Racing UK

Grand National reaction: Trainers give latest running plans

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Here are the views and comments of various trainers after the weights for the Grand National were revealed on Tuesday night.

Gordon Elliott - Outlander (11st 12lb, Empire Of Dirt 11-8, Don Poli 11-7, video below winning 2015 RSA

"It's nice to have a few runners in the race and we will see what happens. I'm probably a little bit disappointed that a few of the top weights are carrying 2lb more in England than they would in Ireland.

""Outlander won't be running. Empire Of Dirt will run in the Gold Cup and we will see what happens after that.

"Don Poli definitely runs. He is in good nick at the moment and he's got solid Grade One form.

"We are planning to run him in the Gold Cup, then the Grand National."

Trainer Kim Bailey - The Last Samuri (11st 5lb)

"I can do nothing about it and Phil (Smith, handicapper) has made his opinion on what I've got. The downside is we might end up with top-weight.

"I spoke to Phil last week and asked if there was any chance of 10 stone - he told me to take a running jump!

"We will settle for 11st 5lb and I'm happy with that. If he is good enough to win off that weight it would be fantastic. He is only a small horse so it won't be easy for him.

"He has been there twice and done very well. Let's hope it is the same third time round.

"We genuinely believed at the start of the season he was stronger, but he couldn't cope with the upgrade to Grade One level, so we had to go back to handicaps.

"We run in the Grimthorpe at Doncaster in two weeks' time which will be tough for him.

"If he was a Grade One horse he would carry the weight, but it will be a struggle. He loves the course and that is undoubtedly an advantage."

Jockey Katie Walsh - Foxrock (10st 12lb)

"I wouldn't say I was confident, but he has a lovely weight.

"He's made the transition to hunter chasing this year and it seems to have suited him. He won up in Down Royal, won in Thurles and then won in Leopardstown.

"I thought he was workmanlike the other day. He beat On The Fringe, who is probably going be favourite for the Foxhunter's in Cheltenham.

"He (Foxrock) doesn't qualify for Cheltenham, but will run in the Tetratema in Gowran.

"He'll also have an entry in the Irish National and we'll see what happens."

Trainer Brian Ellison - Definitly Red (10st 7lb)

"Definitly Red looks to have a good racing weight, doesn't he? I am happy with that.

"The horse is fine after unseating at Haydock. I think he probably would have been second had he stayed up. It was just one of those things.

"He is in great form at the moment and is likely to go to Kelso (Premier Case) or Doncaster (Grimthorpe Chase) in a couple of weeks.

"After that, we will give him a school over some Grand National fences and, if he takes to it, he will probably head to Aintree."

Trainer Gavin Cromwell - Raz De Maree (10st 4lb)

"I would be happy with the 10st 4lb allotted to Raz De Maree. That's a nice racing weight and hopefully he should get into the race.

"The horse is in grand form and the plan at the moment is for him to run next in the Eider Chase at Newcastle before going on to Aintree.

"He stayed on well when he ran in the race before (finished eighth in 2014).

"A little bit of juice in the ground would suit him as he just lacks a gear but has plenty of stamina."

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies - Blaklion (10st 10lb)

"He is a very interesting contender and we will learn a lot more on Saturday in the Grand National Trial at Haydock.

"We've delayed running him for ages so his weight doesn't go up. I think he is very fairly weighted.

"We've always thought he is perfect for it. He stays forever and he jumps beautifully.

"He is very different to our two previous winners (Earth Summit and Bindaree), bu t he is small, nimble and a really good jumper.

"Red Rum wasn't big and this lad is clever over his fences."

Trainer Fergal O'Brien - Perfect Candidate (11st), Viva Steve (9st 11lb), Alvarado (9st 5lb)

"Perfect Candidate is probably the only one that will get in. I think the handicapper was a bit harsh with him the other day, putting him up 6lb if I have my figures right.

"Paddy (Brennan) and I agree if he takes to Aintree he will have a great chance. He is a good jumper and he has great scope in him. Him and Alvarado are two totally different horses. They are like chalk and cheese.

"It was our plan last year and we missed out by one or two. It's always been my plan and the owners have been on side, but I've had to convince them a little bit.

"We will go there and take our chance. If we don't do it now we will always look back and wonder 'what if'."

David Pipe - Vieux Lion Rouge (10st 7lb, video below winning Becher)

"Vieux Lion Rouge finished seventh in the race last year and won the Becher Chase and all roads lead to Aintree.

"He jumps the National fences better than the park fences. He is in the National Trial at Haydock this weekend and we will make a decision later this week whether he runs or not. We are looking at one run before the National.

"I don't think he quite stayed last year. He was only seven and is now eight. He has not always been the strongest finisher of his races, but he is a lot stronger this year and he really ground it out in the Becher, so we hope he can do the same in the National."

Lucinda Russell - One For Arthur (10st 6lb)

"At the start of the season we decided he was only going to have four races and this is the fourth one coming up. We've kept him since he won at Warwick specifically for the National and we only have five to come out.

"Both in the Becher Chase and at Warwick he was nearly brought down and had his nose on the ground, so we are looking for a third bit of luck.

"It's very important for us, we've got a decent horse to do it with and I'm delighted for Scotland.

"It's a great honour to have a runner in the race."

Rebecca Curtis - Shantou Flyer (11st) and O'Faolains Boy (10st 6lb, video below winning 2014 RSA)

"O'Faolains Boy has a very nice weight. I hope he gets in as he is back to as good as we have ever had him. He was unlucky not to get there last year.

"With Shantou Flyer I think the handicapper is a bit wise, as he knows with the step up in trip there is more to come. I think this year it is so competitive - just to get in is nice.

"If we can get O'Faolains Boy there in one piece he would have a right chance, but he is very fragile. Last year he was perfect but literally the day before we had a bit of a disaster.

"He runs on Saturday at Ascot. I want to get two runs in beforehand. I'm not too worried about his prep runs, I just want to get him to the National.

"Shantou Flyer will probably run at Ascot on Saturday as well. We are sticking him in a Grade One over the wrong trip and he is crying out for three miles plus, but if we look at the ratings of that race there is only a few pounds between them all."

Paul Nicholls - Le Mercurey (10st 9lb) and Vicente (10st 5lb)

"I've spoken to the owners of Le Mercurey and they are quite keen to run in the National.

"Phil hasn't put him up at all for running at Newbury on Saturday. If he runs in the Betway Bowl and some of those races, he could be 160, but off 151 we are really considering let him take his chance. It's not set in stone at the moment, though.

"There is only one Grand National and this year might be a very good chance for him.

"Vicente should get in. He is a Scottish National winner and that's a big plus and he is good in the spring.

"He just hasn't got the class probably of Le Mercurey, but he is a good staying handicapper

"He will be at the right end of the weights, so that is ideal."

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