National duo excite Hughes
Dessie Hughes feels Vic Venturi and In Compliance are ready to do themselves justice in the John Smith's Grand National on Saturday.
The experienced duo competed over the Aintree fences 12 months ago, with Vic Venturi having unseated his rider when prominent in the National. He had won the Becher Chase the previous autumn. In Compliance, meanwhile, shaped with promise when sixth in the Topham Chase 12 months ago.
Hughes told the Independent: "Vic Venturi was going well when he was brought down last year and has been trained for nothing else but this since. We ran him at the Maze (Down Royal) five weeks ago and he ran well enough on the heavy ground, as he'd want it good."
He added: "In Compliance is definitely on a fair mark, if he found his form. He was unlucky the last day (having unseated his rider at Cork) but he had won nicely at Thurles the time before and has experience of the course from the Topham last year.
"He does look nicely in, with 10st 5lb. They're not young horses, but it's no race for a young horse. You want them to be 10, at least."
Vic Venturi will be ridden by Andrew Lynch, while Leighton Aspell steps into the plate aboard In Compliance.
Jockey Denis O'Regan was second 12 months ago on Black Apalachi and this time rides King Fontaine for Malcolm Jefferson. The 12-year-old carries the colours of Trevor Hemmings, successful with Hedgehunter in 2005.
O'Regan said: "He ran a blinder at Cheltenham, finishing fifth in the Spinal Research Chase and staying on all the way. He has the right profile for the race and will love the ground. Obviously you need a lot of luck just to get round.
"He pulled up in the Grand National Trial at Haydock but it was on bottomless ground. He's definitely a horse that goes better on better ground. Malcolm is very keen on his chances and I'm hoping for a good spin. With 10st 6lb he's unexposed, so I'm hoping he can run a good race, that he'll get round first and hopefully he'll go well off his light weight."