Aintree Grand National - 14th April 2012 

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Dartnall Hoping Giles Cross Gets his Ground at Aintree

Victor Dartnall is hoping for a wet spell as he prepares Giles Cross for the John Smith’s Grand National, run over four and a half miles and 30 fences at Aintree on Saturday, April 14.

The 10-year-old features among 77 horses going forward for the £975,000 contest following the first scratchings deadline on February 28, details of which are announced today.

Giles Cross
© Racehorse Photos

Giles Cross
Giles Cross was last seen when winning the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park over three and a half miles on February 18, having previously finished a game second to Le Beau Bai in the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow on December 27. Giles Cross has been allotted 10st 1lb for the Aintree spectacular and, after his victory 11 days ago, is 6lb “well in” on handicap ratings.

North Devon-based Dartnall said: “It all depends on the ground for Giles Cross. He will be in the Irish Grand National as well, but if it looked like it was going to come up soft at Aintree we would be very tempted.

“Good to soft ground would probably be all right, though if we had a wet time we will definitely be there.

“I was very pleased with his effort at Haydock, they (the handicappers) have given him a 6lb rise, but he is in the John Smith’s Grand National off his old mark which makes it even more tempting to run at Aintree.

“He didn’t really have a hard race at Haydock because he did everything on the bridle, and Denis O’Regan gave him a very confident ride.

“I think Giles Cross would be an ideal type for the John Smith’s Grand National. He jumps very well and like I said, if the ground came right for him, I would love really to go there.”

Giles Cross is currently a 20/1 chance with Betfred, the official betting partner of the John Smith’s Grand National meeting.

Prince De Beauchene
© Caroline Norris

Prince De Beauchene
Last weekend featured a number of fancied John Smith’s Grand National contenders putting their credentials on the line, with the most impressive performance coming from Prince De Beauchene in the Grade Two Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse. The nine-year-old won comfortably over the three miles, one furlong trip and is following a well trodden path after the Willie Mullins trained Hedgehunter to capture the Bobbyjo Chase and John Smith’s Grand National in the same season in 2005. As a result Prince De Beauchene is now 9/1 clear favourite with Betfred.

The Fairyhouse feature also saw a pleasing return to the racecourse from Black Apalachi, who finished second to Don’t Push It in the 2010 John Smith’s Grand National, but he had not been seen on a racecourse since. However, the 13-year-old ran on well from the rear to take second, while stable companion Rare Bob faded to finish fifth and fellow John Smith’s Grand National hope Alfa Beat was pulled up before the last.

In the Grade Three Racing Plus Chase over three miles at Kempton Park, Hector’s Choice qualified for Britain’s richest jump race by finishing second ahead of Hennessy runner-up Planet Of Sound.

Ted Walsh, who won the John Smith’s Grand National in 2000 with Papillon, saddled Seabass to a sixth straight success under Rules on Sunday in the Grade Two Chase at Naas over two miles. The nine-year-old is now 16/1 for Aintree glory with Betfred.

Last season’s John Smith’s Grand National hero Ballabriggs will be seen for the first time since in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster or the Premier Chase at Kelso this weekend, where he is likely to face According To Pete and Abbreybraney who also hold John Smith’s Grand National ambitions. Long time ante-post favourite Junior has also been given an entry in the in the Grimthorpe Chase, but the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup in just over a fortnight is also an option.

Burton Port

Burton Port
At the first scratchings deadline all the leading contenders have stood their ground including top-weight Synchronised, Betfred Becher Chase victor West End Rocker, Sky Bet Chase winner Calgary Bay, and Nicky Henderson’s Burton Port, who returned from a long absence to finish a promising second to Long Run in the Grade Two Denman Chase at Newbury on February 17.

The next scratchings deadline for the John Smith’s Grand National is on Tuesday, March 20.

The 2012 John Smith’s Grand National meeting runs from April 12 to 14 and showcases top-class racing on each day.

Tickets and hospitality packages are still available. Visit for more details or call 0844 579 3001.


John Smith’s Grand National – Betfred bet: 9/1 Prince De Beauchene, 14/1 Junior, 16/1 Ballabriggs, Burton Port, Seabass, Synchronised, West End Rocker, 20/1 Cappa Bleu, Chicago Grey, Giles Cross, Midnight Chase, Neptune Collonges, On His Own, Quel Esprit, Roberto Goldback, Treacle, 25/1 Apt Approach, Calgary Bay, Deep Purple, Hold On Julio, Massini’s Maguire, Planet Of Sound, Roulez Cool, Shakalakaboomboom, The Midnight Club, 33/1 According To Pete, Alfa Beat, Always Right, Always Waining, Backstage, Becauseicouldntsee, Hector’s Choice, Killyglen, Le Beau Bai, Niche Market, Organisedconfusion, Pearlysteps, Quantitatitveeasing, Quiscover Fontaine, State Of Play, Stewarts House, Sunnyhillboy, Viking Blond, Weird Al, 40/1 Arbor Supreme, Ballyvesey, Fair Along, Mon Mome, Postmaster, Rare Bob, Some Target, Tatenen, The Package, Uncle Junior, Vic Venturi, 50/1 Another Palm, Any Currency, Black Apalachi, Hello Bud, Midnight Haze, Northern Alliance, Our Island, Scotsirish, Shakervilz, Swing Bill, Tartak, Tharawaat, Wymott, 66/1 Crescent Island, In Compliance, Psycho, Saddlers Storm, Schindler’s Gold, 100/1 Abbeybraney, King Fontaine, Minella Theatre, Neptune Equester, Smoking Aces


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