By Andrew Atkinson
Randox Health Aintree Grand National 7-2 favourite Cloth Cap has an outstanding chance of chalking up a quartet of National victories for owner Trevor Hemmings.
Jonjo O’Neill trained 9-year-old, whose odds were shortened from 20-1 in the weeks leading up to the National, is ‘thrown-in’ at the weights – carrying 10st 5lbs.
“We are going there with a live chance. We always felt Cloth Cap is a good jumper and stayed, two credentials for the National,” said O’Neill.
“If right on the day we have a glowing chance. He is a stronger horse this year,” added O’Neill.
Trevor Hemmings’s three National victories are Hedgehunter in 2005, Ballabriggs in 2011 and Many Clouds in 2015.
Isle Of Man, where Hemmings Ballaseyr Stud near Andreas is based, he said: “I will get a fourth, there is no doubt about that.
“I think Cloth Cap definitely has potential. And Deise Aba, trained by Philip Hobbs – the two which stand out. In my opinion they both have chances.”
Hemmings, who sold a plethora of his string of horses during the coronavirus pandemic, has 28 horses remaining in training: “We are in a pandemic and nobody could get to race meetings for a period of time.
“I felt that I was paying money out consistently and it seemed for no good reason. Any pleasure was being reduced radically.
“The pleasure of seeing your horses run, going to the races and meeting good friends.”
Speaking to Isle Of Man Today, he said: “It is sad for the industry, but you have to adjust according to your pocket. Cutting back is the right thing to do.”
Kimberlite Candy (10-1) trained by Tom Lacey also stands out, the 9-year-old under 10st 10lb.
Richie McLernon who rides Kimberlite Candy for Herefordshire based trainer Lacey, said: “We’re all systems go. I’ve had a sit on him and he felt great.
“I’m really looking forward to Aintree – Tom’s happy with him, so that’s grand.”
Kimberlite Candy finished runner-up in the last two runnings of the Becher Chase over the Grand National fences.
Noted support this week comes for Any Second Now (9-1) and Farclas (20-1). 9-year-old Any Second Now, trained by T. Walsh, carries 10st 9lbs.
Burrows Saint 10st 13lb (8-1) trained by Willie Mullins; Henry de Bromhead trained Minella Times 10st 3lbs (12-1) and Secret Reprieve 10st 1lbs, are also noted in the 40 runners field.
Outsiders worthy of an each-way punt include Anibale Fly (25-1), The Storyteller (20-1), Magic Of Light (20-1) and Yala Enki (33-1), under 11st 3lbs.
Female jockeys riding in the Randox Health Grand National include 2021 Cheltenham Festival headliner Rachael Blackmore (Minella Times) Bryony Frost and Tabitha Worsley.
Blackmore teams up with Henry de Bromhead – whose entries include Chris’s Dream (33-1) Balko Des Flos (40-1), and Minella Times (12-1).
Chris’s Dream, beaten by a neck in the Grade One Ladbrokes Chase over three miles at Down Royal this season, was pulled up in the Ryanair: “He’s been ear-marked for the National for a long time,” said de Bromhead.
“Minella Times is working his way up – he would also have a squeak,” said de Bromhead.
Blackmore said: “There is always a chance in the National, because there’s so many variables that can go wrong for people and no matter where you go, trouble will find you.
“You’ve just got to take your chances and the only time you’ve got no chance is when you’re not on something’s back heading to the start.”
Blackmore added: “I just try not to get too wrapped up in it all. You just look forward to it. Things are different this year, but Cheltenham was a success for the Irish so hopefully we can do the same in Aintree.
“When you’re riding in the National, I think you allow yourself to picture yourself winning it – I think everyone has.
“I feel like the feeling of it actually happening is completely different to what you can imagine in your brain, so I try not to think about it too much.”
Frost, fifth on Milansbar behind Tiger Roll in the 2018 National, schooled Yala Enki over Aintree-style fences in Lambourn and at trainer David Pipe’s National fences.
“He jumped great. In the Becher Chase he went tanking into the first, which he can be a bit inclined to do, and fell, but he jumped round brilliantly loose and Bryony said his jumping has been brilliant since,” said trainer Paul Nicholls.
“We also run Give Me A Copper, which Harry Cobden will ride. He ran well on his seasonal debut, but he can sulk a bit, so we’ve kept him fresh and sometimes the race can entertain horses which sulk. “Yala Enki is our best chance, he’s a strong stayer with a touch of class,” said Nicholls.
Tabitha Worsley, who won the 2019 Foxhunters on Top Wood, rides Sub Lieutenant, trained by mother Georgie Howell; formerly trained by de Bromhead and ridden by Blackmore, when second in the Topham Chase over fences in 2019.
“I was riding out for Henry all of Cheltenham week, so I found out a bit more about him.
“He said he is such a fun horse to have about and he is a lovely horse. He said he can see him running a really nice race – so let’s hope he isn’t wrong.
“I asked Rachael about him and she said if you think he jumps a normal fence well, then wait until you get him over one of those Aintree fences.
“She said he won’t travel between the fences, but as soon as he is in those wings he just lights up – that filled me with a lot of excitement,” said Worsley.
2021 Randox Health Aintree Grand National selections:
- Cloth Cap
- Minella Times (ew)
- Burrows Saint (ew)
- Any Second Now (ew)
- Kimberlite Candy (ew)
Outsiders: Yala Enki; Anibale Fly; The Storyteller; Magic Of Light. *Certain bookmakers pay 7 places.