Aintree Grand National Meeting 2009 

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McCoy On Butler’s Cabin and Mark Walsh Gets Call Up for Reveillez

From Equicizer to The Real Thing for Treadwell
Egerton Confirms Hutchinson for Darkness
Hutchinson Jumps at Opportunity on Darkness

Riding plans for J P McManus’s four Jonjo O’Neill-trained John Smith’s Grand National runners have been decided, with Tony McCoy opting to ride hotly-fancied Butler’s Cabin.

Noel Fehily, who rides regularly for O’Neill when McCoy is not available, will be on Can’t Buy Time, Robert Thornton has been given the mount on L’Ami, while conditional jockey Mark Walsh, from Kildare in Ireland, will take his first John Smith’s Grand National ride on Reveillez.

Commenting on Walsh’s booking, Frank Berry, McManus’s racing manager, said: "Mark is an up-and-coming young man who has ridden for the boss in Ireland and been lucky for us."

Walsh will be making his debut in the big race, but he won the opening event on John Smith’s Grand National day 2004, the Martell Cordon Bleu Handicap Hurdle, on Puck Out for McManus and trainer Christy Roche. In that same year he rode over the National fences when fifth on the O’Neill-trained Farinel in Forest Gunner’s Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree’s North West Masters meeting.

Walsh said today: "I got a phone call this morning from my agent, Garry Cribbin, to say I was booked for Reveillez. It’s great news. I’m delighted.

"I’ve never sat on the horse, but as a winner of the Jewson’s Novices’ Chase [at the Cheltenham Festival] he’s shown a bit of class form. I’m just hoping for a clear run and a bit of luck.

"Things have gone well for me in Ireland this season. I’ve had 19 winners [he needs one more for a personal best] and I won the [Grade 2] Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park on Glenfinn Captain, who is owned by J P and trained by Tom Taaffe. The 23-year-old, who is a cousin of former jockey David Walsh, first came to Aintree as a boy with his father, John, who runs a food supplies business and has owned the occasional horse.

"I remember walking the National course with my father and brother," said Walsh. "The fences seemed big, but I wanted to ride over them. I’ll be walking the course again on Saturday morning with Slippers Madden [who won the race in 2006 on Numbersixvalverde]. He’s been there and done the business so I’ll be looking for some good advice."Of McCoy’s decision to ride Butler’s Cabin, Berry said: "It was a toss-up between that one and L’Ami and not an easy choice. The ground was a factor. Butler’s Cabin was running well last year, but the second Becher’s [where he fell] is still a long way from home.

"Robert was always going to ride one of our team and he’s now on L’Ami. He’s a straight-forward ride, and although he fell last year he was good round there the year before.

"Noel is on Can’t Buy Time. He jumps well, likes good ground and put up a good effort in the four-miler at Cheltenham [fourth to Tricky Trickster]."


From Equicizer to The Real Thing for Treadwell

While thousands of youngsters watch the John Smith’s Grand National on television and dream of taking part in the big race, Liam Treadwell has enthusiastically driven home the winner.

He explained: "I used to record the race, and then watch it at home while riding an equicizer [mechanical horse]."

On Saturday Treadwell gets a chance to experience the real thing when riding the Venetia Williams-trained Mon Mome, who will be his first ride over the National fences.

Treadwell said this morning: "I got a call yesterday evening to say I would ride the horse. I guessed it was between me and Will Biddick, and I’m delighted to be given the chance.

"I’ve ridden Mon Mome in races and know him well enough. He took to Aintree last year [when tenth under Aidan Coleman] and I’m hopeful he will do so again. A lot of fancied horses go there and don’t enjoy the fences, but he got round. I’ll have a chat to Venetia before Saturday, take some advice from more experienced jockeys and hopefully get an idea about how best to ride the race."

Treadwell has ridden Mon Mome in two ‘Nationals’ – they were second in the 2006 Welsh version behind Halcon Genelardais and eighth in Iris De Balme’s Scottish model last season. "He’s run some smashing races on heavy ground, but Aintree brings out different demands in horses, and he acted round there last year," said Treadwell.

