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Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Last year's winner Hedgehunter heads 96 entries remaining in the 2006 John Smith's Grand National after today's second forfeit stage with 58 horses currently in the handicap

Willie Mullins' charge, who finished an excellent second to War Of Attrition in last week's totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, is set to share top weight of 11st 12lb with the 2005 John Smith's Grand National runner-up Royal Auclair following the withdrawal today or original top weight Monkerhostin, one of 26 horses who have come out at today's second forfeit stage. The weights will rise by 2lb following Monkerhostin's withdrawal.

But virtually all the leading contenders remain in the £700,000 event, run at Aintree on Saturday, April 8.

Aintree specialist Clan Royal, who finished second to Amberleigh House in the 2004 John Smith's Grand National and was travelling ominously well when being carried out in last year's race, is one of 10 J P McManus-owned entries still in the 2006 event with others including the Racing Post Chase winner Innox, trained in France by Francois Doumen.

No trainer has been more successful in the John Smith's Grand National than Ginger McCain and he will bid for a unique fifth success with either the 2004 winner Amberleigh House, who had a spin over hurdles at Hereford yesterday, or Ebony Light, who this morning had a gallop at Aintree under his big-race pilot Stephen Craine.

"Ebony Light wants all of four miles and if he is in the first 16 or 20 going round second time then we'll have a big shout," said McCain. "He is a far better horse on softer ground, he'll go through it when others won't. Although he made a couple of minor errors over these fences in the Sefton Chase, he ran on like a train up the straight and was crying out for another circuit. Stephen Craine will ride him."

Amberleigh House is now 14 years old but McCain would not be surprised to see him run a big race. "He certainly won't be disgraced, he's the best Liverpool horse we've seen in recent years and I can certainly see him finish in the first six. There is always a magical story in the National and at Aintree and I just have a sneaking suspicion that this year's magic could be all about the first 14-year-old to win."

Hedgehunter is one of 19 horses bidding to continue a tremendous recent run for Ireland, both at last week's Cheltenham Festival and at Aintree, where raiders from across the Irish Sea have accounted for four of the last seven John Smith's Grand National winners.

Other leading Irish-trained contenders include the 2005 Irish Grand National winner Numbersixvalverde, trained by Martin Brassil, Ted Walsh's Betfred Gold Cup hero Jack High and Garvivonnian, star of Ned Mitchell's small stable.

Charles Barnett, Aintree's Managing Director, said: "I am very pleased to see 96 horses still in the race. It promises to be another great contest and every runner is virtually certain to be in the handicap on April 8.

"We were delighted to see Hedgehunter go so close in the Gold Cup last week and, while his task will not be easy, another stable visit to the winner's yard in Carlow is not impossible."

Tony Calvin, spokesman for Betfair, Aintree's official betting partner, added: "The two horses at the top of the market look sure to run massive races once again, and are clearly worthy favourites. But there is growing Betfair confidence behind Irish National winner Numbersixvalverde, backed down from 95 to third favouritism at 17, and Sir Rembrandt, supported from 150 to 20."

Betfair's latest betting is: 7 Hedgehunter, 7.6 Clan Royal, 17 Numbersixvalverde, 18 Innox, 20 Sir Rembrandt, 25 Jack High, 27 Cornish Rebel, 28 Dun Doire, 32 Sir OJ, 34 bar


Aintree legend Ginger McCain was full of praise for the racecourse's new Weighing Room, Parade Ring, Winner's Enclosure and state-of-the-art Press Room, which will be open for the John Smith's Grand National Meeting and are part of the course's ongoing 30 million redevelopment.

"It's is utterly magnificent and very, very impressive," said McCain. "My only sadness is that I won't be around for another 50 years to continue enjoying it. It's amazing to see how this course has been transformed when you think that people were rattling buckets to save Aintree a few years ago. The facilities are truly tremendous - I was overwhelmed when I saw them."

