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Alliance’s victory would be a Dream come true

There is a often a compelling story behind the winner of the John Smith's Grand National, but Dream Alliance's journey would take some beating should he strike gold at Aintree today.

The Philip Hobbs-trained nine-year-old, born on a disused allotment on an old slag-heap in Cefn Fforest, was bred by an old breeder of racing pigeons.

His career looked as though it was going to be cut short, however, after he sustained a tendon injury at Aintree in April 2008.

But, following pioneering stem-cell surgery, Dream Alliance performed a Lazarus-like comeback to win this season's Welsh Grand National.

Hobbs' gelding is owned by the Alliance Partnership, a 22-strong syndicate which was formed by a group of members from a Gwent Valleys social club.

Dream Alliance's return to the big time has also aroused the interest of Hollywood, with connections having signed a one-year exclusivity deal with a Los Angeles-based film company.

“It would obviously be a fairytale for the owners, and the horse seems in very good form,” said Hobbs. “We were obviously disappointed with his last run at Haydock, but he sometimes isn't the most consistent and has done similar things before.”

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Paul Nicholls (pictured) will bid to right one of the very few wrongs on his otherwise-glittering CV when he saddles four runners.

Leading the Ditcheat attack this year is Big Fella Thanks, the selected mount of rider Ruby Walsh.

Nicholls said: “He ran as a seven-year-old and a novice last year, finishing sixth, but he's a lot stronger this year.”

Tricky Trickster had looked likely to be the stable number one after winning the Aon Chase, but was a major flop in the Gold Cup.

Owner David Johnson believes ground conditions should be ideal for his two David Pipe-trained contenders, 2008 winner Comply Or Die and young pretender The Package.

Johnson said: “Comply Or Die looks a million dollars and all roads have led to Aintree all year, so he's had a light campaign.

“The Package is the new kid on the block — you have to go back to the 1940s since a seven-year-old won — but the record is there to be broken.”

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