Fred Rimell saddled four John Smith’s Grand National winners from Kinnersley Racing Stables and the famous establishment’s current incumbent, John Spearing, is hoping Simon bring home the prize for the late trainer’s widow, Mercy Rimell.
Simon was travelling strongly in the front rank under Andrew Thornton when falling at Valentine’s Brook (25th fence) on the second circuit in last year’s renewal of the Grade Three contest, which this year carries record prize money of £800,000.
This time around, Spearing and Rimell are hoping that the nine-year-old can complete the four and half miles and thirty fences of the world’s most famous steeplechase without mishap.
Spearing revealed today: “Simon is in good form and I’m pleased with his preparation. We’re looking forward to the race - I think Mrs Rimell is starting to have sleepless nights.
“I was getting a bit excited just before that jump (when Simon fell) last year. He just came there cantering, but they still had a fair way to go mind.”
Simon, winner of the 2007 Grade Three Racing Post Chase, has failed to win in four starts this term, despite showing a good level of form. The homebred was a creditable fourth to Gungadu when attempting back-to-back victories in the three-mile Kempton contest on February 23.
Spearing continued: “He ran well at Kempton, but it was good ground and he just needs it softer over that shorter trip. He was staying on nicely at the end but they just outpaced him at the wrong time. Over the Grand National trip, as long as they have the ground good like last year, it won’t make too much difference.
“Dominic Elsworth takes the ride and he’s a man in form, so we’ll see how things go.”
A victory for Simon would follow a long tradition of John Smith’s Grand National success for the Rimell family. Fred Rimell saddled ESB (1956), Nicolaus Silver (1961), Gay Trip (1970) and Rag Trade (1976) to victory, while his father Tom sent out Forbra to win the 1932 Grand National from historic Kinnersley, Worcestershire.
Mercy Rimell took over the Kinnersley string upon the death of her husband in 1981, and saddled Gala’s Image to finish seventh to Little Polveir in the 1989 John Smith’s Grand National, as well as Pilot Officer, who was in contention when falling at The Chair in 1983, prior to her retirement from the training ranks
Simon has been allotted 11st 7lb and is 12/1 fifth choice in the betting with the Tote, the official betting partner of the John Smith’s Grand National Meeting.
The John Smith’s Grand National is a major global sporting event with an estimated worldwide audience of 600 million people in 140 countries. The fantastic event takes place at the renowned Aintree racecourse, which is located in Liverpool, the 2008 European Capital Of Culture.
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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