Corach Rambler ready to rumble in quest for back-to-back Nationals

Lucinda Russell has her sights on another monumental day at Aintree when Corach Rambler defends his Randox Grand National title.

The 10-year-old ran out an impressive winner 12 months ago and will attempt to join the likes of Tiger Roll and the legendary Red Rum on the select list of back-to-back champions.

Buoyed by the performance of Ahoy Senor at the track on Thursday, the Scottish trainer is hopeful ahead of her Cheltenham Gold Cup third’s quest to join the Aintree immortals.

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Derek Fox and Lucinda Russell celebrate after winning the Randox Grand National
Derek Fox and Lucinda Russell celebrate after winning the Randox Grand National (Peter Byrne/PA)

Russell – like her jockey Derek Fox also victorious with One For Arthur in 2017 – said: “I love coming to Aintree, we’ve had so many great days here and the crowd are always so appreciative, I feel a great affinity with it, it’s magic.

“I wish I could skip forward to Sunday, but I’m really hopeful and obviously watching Ahoy Senor has boosted his form again as the winner (Gerri Colombe) was just in front of him in the Gold Cup.

“We didn’t travel down until Thursday morning, which is different for us, but Scu (Peter Scudamore, assistant and partner) wanted to ride Corach on Thursday morning. The ground must be drying out and that is in his favour.”

Vanillier’s fast-finishing effort was ultimately in vain 12 months ago, but last year’s runner-up has been prepared with one day in mind as he bids to become the first grey in 12 years to win.

Vanillier in Grand National action last year
Vanillier in Grand National action last year (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We’ve trained him all year with this race in mind and he seems in good nick at home, so hopefully he will be right there,” said trainer Gavin Cromwell.

“He likes it at Aintree, so it would be good to see him run well there again.”

Cromwell will also be represented by Cheltenham Festival winner Limerick Lace, who will try to end the 70-year plus losing run for mares in the National.

He continued: “I suppose she goes on the ground, but whether she will stay on that ground, I’m not particularly sure – it’s going to take a lot of getting.

“She’s only a seven-year-old, but she is going into the race in good form and off a light weight and we hope she has a chance.”

Limerick Lace is owned by JP McManus, who is seeking his third National win after both Don’t Push It (2010) and Minella Times (2021).

The McManus squad includes the highly-touted Willie Mullins-trained pair I Am Maximus and Meetingofthewaters, with the master of Closutton reportedly pleased with the duo’s preparations.

“We have some nice prospects, but in the National you need a bit of luck. Hopefully they get round and have a bit of luck, that would be great,” said McManus’ racing manager Frank Berry.

“Willie is happy with his. I Am Maximus would be the big one if he takes to the place. He won’t mind the ground, but his jumping will have to come into play and he will need a bit of luck in running.

“Meetingofthewaters ran well at Cheltenham and he’s come out of the race well. Willie is very happy with him and we keep our fingers crossed he gets a good round.”

There would be emotional scenes in the winner’s enclosure if Kitty’s Light was to strike for Christian Williams and having snuck into the race at the foot of the handicap, big-race pilot Jack Tudor is willing a long-held plan to come to fruition.

“We kind of sacrificed our whole season for this one race, so to be guaranteed a run now is massive,” said Tudor.

“From this time last year, it’s kind of all been leading to this and to now finally have a go at it, we’re looking forward to it.

“He’s obviously very used to big handicaps and big-runner fields and the only difference is going to be the fences and as long as he takes to them, they actually ride like a very nice fence, so we just hope he can get into a nice rhythm early and then hope for a bit of luck.”

Panda Boy will represent Martin Brassil in the Grand National
Panda Boy will represent Martin Brassil in the Grand National (Donall Farmer/PA)



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Martin Brassil knows all about winning on Merseyside and hopes conditions will not hinder Panda Boy’s attempt to follow in the footsteps of 2006 winner Numbersixvalverde.

“It will all depend on how he copes, but he has coped with a couple of big fields so far and hopefully it won’t be a problem,” explained Brassil.

“With the reduced sized field, it might make things easier too, but the ground would be the one thing I would be worried about if there is heavy in there.

“He’s had two solid runs in good company and he’s about 10 or 11lb better off with Meetingofthewaters from the Leopardstown race where he was beaten and hopefully if Meetingofthewaters is involved, Panda Boy might be somewhere in and around at the finish.”

Mahler Mission will be John McConnell's first runner in the Grand National
Mahler Mission will be John McConnell’s first runner in the Grand National (Tim Goode/PA)

In contrast, Mahler Mission will give John McConnell his first runner, with the Irish handler full of confidence ahead of the big occasion.

He said: “We couldn’t be happier with him and we’re hoping that translates on the day – and if we get some above average luck, he should run a big race.

“We’ve never had him better and from that point of view we’re very happy. The ground should be OK and we’re looking forward to it.

“It’s a very big day and I just hope we get no hard-luck stories and then whatever will be will be, but we’ve enormous confidence in the horse.”

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