Corach Rambler heads untypically low UK entry in Grand National

Last Updated 29 Mar 2023 | By Enda McElhinney | Commercial content | 18+ | Play Responsibly | T&C Apply | Wagering

Image via @AtTheRaces on Twitter

Just 31 of the remaining 85 Grand National contenders for Aintree this spring are trained in Britain, with Cheltenham Festival winner Corach Rambler on course to lead the home side.

The British-trained initial entry of 31 compares with 54 in 2022 and 62 in 2021.

That reduced number in part can be attributed to just one entry in the colours of the late Trevor Hemmings – the Venetia Williams-trained Cloudy Glen – while just one of the seven JP McManus-owned entries is trained in Britain.

The McManus situation has a knock-on effect that means trainer Jonjo O’Neill will be without a runner for only the second time since 2003 – with the Jackdaws Castle handler having saddled the McManus-owned Don’t Push It for a famous 2010 win in the hands of legendary rider AP McCoy.

Russell team hopeful Rambler can have a say

The winner of last year’s Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Corach Rambler will likely complete his Aintree prep with a trip to the Cotswolds again in March.

The Lucinda Russell-trained nine-year-old has entries in both the Denman Chase at Newbury this Saturday and Haydock’s Grand National Trial a week later before a possible Cheltenham return.

Russell’s partner and assistant Peter Scudamore said they are likely going to favour waiting for the National weights to be announced on February 21st.

“We’ve dithered over it but I think he has a fair mark of 146 and I don’t want it to go up or down,” said Scudamore. “Lucinda and Derek [Fox, stable jockey] think the Haydock race is quite hard on them close to the National and the ground looks to be fast at Newbury so I think he’ll go to Cheltenham for the Ultima,” he said.

“He’s 6lb higher than last year and then from there he’d go to Aintree. You don’t win a National without thinking about it and when we won [in 2017] with One For Arthur, we had to get him up in the weights. Once we’d done that we left him. Corach Rambler has a realistic mark and we don’t want to mess it about really.

Irish domination at Aintree

Grand National success in recent times has been dominated by the Irish, with five of the last six Aintree winners training on the Emerald Isle – a sequence only interrupted by Russell’s One For Arthur in 2017.

More than half the 40-runner field in 2022 were Irish-trained, with an Irish one-two-three led home by Noble Yeats for Emmet Mullins a year after Rachael Blackmore’s win on Minella Times spearheaded an unprecedented first five finishers trained in Ireland.

Five of the first six home from last year could return to Aintree, with Any Second Now, Delta Work, Fiddlerontheroof and Longhouse Poet all featuring alongside Noble Yeats at the entry stage.

On the subject of Irish domination, Scudamore suggested everything in sport is cyclical and insisted that trainers in the UK should be eager to challenge the current domination from the across the Irish Sea.

“The reason I want to go to Aintree, is that I want to take on the best,” said Scudamore. “Willie Mullins is the best at the moment but it’s hard for me to criticise him because I was with Martin Pipe and we dominated.

“The world evolves. When I first started it was hard to win because it was Fred Winter and Fred Rimell, then Yorkshire won everything, then it swung to Martin.”

Scudamore added: “I want to see the best against the best and at the moment the Irish have them and they deserve to be in the race.

“They’re better than us at the moment, we’ve got to pick [ourselves] up and do something about it.”

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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