year's fifth Shutthefrontdoor, who was the final National ride for Sir Anthony McCoy.

"Holywell is in great form and he ran a lovely race at Cheltenham," said the Jackdaws Castle handler.

"He is a little monkey, though, and you need to keep that in the back of your mind. This time of year, he seems to be better in himself, but I wouldn't back him until he has jumped the third fence - he will love it or hate it.

"He has come back from the Cheltenham race very well. We are looking forward to it.

"Shutthefrontdoor ran a blinder really last year to finish fifth and if I had a young jockey on him he might have run better, the one we had was getting a bit old!

"His disappointing run last time was explained by abscesses in both front feet, which was very strange, but he is fine now."

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