Grand National at Aintree Racecourse

The Road To Aintree - Grand National Hopefuls

Neil King plans to head onto the Grand National now after Milansbar produced a superb front-running display under Bryony Frost in the Classic Chase at Warwick last Saturday.

One week ago, King’s veteran chaser could only manage 2½ miles in the re-scheduled Welsh Grand National before unseating his rider.

Wearing blinkers for the first time, the eleven-year-old raced from the front throughout and Frost had her rivals struggling behind her a long way from home, scoring eventually by a comfortable 11 lengths.

Neil King told PA Sport: "That was the real Milansbar today and it was so great to see.

"Two years ago we were thinking he could develop into a Grand National horse. He ran a great race to finish second under top-weight in the Midlands National, but then last season he just wasn't right at all.

"This year we felt we'd got him back and we went to the Welsh National last week with great expectations. Unfortunately, as they tend to do in that race, they went very quickly to the first bend and he got swamped and rather threw his toys out of the pram.

"I wondered whether the race today might be a bit hot for him, but we tried him in the blinkers during the week and he was pretty electric. They certainly seem to have done the trick.

"It was Bryony's first ride for me. The owner was quite keen to claim off him and she's given him a great ride."

It would not be the first time that a horse had tasted success in the Classic Chase then went on to Aintree glory in the same season. One For Arthur won this race before securing the Grand National and Milansbar is priced up at 40/1 to do just that with us here at 888sport.

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King added: "I think we'll enjoy today, get him home and see how he is and see what the handicapper does.

"If he goes up enough to get into the National, which hopefully he will do, I think we'll probably go straight there, but we'll see.

"One For Arthur won this race off quite a low mark last year, so if we can follow the same route we'll be very happy indeed."

Conditional jockey Bryony Frost, one of the success stories of the season, would dearly love to emulate her father Jimmy Frost, who won the Grand National back in 1989 on Little Polveir.

She said on Milansbar: "He was awesome. God, he jumped.

"I was really looking forward to riding him. He's an 11-year-old, but he doesn't know that.

"He was a bit brave at one down the back, but I thought 'OK, if you want to go brave, let's go brave'.

"I got a lovely breather in on the home bend and asked him to go in the straight and he just never stopped. I didn't even have to pick my stick up."

Speaking to ITV Racing she said: "I'm really lucky. Dave Roberts (agent) and everyone behind me are working really hard to get me on horses like this.

"I love my job. It's the best world to be in."

 

Veterans Making Their Mark

Ground conditions will be key in deciding whether recent Welsh Grand National winner Raz De Maree will line up in the English equivalent in April.

Gavin Cromwell's 13-year-old went one better than last year under a polished performance from his 16-year-old rider James Bowen.

Raz De Maree is the oldest horse since before the war to win the Welsh National, with Bowen the youngest rider, and Cromwell reported his horse to be in rude health after arriving back home in Ireland.

"It was a great result and a fantastic day. He'd had a good preparation and I was hopeful going into the race that he hadn't lost any of his enthusiasm.

"If it wasn't for the statistics and people saying a 13-year-old couldn't win it, I would have been even more hopeful and it was great it all came together on the day."

Raz De Maree is a 33-1 shot to take the spoils on Merseyside.

He was eighth in 2014 when trained by the late Dessie Hughes and unseated his rider at Becher's Brook last season.

He will be bidding to make it third time lucky but only if testing conditions prevail come along that April weekend.

Cromwell added: "There's the Irish National, the Midlands National and the English National. He'll run in one of those all being well and won't run again beforehand.

"The problem we've got is the English National is the last of the three and there could be a danger that we wait for that and then the ground comes up good and we'd regret it.

"It won't be an easy decision and we'll just have to see how things stand nearer the time.

"He was unlucky in Aintree last year as he sidestepped a faller and unseated his rider and he has jumped round there before."

 

Wise Decision

Buywise emerged as a live Grand National contender last week after he was victorious in the Veterans' Final at Sandown.

The 11-year-old who was ridden by Leighton Aspell stormed past the game Pete The Feat to take the £100,000 first prize. His trainer Evan Williams has now set his sights on Aintree with Buywise, who finished 12th two years ago and is available to back at 50/1.

"I never thought we’d try again but he’s a bit older and stays better," said Williams. "I was going to swerve everything with him but we’ve got to have a crack at Aintree now.

"After the way he jumped and stayed at Sandown I thought, 'For god's sake stop messing around and just go for the Grand National.' It's a shot to nothing really."

Buywise who was without a win in three years convinced his owner Hywel Jones to give him another chance in the big one this April.

Jones said: "Leighton has won the Grand National twice. He knows what it takes and he thinks Buywise could be the right type."

Check out our latest Grand National betting markets here.

 

*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*