Athlete goes straight to Aintree

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The Independent Online
Royal Athlete, the 40-1 winner of last year's Grand National winner, may try for a repeat victory without the benefit of a race this season. The 13-year-old has not run since pulling up in the Scottish Grand National last April.

His trainer, Jenny Pitman, is delighted with the progress of Royal Athlete but is running out of time to find a suitable contest before Aintree. "Everything's coming along fine with him but the way things are turning out it's looking like he will be going straight for the Grand National," Mrs Pitman's son and assistant Mark said yesterday.

The stable's Nahthen Lad, firmly put in his place by Mr Mulligan in Wednesday's Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot, will nevertheless tackle the Sun Alliance Chase at Cheltenham next month. "He was well beaten but Warren [Marston] felt he would be better going left-handed so he will be going to Cheltenham now," Pitman added.

Newcastle's Eider Chase meeting tomorrow was given the go ahead yesterday. Part of the track was found to be unfit during an afternoon inspection, but boggy patches on the hurdle track are to be avoided by transferred two obstacles to the Flat course.

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