Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Don't Push It carries top weight in maximum National field

Thomas Kelly

Don't Push It, last year's winner, heads a maximum field of 40 runners for tomorrow's Aintree Grand National.

The 11-year-old, which gave multiple champion jockey Tony McCoy an emotional first victory in the world's most famous steeplechase 12 months ago, will be bidding to repeat the dose under top weight.

Ante-post favourite The Midnight Club will be striving to provide Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins with his second taste of National glory under Ruby Walsh, who will be seeking a third success.

British champion Paul Nicholls, yet to win the marathon contest, has a strong hand, headed by Gold Cup fourth What A Friend, part-owned by Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.

Oscar Time will be bidding to give owner Robert Waley-Cohen and jockey Sam Waley-Cohen a huge double following the Gold Cup triumph of Long Run, while Backstage, Silver By Nature, Donald McCain's Ballabriggs and Ferdy Murphy's Big Fella Thanks are other major contenders.

There were three withdrawals at the 48-hour declaration stage -- Northern Alliance, Our Monty and Roll Along -- and they will be replaced by Royal Rosa, Skippers Brig and Golden Kite.

Meanwhile, 12 horses have been entered in the Investec Derby at the second entry stage, all hoping to follow in the footsteps of last year's winner, Workforce. Michael Stoute's colt was the first horse to win the Classic having not been in the original entries.

Among those added at a cost of £8,000 for the June 4 contest are Godolphin's Casamento and Dubai Prince, the Henry Cecil-trained duo of Picture Editor and the unraced Midsummer Sun, Aidan O'Brien's Marksmanship and Ed Dunlop's Native Khan. Kevin Prendergast has supplemented Dunboyne Express after his easy comeback win at Leopardstown.

Irish Independent

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