Racing: Suny Bay heads the National assembly

Rough Quest, the 1996 Aintree hero, is back on track to attempt another victory in the race. Richard Edmondson reports.

In the salubrious setting of The Dorchester in Park Lane yesterday, weights were allotted to the enormous number of entries for the Grand National. The great congregation of spectators for the race itself on 4 April, however, will be gaining access to a somewhat scruffier Aintree.

Racegoers will pass through an airport-style archway and subject themselves to body-searches (all promising ante-post vouchers will probably be confiscated). The expected 6,000 cars that trundle to the course will have to be pre- booked and all will also be subjected to scanning with machinery that the police tell us hi-tech (apparently it's better than that old stuff they used to use).

The topweight this year is likely to be Suny Bay, if the Hennessy Gold Cup winner recovers from the malaise currently ailing him and his confederates at Uplands. The grey has pulled a muscle in his hind quarters, but is expected to start cantering next week.

His options include the Greenalls Gold Cup at Haydock (which he won 12 months ago), the Gold Cup and the National. "We'd be very unlucky if things were bad enough that we could not run in two of those those three races," Brooks said.

If last year's runner-up does manage to incorporate Newton-le-Willows into his programme he may meet Belmont King, Paul Nicholls's Scottish Grand National winner. It is something of a shame that the Somerset trainer has not entered another of his equine staff, Ottowa, who would have been a great selection for your Canadian on the day, but the trainer nevertheless has four entries.

Nicholls is a man worth considering as the National encapsulates his sole interest among animals in training. He has prepared more steeplechase winners than anyone this campaign.

"Belmont King is our main hope," Nicholls said. "He has been trained solely for the race and will run in the Greenalls and then the National. He was in the process of running his best for race for us when he fell in the Hennessy. You can ignore his run in the Welsh National as he came back coughing.''

Nicholls, it appears, will also provide the Tricast combinations. "I was very pleased with Court Melody's run at Sandown on Saturday. He was second over the National fences in the Becher Chase earlier in the season. General Crack could go well if the ground was fast.''

Of Rough Quest, one of the favourites, trainer Terry Casey said: "He'll go straight to the Gold Cup first and though that might be a bit beyond him at his age now, he will run a lot better than he's been running. He's at his best in the Spring.

"I rode him on Sunday morning and he felt super. Before I left him today he looked fantastic, in fact he's never looked better."

Gordon Richards has nine horses in the contest yet could not bring himself to savour the warm smoked-haddock and asparagus tart yesterday at the sumptuous weights lunch. Cup-a-soup serves a better purpose in the frozen north.

The Boss has yet to tell us what the Greystoke squad will be. "It's very difficult to say at this stage with Cheltenham still to come," Richards said. "I want to get Addington Boy, and The Grey Monk, to the Gold Cup.

"But if a week beforehand I thought The Grey Monk wasn't quite right and if he had cut in the ground in the National he could be the one. He's had a very light time and he would relish the trip. A lot depends on the ground. "McGregor The Third might take his chance if the ground was fast. Buckboard Bounce was fourth last year and he could be the one but he disappointed me last time out.''

Nigel Twiston-Davies was pleased by Young Hustler's light weight, though the old horse is hardly living up to his name these days. He is in a more fighting mood about his other runner, Earth Summit. "They've both got fair weights," he said. "Young Hustler is usually among the topweights. Earth Summit is in good nick and will run in the Greenalls before going for the National.''

Martin Pipe described Cyborgo and Challenger Du Luc as his "two serious ones" among nine entries from his stable, but both head to the Gold Cup first. "It could be just Challenger's sort of race," Pipe said.

Oliver Sherwood said: "Him Of Praise has had only nine runs under Rules and is very inexperienced. But he might never have a weight like that again."

Suggested Topics
Sport
The Aviva Premiership trophy
rugby unionLive: All the latest from Twickenham for the Premiership final against Bath
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood
footballDanny Higginbotham: Tim Sherwood must play game of two halves to cause major upset
News
Caber is trained to help child victims of serious crimes testify
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor