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Aintree Grand National - 9th April 2011 

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State of Play's Eyes Remain Firmly Fixed on Grand National

State Of Play is being prepared for a tilt at the richest-ever running of the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, April 9, entries for which close at noon on Tuesday, February 1, 2011.

State Of Play

State Of Play
Prize money has been boosted to £950,000, which makes the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National, run over four and a half miles and 30 fences, the jump race with the highest prize anywhere in the world outside of Japan.

Aintree Racecourse and John Smith’s are committed to making the John Smith’s Grand National, which has a global television audience of over 600 million, a £1-million race in the future.

Top class chaser State Of Play is aiming to make it third time lucky in this year’s race after finishing fourth to Mon Mome in 2009 and third to Don’t Push It last year.

The talented 11-year-old, winner of the 2006 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury and 2008 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, has not raced since last year’s John Smith’s Grand National and will head directly to the 2011 renewal in April without a preparatory run.

Trainer Evan Williams revealed today: “State Of Play will definitely be getting an entry in the John Smith’s Grand National on Tuesday.

“When he crossed the line last year, the plan was always to go straight to this year’s race and, as he’s doing his work as well as ever and enjoying life, that plan remains.

“He’s a horse that we’ve always done things slightly differently with. He won the Hennessy off a lay-off and both of his John Smith’s Grand National runs have come off the back of long breaks, so he’s shown that he is at his best when he’s fresh.

“The horse is a year older but he’s loving life and enjoying his work - that’s one of the benefits with not having many miles on the clock.

“The Grand National is such an important race and worth so much prize money that when you have a horse that loves it like he does, it makes sense to prepare him with just that race in mind.

“He really does love Aintree and we’re lucky that he’ll go on any ground - soft, good or anything in between. If we can get him there in one piece and he runs another race like he has done the past two years, it will be a fantastic achievement for the horse.”

Weights for the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National are compiled by Phil Smith, Head of Handicapping at the British Horseracing Authority, and announced in London on Tuesday, February 15.

First staged in 1839, this year’s running of the world’s most famous chase is to due to have a maximum field of 40 runners in front of over 70,000 racegoers at Aintree.

Last year’s John Smith’s Grand National is instantly memorable thanks to the emotional victory of champion jockey Tony (AP) McCoy, who was winning the great race for the first time at the 15th attempt, on Don’t Push It.

McCoy’s John Smith’s Grand National triumph further boosted his public profile and generated wider appreciation of the 15-time champion jump jockey’s record-breaking exploits.

He was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June and six months later the public voted him the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year by an overwhelming majority.

McCoy’s success aboard Don’t Push It fulfilled a long-held ambition for his main patron and leading owner JP McManus, whose first John Smith’s Grand National victory came after seeing his colours carried by 38 runners in the race stretching back to 1982.

Don’t Push It’s trainer, Jonjo O’Neill, himself a dual champion jump jockey, never managed to finish the race in eight attempts as a rider.

O’Neill confirmed at the recent media stable visit to Jackdaws Castle in Gloucestershire that Don’t Push It is being aimed again at the John Smith’s Grand National.

The John Smith’s Grand National is the highlight of three outstanding days of racing at Aintree’s renowned John Smith’s Grand National meeting, which takes place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 7, 8 and 9, 2011.

The Thursday is Liverpool Day, while Friday’s Ladies Day is a long established Merseyside tradition and the meeting culminates with the John Smith’s Grand National on the Saturday.

Ticket sales for the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National meeting have been very strong. The racecourse advises anyone who wishes to attend any day to purchase their desired option in advance to avoid disappointment.

Tickets and hospitality can be bought online at Tickets can also be purchased by calling the hotline on 0844 579 3001. Hospitality enquiries should be directed to 0151 522 2911.


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