Aintree Grand National Meeting 2008 

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Cornish Rebel Ready for Aintree Test

Cheshire trainer Lisa Williamson is anticipating a big effort from the talented and quirky Cornish Rebel, her first runner in the £800,000 John Smith’s Grand National, at Aintree on Saturday, April 5.

Cornish Rebel

Cornish Rebel

The 11-year-old, a short-head runner-up in the 2005 Scottish Grand National when trained by Paul Nicholls, runs in the colours of Williamson’s brother-in-law John Halewood, who enjoyed his greatest moment as an owner when Aintree favourite Amberleigh House triumphed in the 2004 Grand National.

Williamson revealed this morning: “Cornish Rebel is an intended runner. He’s fine, he’s fresh and he’s well - we are happy with him, so the plan is to take him there.

“We are pleased with his progress this season. I think he has retained plenty of his ability, he is a quirky character but he has enjoyed the change coming here.”

Cornish Rebel, a brother to triple totesport Gold Cup hero Best Mate and Halewood’s 2006 John Smith’s Grand National eighth Inca Trail, joined Williamson ahead of the current campaign. His three outings this term have come in hunter chases, yielding a pair of runner-up finishes prior to a ninth-place effort behind Amicelli in the Christie’s Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last time.

The Saighton Hall handler continued: “We dropped him down in class to hunter chases to try and get his confidence back. He was bursting blood vessels but we seem to have cured that at the moment.

“He didn’t jump well in a big crowd at Cheltenham last time so at Aintree maybe we will just try and find a space for him on his own, if that’s possible. He didn’t like being crowded by horses in the Foxhunter Chase and had one that fell in front of him, but he ran on well.

“He is a bit of a monkey but we have built some national fences here and he is jumping those well at the moment, so he seems to be enjoying it. I’d like to see him finish in the first 10.”

Williamson has a strong John Smith’s Grand National connection through the success of Halewood, who is married to her sister Judy Eaton, herself a former trainer.

Williamson added: “My sister bred and trained Harley, who ran in the race behind Seagram in 1991 and is still with us now. He’s 28 and is still ridden today, and of course John had the 2004 winner Amberleigh House, who is now in retirement at the National Stud.”

Cornish Rebel, a Grade One winner as a novice over hurdles, also finished third in the Coral Welsh National, Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup and Royal & SunAlliance Chase (all in 2005), and pulled-up before the 19th fence in the 2006 John Smith’s Grand National, having been badly hampered at the first. He is set to carry 10st 12lb.

The Tote, the official betting partner of the John Smith’s Grand National Meeting at Aintree, make Cornish Rebel a 100/1 chance for the world’s most famous steeplechase.

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.

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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