Coleman relishing Aintree challenge with National gamble

Aidan Coleman is counting down the hours to Snow Leopardess in the Randox Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

The mare has earned herself a considerable fan base already and after attracting ante-post support all week was promoted to big-race favouritism on Wednesday.

Three times a winner this season, she has an attractive weight of 10st 9lb – and the all-important experience of the famous fences, having won the Becher Chase.

Adding to the plot is her unusual history, with the Charlie Longsdon-trained grey in the unique position of taking on the world’s greatest steeplechase having returned from a lengthy injury-enforced absence, during which she produced a foal.

Coleman said: “She’s had an absolutely super season, she won at Bangor and then she went to the Becher.

Charlie Longsdon's Snow Leopardess
Charlie Longsdon’s Snow Leopardess (Julian Herbert/PA)

“I was suspended the last day when she ran so I missed her at Exeter, but I’m really looking forward to getting back on her.

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“There’s been a lot of money for her all week, which was always going to happen.

“There’s a great backstory to her and that’s been well documented. She’s a great mare to be associated with and let’s hope it’s 14th time lucky for me in the race!

“She’s always been a particularly good jumper, I suppose the one thing is that the softer the ground the better for her, just to slow them down a touch.

“You have to take what you get and she does go on better ground, it’s not a massive inconvenience to her – it would just play to her strengths if we did get some rain.”

Snow Leopardess winning the Becher Chase
Snow Leopardess winning the Becher Chase (Tim Goode/PA)

A superb jumping performance when winning the Becher with Coleman has ensured that Snow Leopardess has never been too far away from the narrow end of the National betting market – and the money has continued to come.

Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes said: “We knew Snow Leopardess would be the public horse, but probably weren’t expecting so much interest in her until Grand National day itself.

“In her bid to become the first mother to win the race in living memory, punters have fallen in love with the mare and just can’t wait until Saturday to show their support. As a result of the money we have seen today, she is now the clear favourite to win the world’s most famous race.”

William Hill’s Tony Kenny added: “The momentum is very much behind Snow Leopardess and the 7-1 favourite for this year’s Grand National is fast becoming a very bad result indeed.”

Before getting aboard Snow Leopardess, Coleman will team up with another popular mare when he takes the ride on Nicky Henderson’s Epatante in the Betway Aintree Hurdle on Thursday.

The bay was last seen finishing second to Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle and was victorious in her two prior runs this season, dead-heating with Not So Sleepy in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and then winning the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

Aidan Coleman aboard Epatante
Aidan Coleman aboard Epatante (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“She’s had a fantastic season and was unbeaten up until Cheltenham, but that was another super run and we were delighted with her,” said Coleman.

“She got close to Honeysuckle, which is not easy to do, she’s had a great year and I’m looking forward to getting on her again. She’s a very special mare and I’m delighted to be associated with her.

“She’ll go on any track, she’s won left-handed at Newcastle, right-handed at Kempton, they’re both flat, and then she’s gone and won a Champion Hurdle on an undulating course.

“She’s fine wherever she goes, I’m looking forward to what will hopefully be another good run.”

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