Willie is likely to bring a big team to Aintree
30 March 2016
The Racing UK jockey ambassador talks through his rides at next week's Crabbie's Grand National meeting at Aintree.
Crabbie's Grand National:
Willie Mullins has five runners entered in the Crabbie’s Grand National - Sir Des Champs, Ballycasey, Turban, Boston Bob and On His Own.
Any one of those five could win the Grand National on their best day, but they probably have their best years behind them.
Realistically Ballycasey and Boston Bob look the two for me.
I don’t know whether Bryan Cooper will ride Sir Des Champs, as he's owned by Gigginstown House Stud and we’ll see where Turban runs, while Patrick Mullins is likley to ride On His Own.
Ballycasey ran quite well to finish fifth in the Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate behind Empire Of Dirt at Cheltenham. He was travelling quite well last year before he was brought down in that fall at the Canal Turn with Balthazar King, but it is impossible to know whether he really liked it. Will he get four and half miles, too? I don’t know really. He is entered in the Topham Chase, but I would imagine he would run in the big one.
Boston Bob’s best runs have been on good ground. He won the 2014 Melling Chase and then followed up a few weeks later in the Punchestown Gold Cup. He beat On His Own in the Bobbyjo Chase in February. On his day he is a very good horse and has come down thee handicap. Will he brave enough for the Grand National fences, though? We will only find out when we get to Aintree but he seems in very good nick.
I would not be worried about the quick turnaround from Cheltenham for the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle.
She’s only had two races this season and she came out of her Champion Hurdle win well.
She’s only got a couple of bits to do between now and then and if those go well she’ll be coming over with Nichols Canyon.
She is fresh and well and is in good order.
By Monday or Tuesday we will have a much clearer picture about Willie Mullins’s team in general, but Vautour looks really well. That said, so does Djakadam, Don Poli , Un De Sceaux and Valseur Lido but until we start turning the screw on them properly we won’t know what the effects of Cheltenham were on them.
Willie intends to bring as many horses that are in good nick as he can and I imagine that will be a big team.
Some people were surprised that we ran Black Hercules in the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham but looking back at his runs at Navan and Warwick earlier in the season we felt he had the pace to run in the race. As he won it Willie was obviously right. He looks penciled in for the Manifesto Novices’ Chase.
Douvan looks a perfect candidate for the Maghull Novices’ Chase. He was very impressive in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham and the race is tailor made for him as he has loads of speed.
Footpad finished just over seven lengths off Ivanovich Gortbatov in third in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and I would be confident of closing the gap in the 4YO Anniversary Hurdle.
My intention was to follow Ivanovich Gorbatov but Footpad was very deliberate at the first hurdle at Cheltenham and I lost three to four lengths and was a lot further back than I wanted to be.
Whether I can get past Ivanovich Gorbatov is a different story, but I’m hopeful of getting close at the very least. Apple’s Jade, who was second, and Let’s Dance, who was fourth, will also go.