Mouse Morris is hoping to become the first trainer to pull off the John Smith’s Grand National/Irish Grand National double in the same season since Ted Walsh achieved the rare feat in 2000, when he saddles Baily Breeze in the £800,000 Aintree spectacular on Saturday, April 5.
Walsh triumphed in the Grade Three John Smith’s Grand National with Papillon, while stablemate Commanche Court took the Irish prize at Fairyhouse. Morris, who secured the Irish Grand National on March 24 with Hear The Echo, would emulate his countryman’s remarkable feat if Baily Breeze were to land the spoils in the world’s most famous steeplechase, run over four and a half miles and 30 fences.
Morris revealed today: “Baily Breeze is all set for Aintree and would have a squeak if he puts everything together on the day.
“I’m not worried about him jumping those fences or staying the trip, I would just like the ground good. His last couple of runs have been on bottomless ground and it’s just no good for him.”
Baily Breeze showed himself to be a smart novice in the 2005/2006 season, winning the Grade Two Guinness Greenmount Park Novice Chase over two and a half miles at Limerick, before enduring a seven-race losing streak that was broken in a Clonmel handicap hurdle in April, 2007.
The nine-year-old, who has failed to shine in two starts since the turn of the year, landed a handicap chase at Galway in October and then ran a fine race in defeat when sixth to Newbay Prop in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown on December 27. Baily Breeze finished a length in front of his stablemate Hear The Echo that day, to whom he was conceding 6lb.
Hear The Echo’s subsequent Fairyhouse triumph has boosted Baily Breeze’s claims going into the John Smith’s Grand National but Morris refuses to get carried away.
The County Tipperary trainer continued: “He’s a Grade Two winner so he has the ability and he is at the age now when he’s ready for the race. I think he’ll run a big race but I’m never confident in this game.
“The horses were wrong in January and February. They had a bit of a virus but they all seem okay again now.”
Baily Breeze has been allotted 10st 11lb in the 161st running of the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree Racecourse, which is in Liverpool, the 2008 European Capital Of Culture. He is currently rated a 66/1 shot by the tote, official betting partner of the John Smith’s Grand National Meeting.
The 161st running of the John Smith’s Grand National is the highlight of the fantastic three-day John Smith’s Grand National Meeting, which commences on Thursday, April 3, and is the North West’s premier social event.
Friday, April 4, is the extremely popular Ladies’ Day, while John Smith’s Grand National Day, Saturday, April 5, commences at 12.40pm with the John Smith’s People’s Race, offering ordinary people the unique opportunity of competing in a real horse race.
Tickets remain available for all three days of the John Smith’s Grand National Meeting - go to www.aintree.co.uk or ring 0151 522 2929.
The next confirmation stage for the John Smith’s Grand National is at the five-day stage on Monday, March 31.
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