National weights – what they say

Trainer Tom Lacey – Kimberlite Candy (10st 10lb)

Tom Lacey has high hopes for Kimberlite Candy
Tom Lacey has high hopes for Kimberlite Candy (Steven Paston/PA)

“From an early age we joked and said he could be a Grand National horse as he was such an accurate jumper and that seed was sown in the Becher Chase first time out when he wasn’t beaten far by Walk In The Mill.

“The winner of this year’s Becher (Vieux Lion Rouge) hosed up, but I was still satisfied with the run of Kimberlite Candy. He feels like the finished article now.

“He has not done much wrong over park fences but he has jumped very impressively around there (Aintree) twice in the Becher and he seems to be very slick over them. All he needs is that bit of juice in the ground with an April shower or two.

“The Grand National has been the target from the moment he walked back in the yard this season. I’d like to think he can go there with a real live chance.”

Trainer Willie Mullins – Burrows Saint (10st 13lb), Acapella Bourgeois (10st 12lb), Brahma Bull (10st 8lb), Class Conti (10st 6lb), Cabaret Queen (10st 5lb), Robin Des Foret (10st 5lb), Saturnas (9st 13lb), Bellow Mome (9st 2lb)

Burrows Saint on his way to winning the Irish Grand National
Burrows Saint on his way to winning the Irish Grand National (PA)

“The Grand National is what we’ve been aiming for now for the last 24 months with Burrows Saint. He’s got a nice racing weight on 10st 13lb – we can’t complain about that.

“He’s yet to really come into form for me (this season), but I’m hoping that we can do that in the near future. We’ve got a few runs into him and the ground has been unusually heavy – I think he’s always better on spring ground.

“He could have another run before (Aintree). The Bobbyjo (Chase, Fairyhouse, February 28) is usually our preferred route, so both he and Acapella Bourgeois could go there.

“Acapella is getting on now as an 11-year-old and might be past his best, but we’ll see how he gets on in the Bobbyjo.

“I’m happy enough with Brahma Bull’s weight. He’ll love the trip I think and keep jumping away.

“I thought Class Conti ran a cracker in the Thyestes Chase (finished third), so that’s him coming back to form.

“Cabaret Queen was disappointing in the Thyestes and she will definitely have another run, while hopefully Robin Des Foret will just squeeze in.

“I think we’ll probably have to start looking for an alternative for Saturnas, maybe the Irish National, as he’ll need luck to get in.

“Bellow Mome has got no hope of getting in, so we’ll be going down the handicap route I’m sure as well.”

Trainer Paul Nicholls – Yala Enki (11st 3lb), Give Me Copper (10st 4lb), Shantou Flyer (9st 7lb)

Paul Nicholls views Yala Enki (right) as a legitimate National contender
Paul Nicholls views Yala Enki (right) as a legitimate National contender (Julian Herbert/PA)
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“The horse I’d love to run is Yala Enki and I’ve got to sweet-talk his owners into letting him run.

“To be fair to him he did fall at the first in the Becher, but that might not all be lost on him as he woke up fairly quickly and he jumped round loose afterwards very well.

“He is an experienced horse and he has been round everywhere. To me he is the ideal horse for the National.

“Give Me A Copper was a bit disappointing when he ran at Doncaster the other day and is not the easiest horse to train. The biggest challenge I’ve got to be honest with you is getting him there – it will be like a winner if he gets there.

“Shantou Flyer won’t get in the race.”

Trainer Nicky Henderson – Santini (11st 10lb), Beware The Bear (10st 10lb), Pym (10st 10lb), OK Corral (10st 8lb), Gold Present (10st 2lb), Valtor (9st 13lb)

Beware The Bear will bid to provide Nicky Henderson with a first Grand National win
Beware The Bear will bid to provide Nicky Henderson with a first Grand National win (Nigel French/PA)

“I’ve gone for the scattergun approach this year! The two that are most likely to go for the race are Beware The Bear and OK Corral, though Pym is another possible.

“I’m not saying I would retire on the spot if I won it, as I wouldn’t, but it would be awfully nice to win the race. It’s a very special race and goes a long way back in history – it would be sad if I didn’t manage to win it at some point.

“We’ve left Santini in it as this is something he ought to be trying at some stage of his career. The aim is the Gold Cup, as it was last season, but one day we would like to have a crack at it as his game is staying and he is built for the fences.

“You never know what can happen. He could fall at the first in the Gold Cup, or go lame on the day then be fine the next day and miss the Gold Cup. Then you would have to think about running him in the National.

“We’ve still got to do a bit of work with Ok Corral, but we’ve got time. He looks like a good stayer and was going for the race last year until it was cancelled. I think 10st 8lb looks a good weight.

“We’ve given Beware The Bear a break over the winter and he looks as fresh as paint. He is about to have a run in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster and proper staying trips are what he wants.

“Pym is definitely a possible. He stays all day and he is a pretty level, easy sort of horse.

“Valtor would run if he gets in and Gold Present has jumped well around there in a Topham – he just needs good ground.”

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies – Bristol De Mai (11st 10lb), Ballyoptic (11st 1lb), Crievehill (9st 11lb), The Hollow Ginge (9st 11lb) and Flying Angel (9st 10lb)

Bristol De Mai is at the head of the weights
Bristol De Mai is at the head of the weights (Clint Hughes/PA)

“Bristol De Mai would have run in the race last year – we have just simply delayed it by 12 months. There is no reason why he can’t carry top-weight as he has the class to.

“I’m not worried about the ground as it will never be fast so that isn’t going to be a problem. He galloped them all into the ground over three miles in heavy ground at Haydock so I think he will get the trip as he is a real stayer.

“Ballyoptic has not had the best of seasons, but he has now come down the weights a little bit which is good. The plan is to run him at the weekend where he holds entries at Ascot in the race he won last year and the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock.

“If Crievehill got in we would have a look it, but I think he will struggle, as will the other two.”

Trainer Christian Williams – Potters Corner (10st 6lb), Cap Du Nord (9st 13lb)

Potters Corner after winning the Welsh Grand National
Potters Corner after winning the Welsh Grand National (David Davies/PA)

“It’s been a quiet season for Potters Corner up until now, with everything geared towards Cheltenham and Aintree.

“Last year the main aim was the Welsh National while this time it is Aintree, so we’re just prepping him for the latter half of the season.

“He was a bit disappointing at Exeter on Sunday and I’m going to take a blood sample off him and scope him. It was a hurdle race, so perhaps he just needs those bigger fences now to spark him.

“The plan is to go for the cross-country race at Cheltenham followed by Aintree, so there’s no big panic yet.

“Cap Du Nord could be quite exciting and the unexposed one. He ran really well to finish third in soft ground at Doncaster last time – and on better ground I think it would have been a different result.

“He could be a lively type if he sneaks in.”

Trainer Jessica Harrington – Magic Of Light (10st 13lb), Jett (10st 7lb)

Magic Of Light finished second in the 2019 Grand National
Magic Of Light finished second in the 2019 Grand National (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“Magic Of Light is off a fair mark. I think she’s lower than she was going to be last year and is 2lb better off with Tiger Roll.

“All roads lead to Aintree. I’m not quite sure where she’s going to run next as I don’t want to run her on heavy ground, but she may come to Cheltenham to run at the Festival.”

Trainer Ted Walsh – Any Second Now (10st 9lb)

Any Second Now represents Ted Walsh
Any Second Now represents Ted Walsh (Paul Harding/PA)

“That’s roughly around what I thought he would get, so I’m happy enough with the weight – it’s much the same as what he had last year.

“I was disappointed with him when he ran in the Thyestes Chase, but Mark (Walsh) said he didn’t handle the very heavy ground and pulled him up. I’ll run him again either at Naas or at Fairyhouse in two weeks’ time.

“The trip won’t be a problem, the only problem will be whether he takes to the Aintree fences or not. Some horses love it – the 40 runners and the hustle and bustle of it – and some don’t and I hope he’s one of those who’ll relish it.”

Top golfer and part-owner Lee Westwood – Bellshill (10st 10lb)

Bellshill is part-owned by professional golfer Lee Westwood
Bellshill is part-owned by professional golfer Lee Westwood (Brian Lawless/PA)

“The Grand National is very high up in my affections. For people in horse racing it is very high up, but I think for people who don’t watching racing regularly it is probably the most famous race of all.

“It’s a bit like the Ryder Cup in a way – the majors draw in all the fanatical golf followers, but the Ryder Cup pulls in sport followers and I’d say the Grand National is the same.

“Sandy Thomson (trainer) is great with these older racehorses. Getting an old-ish horse like Bellshill there is an even bigger achievement and if he races you just want him to come back safe and sound.

“Just see him jump the fences would be a real buzz if it happens.”

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