For further information, please contact Nigel Payne, Aintree's Press Officer, on 01895 444407 or 07768 025265, or Dickon White, Commercial Director, on 0151 522 2915 or 07798 928924

Class 1, Grade 3, Handicap Chase, Total Prize Fund £700,000. 4.15pm, Aintree, Saturday, April 8, 2006. Four miles, about four furlongs (over the Grand National course). For 6-y-o and upwards which are allotted a rating of 110 or more by the Senior BHB NH Handicapper following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 12. Horses, which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at February 1, may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible for a weight providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse's racecourse performances to February 6 would merit a minimum rating of 110. To qualify horses must have run at least three times in Steeple Chases run under the Rules of Racing of the same Recognised Turf Authority up to and including February 12. At the Handicapper's discretion such horses may be allocated a rating. The decision of the Senior BHB NH Handicapper shall be final. Entries closed February 1, entries revealed February 2 (148 entries), weights revealed February 14, first forfeit stage February 28 (122 remain), second forfeit stage March 21 (96 remain), five-day confirmation stage April 3, final declaration stage, 10.00am, April 6. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Monday, March 20. May not include some overseas form.


Form Horse Age/Wgt Owner Trainer
42F-51520 ROYAL AUCLAIR (FR) 9-11-10 Clive Smith Paul Nicholls
0611-0422 HEDGEHUNTER (IRE) 10-11-10 Trevor Hemmings Willie Mullins IRE
02P-4B131 FONDMORT (FR) 10-11-08 Bill Brown Nicky Henderson
1332-330 CORNISH REBEL (IRE) 9-11-07 Graham Roach Paul Nicholls
330-001 THEREALBANDIT (IRE) 9-11-07 David Johnson Martin Pipe
1042-404 IT TAKES TIME (IRE) 12-11-06 David Johnson Martin Pipe
225-5000 LE ROI MIGUEL (FR) 8-11-05 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls
U12-10640 OLLIE MAGERN 8-11-04 Roger Nicholls Nigel Twiston-Davies
2///1P-411P EUROTREK (IRE) 10-11-02 Paul Green Paul Nicholls
111U/2P-P0 CALLING BRAVE (IRE) 10-11-00 Sir Robert Ogden Nicky Henderson
3P-PPF230 SIR REMBRANDT (IRE) 10-10-13 Alan Hordle Robert Alner
1-340253 NATIVE UPMANSHIP (IRE) 13-10-12 Sue Magnier Arthur Moore IRE
3P-124420 CELTIC SON (FR) 7-10-12 David Johnson Martin Pipe
P4-U0P000 SEEBALD (GER) 11-10-11 The Macca & Growler Partnership Martin Pipe
