Young Kenny, who is best on soft ground, will run in the Grand National on Saturday even "if the ground is good". Peter Beaumont, his trainer, was delighted with both his Grand National hopes when Young Kenny and Niki Dee worked at Malton yesterday morning. Beaumont said: "We will run Young Kenny if the ground is good, I wouldn't in a normal race, but the National is not a normal race. It does not help those concerned about the ground that the declarations have to be made on Thursday, but I hope we should get goodish ground at least."
Young Kenny was partnered by Brendan Powell, while Robbie Supple rode Niki Dee. Beaumont added: "They did a nice piece of work and that will have put them just right. I just wish the race was tomorrow while I know both horses are sound and well."
Chris Maude has picked up the ride on Suny Bay, twicerunner-up the National. He takes the mount after Carl Llewellyn opted to partner Senor El Betrutti instead. The jockey is hoping to improve his own fine record over the Aintree fences, having won the John Hughes Chase and the Becher Chase twice, as well as finishing fifth in the National itself on Young Hustler in 1996.
Suny Bay is 33-1 for the National with Coral, having been pulled up in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury and unplaced in a hurdle race at Doncaster on his only two starts this term.
Ginger McCain, who sent out the great Red Rum to win three Nationals (1973-4 & 1977), has resigned himself to watching Saturday's race without a vested interest. McCain's son Donald explained: "We would like to run Back Bar again next week, but he is last of the 64 left in at the last forfeit stage so it does not look like he will get in. He has run in two Nationals, two Becher Chases and a John Hughes and his owner wants to go for the record of getting around Aintree most times. He would run in the John Hughes if it looks certain he won't get a run in the National."
William Hill yesterday forecast that Government and racing will be losers on National day. The bookmakers claim the failure to cut betting duty in the Budget will force more of the £100m expected to be staked on the race worldwide to be bet overseas.
The trainer Malcolm Jefferson is to aim Dato Star at the Aintree Hurdle on Saturday. Dato Star finished sixth behind Istabraq in the Champion Hurdle last time. Jefferson said: "He ran a cracking race in the Champion, he was only beaten about 10 lengths on ground far too fast for him. He came out of the race very well and he is in very good form - we're looking forward to Aintree and I just hope he gets the right ground this time."
See More Business, beaten favourite when attempting a repeat victory in last month's Cheltenham Gold Cup, heads nine entries for the Martell Cup Chase at Aintree on Thursday. The Paul Nicholls-trained 10-year-old finished a six-length fourth behind Looks Like Trouble in the Gold Cup and could renew rivalry with Strong Promise and Lake Kariba, third and fifth respectively at Cheltenham, in the contest.
Stormyfairweather, who repeated his 1999 success in the Cathcart Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, is one of two entries from Nicky Henderson's yard, the other being the mare Makounji. The first-named could run here in preparation for a tilt at the Whitbread Gold Cup at Sandown later in April.
Macgeorge, winner of last season's Martell Cup, could go for a repeat in the three-mile-one-furlong contest. Alan King has entered Mulligan. Majadou is Martin Pipe's sole representative. Charlie Morlock's mare Native Charmtakes a step up in grade and trip after finishing second to National hope Dark Stranger in the Mildmay Of Flete Chase at Cheltenham.
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