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John Smith's Grand National - 6th April 2013 

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Donald McCain Hoping to be Triple-Handed in Grand National
20/03/13

Trainer Donald McCain has four entries still entered in the 2013 John Smith's Grand National and is hoping to have three runners.

Across The Bay
© Racehorse Photos

Across The Bay

Weird Al, with Adrian Lane up and Across The Bay, ridden by Henry Brooke, had a spin on the Mildmay Course at Aintree on Tuesday, March 19. Across The Bay led the work before Weird Al ranged up at the end.

Ballabriggs won the 2011 John Smith's Grand National and has 11st 4lb at the moment this year, while Weird Al is three from the top of the handicap with 11st 8lb, Across The Bay is on 11st 2lb and Cloudy Lane has 9st 10lb.

The Cheshire-based trainer said: "Cloudy Lane is aiming at the John Smith's Fox Hunters' on the first day of the meeting and has been left in the John Smith's Grand National just in case Ballabriggs does not get there - both are owned by Trevor Hemmings who is a huge supporter of the race.

"I was brought up to miss Cheltenham - there is no point leaving the Grand National at Cheltenham so none of my four ran there last week.

"I am running out of plans with Weird Al. He does not stand or like much racing. We have kept him fresh and we will go there as fresh as we can. He looked great this morning and was running a nice enough race last year when he fell at the fourth last.

"Ballabriggs has come back from Kelso in tremendous nick. It is like someone has flicked a switch. The Kelso race fits in nicely before the Grand National.

"Across The Bay won a Grade Two hurdle last time and is an excellent performer - it is a question of whether he takes to the course but he seems fairly handicapped."

Phil Smith, the British Horseracing Authority Head of Handicapping, reflected on the 57 horses going forward for the 2013 John Smith's Grand National after this week's scratchings stage.

He said: "We would be more than happy with Imperial Commander (top-weight with 11st 10lb), a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, if he turned up on the day. He would add to the race and hopefully would have a chance of winning.

"A lot of the Irish have run since the weights have come out and been quite impressive in some cases. The Irish do have a strong hand.

The Rainbow Hunter
© Racehorse Photos

The Rainbow Hunter
"I was very impressed with The Rainbow Hunter earlier in the year but his subsequent performances have not been quite as good.

"Last year the horse that sort of panicked me was Sunnyhillboy as he went up 10lb after winning the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir at Cheltenham last year and was 10lb well in when failing to win the John Smith's Grand National by a nose.

"There is nothing like him this year, though a few have run well since the weights. Cappa Bleu did not run last week but the horse who heat him at Ascot Vino Griego ran well at Cheltenham. Cappa Bleu is 2lb well in now and came fourth in the John Smith's Grand National last year.

Tofino Bay
© Caroline Norris

Tofino Bay
"Rare Bob has run twice since the weights and would now be 6lb higher, while a very interesting horse Tofino Bay, who was second in the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase last week, ran to his rating and proved he stays four miles. He now needs to stay another half-mile.

"Big Fella Thanks will travel beautifully through the race but has not got home twice. He is a fabulous horse and brilliant jumper so let's hope he does better this year."

Andrew Tulloch, Regional Head of Racing and Clerk of the Course, reported that the Aintree going is on the soft side at the moment.

He said: "The 2013 John Smith's Grand National is going to be a fantastic race.

"The ground is on the easy side at the moment - soft and good to soft. It has been a hard winter, with plenty of snow and maybe more to come this week.

"We would love the temperatures to warm up. The soil temperature is about 5.5C, while last year the soil temperature at this time was 9.5C.

"We will always water if we have to so as to make sure we are on the easy side of good."

Betfred, the official betting partner of the John Smith's Grand National meeting, make On His Own the 8/1 favourite, while Teaforthree has been the best-backed horse in the last 24 hours, coming in from 22/1 last night to 18/1 this morning and now 16/1.

The 2013 John Smith's Grand National meeting starts on Thursday, April 4 at Aintree and runs through to Saturday, April 6.

 

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