Grand National 2017 Fact Files
Blaklion (GB) 8-11-00
Breeder: Mary Morrison
Born: April 3, 2009
Owner: Simon Such & Gino Paletta
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies
Jockey: Noel Fehily
*Four pounds well in on official ratings after finishing an excellent second, beaten three and a quarter lengths to Vieux Lion Rouge, the pair clear of the other runners, under top-weight, in the G3 Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park on February 18.
*Fifth behind Native River in Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November and third behind Definitly Red in Wetherby’s G3 Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase over Christmas.
*Career highlight so far came when defeating Shaneshill by a half-length in last year’s G1 RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
*Trainer is the only current handler to have won the Grand National more than once – thanks to Earth Summit (1998) & Bindaree (2002).
*Blaklion was the regular mount of Ryan Hatch (rode the horse in 11 races, winning four times including the RSA Chase) until he suffered fractures to his neck, vertebrae and sternum and was left with a haematoma on his spinal cord when his mount Cogry fell in a handicap chase at Cheltenham on December 9. He has left hospital and is undergoing rehabilitation as an on-site patient at Oaksey House in Lambourn.
Jump race record: Starts: 21; Wins: 8; 2nd: 4; 3rd: 3; Win & Place Prize Money: £230,899
Simon Such & Gino Paletta
Businessman Simon Such and his wife Sarah, in whose name their horses used to run, live in Worcester, while Gino Paletta (born July, 1959) is a businessman and British property investor based in Gresford near Wrexham, Wales. Paletta, married to Jeanette, was a director of Wrexham Football Club from 1990 to 1999. Racing interests: the pair have enjoyed considerable success with a small string of horses, headed by Cheltenham Festival winners The New One and Blaklion. The New One, now nine, has won 18 of his 29 starts and run in the last four Stan James Champion Hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival, earning just shy of £900,000 in prize money. They also own novice hurdler Ballyhill, novice chaser Little Pop and chaser Benbens who has won at Aintree, all with Nigel Twiston-Davies. Gino Paletta previously owned two horses in partnership, Wise Owl and Frosted Grape, who were trained by David Pipe. Simon and Gino took the part in last summer’s Injured Jockeys Fund charity golf day at the Teign Valley Golf Club in Devon.
Randox Health Grand National Record: No previous runners
Nigel Twiston-Davies (Guiting Power, Gloucestershire)
Born: May 16, 1957 Background: initially combined training as a permit-holder with his farming interests throughout the 1980s, having his first winner with Last Of The Foxes at Hereford in March, 1982, before the agricultural recession prompted him to make training his full-time profession. He took out a full training licence in 1989, recording his first win as a public trainer in December of that year with Babil at Newbury. He has since gone on to register more than 1,800 successes, with his 1,000th winner coming at Stratford in October 2006. Rode 17 winners as an amateur under Rules, gained a further 17 point-to-point victories, and served as assistant trainer to Richard Head and Fred Rimell. A childhood neighbour and friend of Peter Scudamore, he went into partnership with the former champion Jump jockey to set up stables at Grange Hill Farm, Guiting Power, Gloucestershire, although Scudamore exited the venture in 2001 and currently assists Sottish trainer Lucinda Russell. Twiston-Davies adopted and developed the pioneering techniques of Martin Pipe, such as interval training and regular blood tests for his string, enabling him to rapidly raise his profile among the training ranks. He is the only current trainer to have won the Randox Health Grand National more than once, saddling Earth Summit to victory in 1998 and Bindaree four years later. The 2001/2002 campaign had been relatively quiet by Twiston-Davies’ high standards before Bindaree provided him with his second Grand National success. Afterwards he revealed that he had been intending to give up training but, despite “having a bigger debt than Argentina” after buying out Scudamore, the Aintree victory made him have a change of heart. His business partner, since 2009, has been former stable jockey Carl Llewellyn. Twiston-Davies has had 17 successes at the Cheltenham Festival, headed by Imperial Commander in the 2010 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. Other big-race wins include the Hennessy Gold Cup with King’s Road, three Scottish Grand National successes, two Welsh Grand National triumphs, the Betfair Chase with Imperial Commander (2010) and the Betway Aintree Hurdle with The New One (2014), Khyber Kim (2010) and Mister Morose (2000). His best season numerically was in 2010/11, when he saddled 97 winners, but he is approaching that total this season after 90 winners (up to March 29). His sons with his first wife Cathy, Sam (born October 15, 1992 and William (born December 1, 1995), are both jockeys. Sam is stable jockey to Paul Nicholls, but still rides for his father when possible, while William has returned to riding over jumps this season for his father and others after a successful spell as an apprentice on the Flat. Nigel is married to Vicky and they have three young children, Poppy, Rosie and Ted.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 1994 Young Hustler (BD 11th); 1995 Camelot Knight (FELL 21st), Dakyns Boy (UR 10th), Young Hustler (UR 3rd); 1996 Young Hustler (5th), Captain Dibble (11th); 1997 Camelot Knight (3rd), Dakyns Boy (8th), Grange Brake (Refused 27th); 1998 EARTH SUMMIT (WON); 1999 Earth Summit (8th), Camelot Knight (BD 22nd); 2000 Camelot Knight (15th); 2001 Beau (UR 20th), Spanish Main (FELL 1st); 2002 BINDAREE (WON), Frantic Tan (UR 5th), Beau (UR 14th); 2003 Bindaree (6th); 2004 Shardam (UR 3rd), Bindaree (UR 6th); 2005 Bindaree (11th), 2006 Baron Windrush (UR 3rd); 2007 Knowhere (UR 8th); Naunton Brook (PU 23rd), 2008 Fundamentalist (FELL 3rd), Ardaghey (FELL 4th), Naunton Brook (PU 19th), Knowhere (UR 25th); 2009 Battlecry (16th), Ollie Magern (FELL 2nd), Fundamentalist (PU 21st), Knowhere (PU 25th); 2010 Hello Bud (5th), Irish Raptor (FELL 10th), Beat The Boys (PU 19th), Ballyfitz (FELL 22nd), Ollie Magern (PU 28th); 2011 Hello Bud (PU 29th), Grand Slam Hero (FELL 13th); 2012 Hello Bud (7th), Viking Blond (FELL 1st); 2013 Major Malarkey (11th), Viking Blond (PU 15th), Imperial Commander (PU 22nd); 2016 Double Ross (PU 26th)
Born: December 24, 1974 in County Cork, Ireland Background: The son a farmer, he gained experience on the point-to-point circuit and in hunter chases as an amateur rider in his home country. He moved to Britain in 1998 and had his first success on Ivy Boy at Plumpton on November 16, 1998. He rode 12 winners in that first campaign and turned professional the following season. Has been dogged by injury throughout his career, but is currently enjoying a fine run as a freelance and has won plenty of major races in recent years, including back-to-back victories aboard Silviniaco Conti in the 2013 & 2014 G1 King George VI Chase. Has partnered five Cheltenham Festival winners, headed by a memorable double this year on Buveur D’Air (for trainer Nicky Henderson) in the G1 Stan James Champion Hurdle and Special Tiara (Henry de Bromhead IRE) in the G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. Fehily rides a lot for trainers Harry Fry and Neil Mulholland. His best total in a season was 127 in 2013/2014 and he is up to 106 this season (by March 30).
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2001 Moral Support (REF 8th); 2002 Celibate (6th); 2003 Good Shuil (PU 19th); 2004 Alcapone (PU 25th); 2005 Merchants Friend (FELL 10th); 2006 Risk Accessor (5th); 2007 Naunton Brook (PU 23rd); 2008 Bob Hall (PU 19th); 2009 Can’t Buy Time (FELL 18th); 2012 State Of Play (UR 5th); 2013 Treacle (UR 8th); 2014: Rocky Creek (5th); 2015 Unioniste (FELL 5th); 2016 Silviniaco Conti (PU 14th)