Brought up in Sussex, Treadwell’s parents, John and Lorraine, worked as grooms for John Dunlop (his father still does) and their son began his racing career on the Flat. He said: "I rode out for John Dunlop from the age of 15, then left school and did one season with Amanda Perrett followed by one with Dandy Nicholls. Eventually the weight caught up with me, but in my heart of hearts I had always wanted to be a jump jockey. There was something exciting about riding over fences.

"I went to Venetia’s as a conditional jockey and spent three seasons there and was given some cracking opportunities, and I still ride out there once a week, but I also ride the majority of Nick Gifford’s horses.

"Every jump jockey wants to ride in the [John Smith’s] Grand National, but just being involved in the build up, and being part of the race, is something I’ve always wanted to do."

Egerton Confirms Hutchinson for Darkness

Charles Egerton, trainer of John Smith’s Grand National contender Darkness, confirmed this morning that Wayne Hutchinson will ride his horse in Saturday’s race.

Egerton had booked Dominic Elsworth for the ride on the 20/1 hope, but the jockey suffered a fall on Dance Island at Towcester a week ago and, although intending to ride at the Grand National Meeting on Friday (he is booked to ride El Dancer for Lucy Wadham), Egerton decided to make the switch.

"Dominic has never sat on the horse before and was due to school him this week. But on Monday he was having his CAT scan and on Tuesday he was still not fit enough to ride, so Wayne schooled him that day.

"If Dominic had ridden the horse before it would have been different and I waited five days for him to be fit to school Darkness. I had to make a decision as to what was in the best interests of the horse and the owner. I feel very sorry for Dominic, but I’m running a business and sometimes it isn’t easy. Sometimes you have to drop players from the squad when you think they’re not fit enough.

"It’s incredible bad luck for Dominic and I have to say that he’s been very honest about it. He told me that he was hoping to ride, but warned me that I should look for a substitute in case."

Hutchinson Jumps at Opportunity on Darkness

The first phone call that Wayne Hutchinson made this morning when he learned he had been given the ride on Darkness in Saturday’s John Smith’s Grand National was to the jockey he displaced, Dominic Elsworth.

"He’s a very good friend and of course I feel for him," he said.

Hutchinson had schooled Darkness at Charles Egerton’s Heads Farm Stables on Tuesday, as Elsworth was not available, but only learnt of his booking at 10:30 this morning.

"The horse schooled really well when I rode him and obviously I’m very excited," he said.

For Hutchinson, who was scheduled to be at Chepstow on Saturday, it will be a second ride in the John Smith’s Grand National. Two years ago, he rode Tikram for trainer Alan King, but parted company with his mount at the first.

This season started late for Hutchison, who was out for seven months with a cruciate ligament injury.

"I wasn’t fit to ride till November, but the knee’s perfect now and I’ve had a fantastic season. I had my first ever Cheltenham Festival winner on Oh Crick last month and now I’m really looking forward to Saturday."


Latest totesport Grand National betting:

My Will 15/2, Butler’s Cabin 9/1, Rambling Minster 11/1, State Of Play 12/1, Black Apalachi 14/1, Hear The Echo 14/1, Big Fella Thanks 16/1, Comply Or Die 16/1, Southern Vic 16/1, Parsons Legacy 16/1, L’Ami 20/1, Darkness 20/1, Irish Invader 20/1, Kilbeggan Blade 25/1, Snowy Morning 25/1, Himalayan Trail 25/1, Brooklyn Brownie 25/1, Chelsea Harbour 33/1, Cloudy Lane 33/1, Cornish Sett 33/1, Offshore Account 33/1, Can’t Buy Time 40/1, Preists Leap 40/1, Battlecry 50/1, Golden Flight 50/1, Idle Talk 50/1, Knowhere 50/1, Mon Mome 50/1, Silver Birch 50/1, Eurotrek 66/1, Fleet Street 66/1, Arteea100/1, Fundamentalist 100/1, Kelami 100/1, Musica Bella 100/1, Ollie Magern 100/1, Reveillez 100/1, Stan 100/1, Zabenz 100/1, Cerium 200/1. RESERVES: Maljimar 25/1, Companero 50/1, Patsy Hall 66/1, Iron Man 100/1.

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