Gold Cup tilt preceded Aintree return for Corach Rambler

Last Updated 15 Jan 2024 | By Enda McElhinney | Commercial content | 18+ | Play Responsibly | T&C Apply | Wagering

15.04.2023, Aintree, Liverpool, GBR – Horses and jockeys during the Grand National. Winner Corach Rambler with Derek Fox up with saddle cloth 26. Aintree racecourse.

Reigning champion Corach Rambler will bid for back-to-back Aintree Grand Nationals this spring trainer Lucinda Russell has confirmed, but only after an ambitious tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup first.

Russell feels her stable star would have too much weight to carry in the Ultima at Cheltenham, the race he won prior to success in the National in 2023, so the Gold Cup represents a better route back to Merseyside.

Back in the groove

Corach Rambler is set to follow a similar path to last season, albeit with a much more daunting Cotswolds test this time around.

He was held in pre-Christmas runs at Carlisle and Newbury in 2022, finishing fourth in the Coral Gold Cup, before going on to win the Ultima at Cheltenham after a layoff and the National the following month.

His Kelso comeback in the Edinburgh Gin Chase in October saw him looking rusty after 196 days off, but he has since run a fair third in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock in November.

All roads now lead back to Gloucestershire for the Scottish-trained star, with the Gold Cup his intended target.

Russell told William Hill: “Corach Rambler is in flying form and seems very well in himself. He’ll go straight to the Gold Cup and we’ll look to get a racecourse gallop into him before that like we did last year.

“Everyone knows how much I love him and it would be very special if he could be competitive in another Grand National.”

Encouraged by the memories of ’23

Russell admits her festive season was indulged with some re-watching of Corach Rambler’s exploits from last spring, as he won at the Cheltenham Festival and then emulated her 2017 scorer One For Arthur in landing the Aintree showpiece.

The trainer takes encouragement from reviewing that race, and the manner in which the now ten-year-old took to the challenge of the world-famous Grand National.

“Over Christmas we watched back the race last year and it was amazing how much he loved it and how well he jumped. That is the main target and, while I don’t like to call the Gold Cup a prep, that’s sort of what we’re treating it as,” she added.

Sentina (1957 & 1958), Scot Land (1982 & 1983), Un Temps Pour Tout (2016 & 2017) and Corach Rambler (2022 & 2023) are the unique foursome that have managed multiple wins in Cheltenham’s Ultima, but Russell feels a welterweight burden isn’t ideal for what would be a unique hat-trick tilt.

“He’ll have to carry so much weight in the Ultima and we just feel the Gold Cup will be a better race for him. It would be amazing if he could run well in that which would set him up perfectly for Aintree,” she added.

Corach Rambler is around 14/1 favourite in the betting to retain his Aintree crown come Saturday April 13th and, in doing so, give Russell her third success in the most famous steeplechase in the world.

If he can do it, she will be just one win behind record-holding legends George Dockeray, Fred Rimell and Ginger McCain, each with four Grand National wins on their records.

Enda McElhinney

Enda McElhinney is a racing writer with a growing portfolio of work on both British and Irish racing, with a particular fondness for National Hunt racing. While he acknowledges there have been many great runners; there has only ever been one Denman.

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