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McNamara hoping for Concorde ride

Robbie McNamara has his fingers crossed Majestic Concorde will be his first ride in the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

Trainer Dermot Weld has yet to confirm the versatile eight-year-old for the big race, but the talented amateur, whose brother, Andrew, has been booked for James Motherway's Bluesea Cracker, cannot help but look forward to the weekend.

McNamara said: "Mr Weld hasn't confirmed him a definite runner yet, but I think he is likely to run. He's a 100-plus rated horse on the Flat - he won the GPT Galway Handicap and was fourth in the Chester Cup."

He added: "He won the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown off top weight, that was his last run. He's a horse that runs best fresh. I schooled him last week over two Grand National fences at the Curragh and he jumped super.

"He's a great attitude and he stays well. He has plenty of class for it and fingers crossed with a bit of luck you never know what could happen."

Quinz has 9lb in hand on future handicap marks because of his victory in the Racing Post Chase and his trainer Philip Hobbs is just hoping for a clear round at the weekend.

The handler told At The Races: "It's all gone perfectly since the Racing Post Chase. He's in really good form, I gave him a bit of an easy time afterwards as he wasn't going to run again before the National. He had his last serious bit of work this morning and went well. Richard Johnson will school him tomorrow morning."

Harry Skelton had his first ride in the National on Niche Market last year, in which the 10-year-old was pulled up, and teams up with him on the track for the first time since then. Skelton won the Irish National and the BGC Silver Cup at Ascot on the gelding when he was with Bob Buckler. Niche Market is now with champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

Skelton said: "I've had two wins already on him and hopefully try to make it a third on Saturday. He was travelling really well last year until a few before Becher's then he emptied, which was uncharacteristic for him. We found he had got a very bad cut behind and had to have seven stitches and five or six weeks of box rest.

"It was quite a nasty cut so that probably had something to do with it. Paul's (Nicholls) idea was to run over two and a half miles last time to sharpen him up mentally, make sure he was alert and ready for what it is to come on Saturday. Hopefully it will have put him spot-on."


From Belfast Telegraph