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Katie on a winner

THE Aintree Grand National is the one race that, more than any, if you back the winner you take great pride in it.

You have a field of 40 to choose from, and have to hope |that whichever horse you pick can negotiate 30 of the world’s most daunting fences and get home over the gruelling four-and-a-half miles. As well as all that, you've to hope that one of the inevitable loose horses doesn't come to do your horse damage if you are still going well late on.

The last point will live strong in the memory of Clan Royal backers from a few years ago, but most punters will have a hard luck story about a horse they backed in the National, and if you can find someone who had backed Devon Loch |in the\[Shane Hegarty\] 1958 1956 renewal, prepare yourself for a long tale of woe.

This year’s race is just as intriguing as any other and you'll struggle to find a Grand National at Aintree that doesn't have a potentially remarkable story in the making, or a National that doesn't provide us with an incredible tale.

Last year it was Donald McCain, son of the legendary Ginger, who won it in front of his father with Ballabriggs, and tomorrow he will try and emulate his father in getting Ballabriggs back to win back-to-back renewals of the race, something that no horse has done since Ginger\[Shane Hegarty\] McCain got Red Rum to win the race for a second consecutive year in 1974.

This year’s edition is headed at the weights and the betting by Jonjo O'Neill's recent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Synchronised, who himself goes in search of a massive piece of history.

Not since Golden Miller in 1934 has a horse won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Aintree Grand National in the same season, but of the few that have attempted it, Synchronised seems to be the horse who people feel can do it as he may go off as short as 5/1\[Shane Hegarty\] for the big one tomorrow afternoon.

Mon Mome joins Ballabriggs in the quest of previous winners as connections have become bullish regarding the chances of the 2009 100/1 winner.

Of the 40 runners, 15 of them are Irish-trained, with Ireland's current leading rider, Davy Russell, riding the Shark Hanlon-trained Alfa Beat, while Ruby Walsh has opted for On His Own for Willie Mullins.

Two of the Irish raiders |will be ridden by lady jockeys; Nina Carberry renewing her partnership with 2011 Irish Grand National winner Organisedconfusion, and the Evening Herald's Katie Walsh on Seabass for her father, Ted.

It is Seabass that gets the vote of confidence from this corner, and that genuinely has got nothing to do with the rider's connection to this newspaper.

Seabass is on an incredible winning streak of seven wins in a row at the moment, five of which have come this season, and it was the manner of his last two wins that really caught the eye.

At Leopardstown under Katie, the nine-year-old had every chance of an early exit when the loose running Organisedconfusion ran out and threatened to carry him with him.

But he showed an ignorance to that course of events that could prove a vital component to winning a Grand National, with the carnage that could very well develop around him tomorrow\[Shane Hegarty\] afternoon.

After that scare Seabass, who made all the running, powered home to win by seven-and-a-half lengths from Out Now in second, and\[Shane Hegarty\] Out Now the latter has done the form no harm whatsoever with his narrow defeat in the Irish Grand National\[Daniel Webber\] earlier this week.

At Naas on his final start before Aintree, Seabass defeated Zaarito over two miles in a |race that Ted Walsh won with Papillon before he won the famous Aintree race, and here is hoping that that may be a good omen for what's in store tomorrow.


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