Horse racing

Russell and Corach Rambler seeking National glory

Lucinda Russell
Lucinda Russell is seeking a special place in the Grand National history books

Corach Rambler, the Scotland-based winner of last year’s Grand National, is hoping to join an elite list by repeating the feat today and making history for trainer Lucinda Russell.

Trained at Kinross, Corach Rambler lines up in a reduced maximum field of 34 runners, down from 40 following a safety review of the Aintree course, and is bidding to become only the second horse after Tiger Roll to win back-to-back Nationals since Red Rum in the 1970s.

Russell also trained One for Arthur who won the race in 2017 and victory today would make her the Grand National’s most successful female trainer.

However, the meeting was overshadowed by the fatal injuries to two horses. Giovinco – a stablemate of Corach Rambler – was put down after a fall at the final fence in the opening Mildmay Novices’ Chase, while Pikar, trained by Dan Skelton, suffered a similar fate in the Alder Hey Handicap Hurdle.

Scottish National winner Kitty’s Light will bid to be the first Welsh-trained victor of the Grand National since Kirkland in 1905, for trainer Christian Williams, whose young daughter Betsy is being treated for leukaemia.

As well as reducing the line-up – down to 32 after two non-runners were declared – the start time has been brought the National forward an hour and 15 minutes to 4pm to reduce the build-up and provide safer ground for runners in case of drying conditions. A standing start has been reintroduced and there will be a shorter run to the first fence to slow horses down.

The field is dominated by 26 Ireland-trained runners, with eight each for Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins.

The latter has a number of fancied entries, including I Am Maximus and Meetingofthewaters, owned by JP McManus who has already had a number of winners at this week’s meeting.

Irish trainers have developed a grip on National Hunt races, winning 18 of the 27 contests at the Cheltenham Festival and prompting concerns in the British Horseracing Authority whose chief executive Julie Harrington said the domination was “damaging” the sport.

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