Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Willie Mullins has big shout in first £1m Grand National

The men responsible for four of the last five Irish-trained winners of the Aintree Grand National figure prominently among the entries for the inaugural race under the Crabbie's banner.

This will be the first time the famous race has hit the £1million prizemoney mark.

Alterations to the course have prompted a surge in initial entries, with the total of 115 – the highest at this stage since 2009 – up 31 on last year.

Last week's decisive Thyestes Chase victor On His Own, a faller in each of the last two Grand Nationals, is among an eight-strong Willie Mullins contingent that does not include the French import Rubi Ball – a big mover in the Cheltenham Gold Cup market yesterday, with odds slashed to 16/1 from 25/1.

The nine-year-old had looked a likely sort to bid to emulate Hedgehunter's 2005 win for Mullins.

Last year's Irish Grand National runner-up Away We Go, the Paddy Power Chase winner Rockyaboya, Prince De Beauchene and Boston Bob are among his potential starters for a race that was won by six Irish horses in nine years up to 2007.

Gordon Elliott's Silver Birch was the latest to achieve glory and the Co Meath handler has entered Roi Du Mee, Tarquinius, Toner D'Oudairies and Romanesco this time around.

Ted Walsh, successful with Papillion in 2000, has put in Seabass – a game third for his daughter Katie in 2012 – and JP McManus' Colbert Station.

Aurora's Encore, a shock 66/1 hero in 2013 under Ryan Mania, was retired by his trainer Sue Smith this week after fracturing a bone in his leg.

Martin Brassil, successful with Numbersixvalverde in 2006, has entered the McManus-owned Double Seven, an eight-year-old with five straight wins to October.

Brassil said of the 33/1 shot: "Double Seven has a rating that means he will be running in either a Crabbie's Grand National or an Irish Grand National.

"It's an obvious entry to make for a horse rated 146.

"Double Seven is a grand jumper," added the Kildare-based handler.

The weights will be revealed in London on February 11.

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