F1-404436 GROUND BALL (IRE) 9-10-11 J P McManus Charlie Swan IRE
0210-011 INNOX (FR) 10-10-11 J P McManus Francois Doumen FR
4P/111-4PP SILVER BIRCH (IRE) 9-10-10 Paul Barber & Des Nichols Paul Nicholls
3112140 WHISPERED SECRET (GER) 7-10-10 David Manasseh and Dan Levine Martin Pipe
65-0450 RINCE RI (IRE) 13-10-10 Frank Moriarty Ted Walsh IRE
5UU1/60- PUNTAL (FR) 10-10-10 Terry Neill Martin Pipe
111-P020 LORD OF ILLUSION (IRE) 9-10-09 P J Kennedy Tom George
1P00-5P JOLY BEY (FR) 9-10-09 David Dunsdon Nick Gifford
1401F10 EBONY LIGHT (IRE) 10-10-08 Roger Bellamy Ginger McCain
2P2-5PUP FIRST GOLD (FR) 13-10-08 J P McManus Francois Doumen FR
12/4C-531 CLAN ROYAL (FR) 11-10-08 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
330-02U LE DUC (FR) 7-10-08 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls
504-6511F SIR OJ (IRE) 9-10-08 Brian Keenan Noel Meade IRE
0-0P252PP EUROPA 10-10-08 Trevor Hemmings Ferdy Murphy
115-UPP FOREST GUNNER 12-10-08 John Gilsenan Richard Ford
1-2U0440 JOES EDGE (IRE) 9-10-08 Chemipetro Limited Ferdy Murphy
22102-FP2 JUVEIGNEUR (FR) 9-10-07 Trevor Hemmings Nicky Henderson
400-P5000 AMBERLEIGH HOUSE (IRE) 14-10-07 Halewood International Ltd Ginger McCain
113050350 BALLYCASSIDY (IRE) 10-10-07 Roddy Owen & P Fullagar Peter Bowen
10-561511 INCA TRAIL (IRE) 10-10-07 Susie Chown & Kathy Stuart Paul Nicholls
006513 GARVIVONNIAN (IRE) 11-10-06 Mrs A Long Ned Mitchell IRE
1-504B443 NUMBERSIXVALVERDE (IRE) 10-10-06 O B P Carroll Martin Brassil IRE
F6/0200-00 IZNOGOUD (FR) 10-10-06 The County Stores and Avalon Surfacing Martin Pipe
1-3045351 JACK HIGH (IRE) 11-10-05 Brenda Ross Ted Walsh IRE
2-253615 HAUT DE GAMME (FR) 11-10-05 The Haut De Gamme Partnership Ferdy Murphy
416-00P42 NIL DESPERANDUM (IRE) 9-10-05 Mike Shone Frances Crowley IRE
F413-004P ANOTHER RUM (IRE) 8-10-05 Ronald Lilley Ian Duncan IRE
16216-P4P BARON WINDRUSH 8-10-05 The Double Octagon Partnership Nigel Twiston-Davies
51P0-624 HEROS COLLONGES (FR) 11-10-05 John Hales Paul Nicholls
101PP/-64 TYNEANDTHYNEAGAIN 11-10-05 Howard Johnson Howard Johnson
U-2P62SR5 RISK ACCESSOR (IRE) 11-10-04 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
P4/14-F1 DIRECT ACCESS (IRE) 11-10-04 The Direct Access Partnership Nicky Richards
235P-255 COLNEL RAYBURN (IRE) 10-10-04 Thatch (Ferns) Racing Syndicate Paul Nolan IRE
11P2/-60F5 IRIS ROYAL (FR) 10-10-04 Sir Robert Ogden Nicky Henderson
256-21P KYMANDJEN (IRE) 9-10-03 Martin Doran Paul Nolan IRE
1P5//0PP- SHOTGUN WILLY (IRE) 12-10-03 Paul Beck Richard Guest

