Written by Daniel James Parry
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n the 9th April, The Crabbie’s Grand National gallops towards its natural home at the prestigious Aintree Racecourse. Past winners of this iconic British event have cemented their legacies in the history books in honour of their monumental victories, including last year’s winner Many Clouds, a horse trained by Oliver Sherwood, who strode to victory jockeyed by Leighton Aspell in the 2015 National.
As the race of races approaches, there’s one feud on the lips of riders and equestrian fanatics alike; the reigning, defending champion Paul Nicholls, a man who has won the title 9 times in the past decade, feels the breath of Irish professional race horse trainer, Willy Mullins, breathing down his neck, eyeing up his championship.
Mullins recently set the bookies alight at the recent Cheltenham Festival, bringing over an army of his finest horses for the event, undeniably pathing a road to the final, falling short in The Gold Cup race to the victor, Don Cossack. For The Grand National, word crept out that Mullins would be bringing the biggest guns in his arsenal to the race, sights locked on victory this time. Amongst these are Annie Power, Vautor and Douvan, two of his winners at Cheltenham Festival, alongside Nichols Canyon, Black Hercules and a variety of others.
Speaking to The Guardian, Mullins commented “We’ll be bringing a lot of our horses to Aintree. If they all appear to be fine, they will run”, which no doubt spells trouble for rival Nicholls.
In preparation for Aintree, Nicholls has dressed his schooling fences in spruce to make them similar in appearance to those utilized in The Grand National. He’s been schooling four of his National contenders, with the exceptions of Rocky Creek, a familiar face at Aintree and Wonderful Charm.
Speaking about his participation to The Guardian, Nicholls commented, “We’ll have plenty of good chances, like we did at Cheltenham, we’ve just not got those Grade One horses for the really top races. But there’s a lot of prize money to come, at places like Perth and Ayr and Sandown. A lot could happen.”
Discussing his training regime, Nicholls added, “They’re all capable of running tidy races. Silviniaco Conti’s my number one, he’s a proper Grade One horse.”
Silviniaco Conti will be ridden by Noel Fehily, while Wonderful Charm will be under the careful guidance of Sam Twiston-Davies.
Let the show begin.
Find out more about The Grand National 2016 at: