O’Neill retains Aintree hopes for Monbeg Genius

Jonjo O’Neill has not given up hope of getting Monbeg Genius back on track in time to contest the Randox Grand National, despite being forced to miss another big-race engagement at Warwick this weekend.

Last seen finishing third in the in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury in early December, the eight-year-old is the 14-1 co-favourite with Paddy Power for the Aintree spectacular alongside last year’s first and third, Corach Rambler and Gaillard Du Mesnil.

However, a minor setback led to him not taking up his place as ante-post favourite for the Welsh Grand National over the festive period and he will also miss Saturday’s Wigley Group Classic Handicap Chase.

“He doesn’t run on Saturday, he’s still not right, he’s not recovered,” O’Neill said at Catterick on Thursday.

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“He’ll be all right, but I don’t know when he’ll be able to run. He hasn’t done any work, so he won’t be running for a little while I’d say.”

The Jackdaws Castle trainer admits he will need to get another run and potentially another win into his charge to ensure he makes the cut for what will be a 34-runner National for the first time this year.

He added: “He still could be a Grand National horse, it’s a few months away. That is still in the back of our minds obviously, but he needs to come right first. There’s no point running them if they’re not right.

“He will have to run before then (Aintree), he probably needs to win to get into the weights now the field has been cut down.

“If he can’t go there, he could go for the Scottish National or Midlands National or something like that. He has plenty of time, but he’s a horse for those races.”

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