21411F ROSS COMM 10-10-03 Kevin Treanor Sue Smith
10-01006 SPOT THEDIFFERENCE (IRE) 13-10-03 J P McManus Enda Bolger IRE
1P3/44F-P4 LORD ATTERBURY (IRE) 10-10-02 David Johnson Martin Pipe
P0-0P360 JUST IN DEBT (IRE) 10-10-02 J W Hazeldean Martin Todhunter
03U-00P3P MARCUS DU BERLAIS (FR) 9-10-02 Marcus Beresford Arthur Moore IRE
111122 HAKIM (NZ) 12-10-00 T N Siviter John Spearing
410-0U50 LIBERTHINE (FR) 7-10-00 Robert Waley-Cohen Nicky Henderson
334/3PP-421 KNIFE EDGE (USA) 11-10-00 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
PP-30U30 CONTROL MAN (IRE) 8-9-13 David Johnson Martin Pipe
P0-62515 WAIN MOUNTAIN 10-9-13 Bill Smith and Mick Dudley Jim Old
110-0BP2 PHILSON RUN (IRE) 10-9-13 Gale Force One Nick Williams
3/P-5050 MONTAYRAL (FR) 9-9-13 T Mannion Pat Hughes IRE
212226 COLJON (IRE) 8-9-12 Kay Browne Paul Nolan IRE
0/41200-0 THE LAST CAST 7-9-12 D P Barrie Paul Webber
11F-3F135 WINDSOR BOY (IRE) 9-9-12 Byrne Bros (Formwork) Limited Martin Pipe
56-46313F KORELO (FR) 8-9-11 David Johnson Martin Pipe
5111111 DUN DOIRE (IRE) 7-9-11 Dunderry Racing Syndicate Tony Martin IRE
221F1215P DUNBRODY MILLAR (IRE) 8-9-10 Dundon Else Partnership Peter Bowen
64-22340 LOU DU MOULIN MAS (FR) 7-9-10 The Eight Amigos Racing Syndicate Paul Nicholls
0-3FB124 BE MY BETTER HALF (IRE) 11-9-09 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
220-46P4 SUPREME DEVELOPER (IRE) 9-9-09 Mrs A N Durkan Ferdy Murphy
0/5/4-23F0PP HALEXY (FR) 11-9-09 Sir Robert Ogden Jonjo O'Neill
12-P32P WRAGS TO RICHES (IRE) 9-9-09 No Illusions Partnership Jimmy Frost
421111P3 WHAT A NATIVE (IRE) 10-9-08 M McKeon Charle Swan IRE
0006-P0U POLAR RED 9-9-08 Lady Clarke Martin Pipe
U-1411F6 DEAD-EYED DICK (IRE) 10-9-08 Jane Williams Nick Williams
50-6000 POINT BARROW (IRE) 8-9-08 Mrs P Clune Hughes Pat Hughes IRE
411P4P DANGEROUSDANMAGRU (IRE) 10-9-07 Noel Glynn Alan Jones
32P/22U-30 DESAILLY 12-9-07 The Team Jonathan Geake
U050-P04 BOUNCE BACK (USA) 10-9-05 Belinda Harvey Martin Pipe
20-P2F0663 STRONG RESOLVE (IRE) 10-9-05 Fair City Flyers Lucinda Russell
142P22PP BRAVE SPIRIT (FR) 8-9-04 The Con Club Colin Tizzard
20P0-PPP TURNIUM (FR) 11-9-04 Fergus Wilson Phillippe Cottin FR
266-126023 MIOCHE D'ESTRUVAL (FR) 6-9-02 Joe Moran Martin Pipe
P/0U-05P3P WORLD WIDE WEB (IRE) 10-9-02 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
P00P-FP0 ASTONVILLE (FR) 12-9-02 Fergus Wilson Phillippe Cottin FR
40224-F KING ON THE RUN (IRE) 13-9-01 Lady Harris Venetia Williams
U624P5 FIORI 10-9-00 Wilson Imports I Patrick Haslam
31/223/-110 DROMBEAG (IRE) 8-9-00 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill
232-31140 MRS BE (IRE) 10-9-00 J H Burbidge Grant Cann
56PF-P0 PRESENT BLEU (FR) 11-8-12 Judith Wilson Martin Pipe
464/U06//- OA BALDIXE (FR) 12-8-08 Kahlil Burke Kahlil Burke
3305100 CASSIA HEIGHTS 11-8-08 B Ridge & D Hewitt Steve Brookshaw
312004 TOTHEROADYOUVGONE 12-8-08 Noel Glynn Alan Jones
6-344200 PAPILLON DE IENA (FR) 6-8-08 Dakit Partnership Martin Pipe
3P/6-113210 NO RETREAT (NZ) 13-8-02 Mark & Amanda Harris John Groucott

96 entries remain after March 21 forfeit stage
19 Irish-trained
4 French-trained

The following 26 horses came out at today's forfeit stage:

2005 - 107 (68 in handicap and 40 runner cut off point is 10st 4lb)
2004 - 77 (47 in the handicap and the 40-runner cut off is presently at 10st 2lb)
2003 - 105 (56 in handicap
2002 - 83
2001- 73
2000 - 64
1999 -51

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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