Corach Rambler camp ramping up for Aintree defence
Corach Rambler featured amongst the 94 entries for the Randox Grand National at Aintree and connections of the reigning champion are anticipating a strong defence in April.
There were a record 61 entries from Ireland in the field for the £1 million showpiece but it will be Scotland’s Corach Rambler that ranks as the one they all have to beat.
He won the race in smooth style last April to give trainer Lucinda Russell her second success in six years and confidence is growing Corach Rambler is returning to the form he showed last spring.
Spring is his time
Now ten-years-old, Corach Rambler has tended to come to himself in the spring and has won the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in the last two seasons.
Russell’s partner Peter Scudamore, who rides Corach Rambler on the gallops at home, says the signs are positive but acknowledges the Aintree spectacular comes with no guarantees.
“You can only be hopeful as it’s the Grand National but you can tell he’s coming alive now,” he told the Racing Post.
“When he comes off the gallops he prances in and he’s really well in himself. He did a great piece of work on Saturday, I rode him and he’s really coming to himself. But we’ll have to see what weight he gets, it’s a handicap and last year by luck and a bit of planning he was 10lb well in.”
Haydock showed the fire still burns
The weights for the National will be confirmed by mid-February and it is sure to be a tougher challenge this year for the defending champion.
Scudamore felt his Betfair Chase third behind Royale Pagaille in November on his second start back was proof that Corach Rambler isn’t going away.
This year, his final stopping point en route to Aintree is going to be no less than the Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 15th.
“His Haydock run told me he wasn’t one of those horses who win the National and that’s it,” added Scudamore. “That was encouraging and he was only 3lb below his best Racing Post rating.
“He’s not had that many runs, he’s not had a hard time so we hope he can continue to perform to a high level. He’ll have a run in the Gold Cup and if he performs to a good level he’ll go back to Aintree.”
Career-best run bodes well for repeat
Scudamore also pointed to the plethora of positives that came in last year’s win.
Corach Rambler was always handy, despite a racing style that suggested he’d be held up further back, and took it up two from home before holding off Vanillier and Gaillard Du Mesnil on the long run to home, with the 2022 winner Noble Yeats staying on for fourth after meeting some trouble.
The manner of that success gives rise to the idea that Aintree and the unique National test are going to once more bring out the best in Corach Rambler.
“The National has changed over the years but some horses still come to life around there,” said Scudamore.
“People said last year he’d get too far behind but he didn’t, if anything he hit the front too soon and he clearly put up his best performance ever there. He took to it well, although you never know if they’ll take to it as well again.”