Grand National Meeting 4th - 6th April 2013 

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O'Regan Gets National Ride on Big Fella Thanks

Trainer Tom George is hoping Big Fella Thanks can continue his excellent record over the Grand National fences in the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree on April 6, and has snapped up Denis O'Regan for the ride.

Big Fella Thanks
© Racehorse Photos

Big Fella Thanks

The Irish-born jockey has yet to win the Aintree spectacular but he went close when second on the Dessie Hughes-trained Black Apalachi behind Don't Push It in 2010.

George has acted quickly to secure his services and said: "He's not ridden him before, but he's a good rider and I think he'll suit the horse."

Big Fella Thanks has got round in three Nationals, finishing fourth, sixth and seventh, and was also third in the 2012 Becher Chase over the famous fences in December. The 11-year-old also holds an entry in the Topham Chase at the three-day meeting next week, but the National is the favoured target.

"It's looking more likely he'll go for the National. Obviously if it did get very soft, we'd have a discussion about it, but the target is the National," said the Slad trainer.

"We'll leave him in the Topham as well, just in case. He's on a career-high mark of 154. If the handicapper is right, he's better than he's ever been. He's finished fourth in a National, he's had a good preparation and we hope everything goes his way. He enjoys the place and we know anything can happen round there."

One horse ruled out of the big race is Prince De Beauchene, who is suffering from a stress fracture in his ilium (pelvis).

Bookmakers have cut On His Own to 7-1 favourite in the Grand National betting following the news about Prince De Beauchene.

Seabass and Cappa Bleu, second and third in the market, have also been shortened in the betting along with several others.

Seabass was third 12 months ago and his trainer Ted Walsh is expecting another good run, especially as the 10-year-old has coped with his revised mark when third in the Bobbyjo Chase last month.

"The Bobbyjo was the first time he'd run off his new mark of 154, so I was glad to see him run up to it. It was a good run and I was delighted he ran as well as he should do," Walsh told At The Races.

Izzi Top
© Caroline Norris

Izzi Top
Walsh has a good second string to his bow in Colbert Station owned by JP McManus and winner of the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.

"He delivered well in the Paddy Power. The trip was a bit of a worry as he shows plenty of pace, but he bolted in there and there was no doubt about the trip. He's been freshened up since Christmas. There's not a lot to choose between the two of them, but Seabass has the experience of being there," said Walsh.

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