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Tuesday 21 January 2020

Grand National: Punters gear up for a Grand day out

feathered friends at Ladies' Day on the second day of the Grand National meeting at Aintree, Liverpool, yesterday
feathered friends at Ladies' Day on the second day of the Grand National meeting at Aintree, Liverpool, yesterday
racegoers enjoy the day despite the rain

Louise Hogan

IT has been five years since a young Irish trainer landed the Aintree Grand National -- before having a winner on home soil.

Gordon Elliott became a household name overnight when the then 29-year-old landed jump racing's most coveted prize with 33-1 Silver Birch, who he had nursed back to fitness.

Now, Mr Elliott is a name punters look out for.

And later today he is sending out two horses among the 14 Irish challengers in the 40-strong field for John Smith's Aintree Grand National.


"I probably didn't appreciate the enormity of the win at the time -- if it happened now I'd get a lot more satisfaction out of it," the Co Meath-based trainer said.

Racing in the afternoon are Chicago Grey, his more fancied shot for Galway man John Earls, and Tharawaat, for Ryanair's Michael O'Leary, from his Co Meath stables.

Nicola McGeady, from Boylesports bookmakers, said punters were latching on to the two female jockeys -- Katie Walsh and Nina Carberry -- who are both vying to be the first female rider to win the race.

"There has been a lot of money on Seabass and Organisedconfusion, people are loving the fact there are two lady jockeys in the race," she said.

"There has also been a bit of money going on Shakalakaboomboom at 20/1 for Nicky Henderson who has had a great season with Barry Geraghty aboard.

"There hasn't been a lot of money on Chicago Grey, while people in the Grand National love the big price so they haven't been going for Synchronised."

Odds on Seabass -- trained by Katie's father Ted Walsh -- have shortened to 16/1, while odds on her sister-in-law Ms Carberry's mount Organisedconfusion are at 18/1.

"It would be an absolute dream come true to win a national. It is a dream come true to ride in a national. I'm not even thinking about winning it," Katie said.

"You have to go out there and do the best you can and ride it as if it is any other race."

Yesterday, the fashion stakes were upped despite the rain at Aintree as plenty of eyes were on Coleen Rooney who enjoyed Ladies Day at the track after backing 50/1 shot Dublin-trained Follow The Plan on the first day.

Earlier, meanwhile, jockey AP McCoy led jockeys on their annual visit to Alder Hey Children's Hospital near the track to meet patients.

The 16-time champion is preparing to ride the heavily fancied Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised for Limerick owner JP McManus.

It is estimated €410m will be bet on the Grand National throughout the UK and Ireland.

Irish Independent

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