Glen Rocco has ‘ultimate aim’ of Grand National bid

The 2021 Grand National remains the ultimate target for Nick Gifford’s staying chaser Glen Rocco.

The nine-year-old, who is owned by a partnership that includes Sir Alex Ferguson and Jeremy Kyle, has not run since last February because of the recurrence of a previous tendon injury.

While he has recovered and returned to training, Gifford thinks December’s Grand Sefton Handicap Chase over the National fences, for which he holds an entry, may come too soon.

“It’s a speculative entry – I have given him the entry just in case he is ready but I think he is 50/50,” he said.

“I just don’t think he’s going to be ready in time – it was more in hope than anything else, and I would be doubtful as to whether he’s going to get there. I think he’s going to need a bit longer.”

Although that first introduction to Aintree’s unique Grand National course is doubtful, the showpiece event itself remains the overriding goal for the chestnut.

“That’s the target – we’ve just got to keep working our way towards that,” added Gifford.

“It’s the ultimate aim – if he stays in one piece it will be the dream.”

Gifford’s father Josh famously trained Aldaniti to success in the big race in 1981, ridden by cancer survivor Bob Champion in a fairytale feat which became the inspiration for the 1983 film ‘Champions’.

The Queen meets Aintree heroes Aldaniti and Bob Champion
The Queen meets Aintree heroes Aldaniti and Bob Champion (PA)

Glen Rocco’s intended tilt at the National will come 40 years after that victory – and he bears something of a resemblance to Aldaniti, both horses being chestnut with broad white blazes.

“A few people do think that it’s a good omen – but I’m a realist, I think it’s a coincidence,” Gifford said of the parallels between the two chasers.

“It would certainly be lovely to get him there, though.”

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