Walkon with hope in National
Top jockey Wayne Hutchinson looks ahead to his ride on Walkon in the Crabbie's Grand National on Saturday.
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It's the world's greatest steeplechase, the Crabbie's Grand National, on Saturday at Aintree and I am lucky enough to be riding over the famous fences aboard a horse that will be very popular for half of Liverpool at least - Walkon.
He ran brilliantly at this meeting last year when second to Triolo D'Alene in the Topham Chase over the National fences and he is really well-in at the weights with that horse this time around.
The big question mark is obviously the trip of almost four and a half miles. But my gut reaction when I came back to unsaddle after the Topham was to come back here this year for the big one.
He has only had two runs this season but that is just the way that things have played out. He was due to run in the Becher Chase at the track back in December but was lame and had to be withdrawn at the start.
He then ran in the Denman Chase to qualify as he needed to be placed over three miles and has since been in great nick - he is in a really good place with himself at home.
He has had a normal preparation and done nothing differently in the build up. He is a real professional and been there and done it all at both Cheltenham and Aintree so I don't imagine that the occasion will get to him.
He is very classy too having won a Grade 1 over hurdles at this track and finished placed in a Paddy Power Chase so I am really looking forward to getting back on him over the big fences.
He will go on any ground as well so won't mind if it stays dry or if there is any rain overnight.
I have two earlier rides at Aintree on Saturday - Balder Succes in the Grade 1 novice chase over two miles and Our Mick for Donald McCain in the three-mile handicap chase.
The plan was to always miss the Cheltenham Festival in favour of this meeting with Balder Succes and he has been freshened up nicely since his win at Kempton.
He is back to two miles but that won't be a problem and I think that the track will suit him. He had a school last Monday and is in really good nick and I think his jumping will be an asset as the fences come up quickly down the back straight.
There should be a strong pace as well to make it a true test with Next Sensation in the line-up and he very nearly made all to win the Grand Annual last month.
It is nice to get another mount for Donald McCain this week on Our Mick in these nice races and he has been competing in a number of top handicaps like this one.
He was perhaps a bit disappointing at the Cheltenham Festival last time but I will be talking to Jason (Maguire) in the morning to get all the necessary information about him.
To wrap things up on Saturday, I am back on McCabe Creek in the closing bumper and we were all really pleased with his first outing at Newbury last month.
The better ground will suit and I really like him. The stable (Alan King) has a good record in the race with the likes of Pangbourne, Montbazon and Lidar all running well and we are double-handed again but I am delighted to stick with my lad.
I can't tell you a great deal about my two rides on Sunday at Ffos Las - Shady Glen and Titans Approach.
They are both former point-to-pointers having their first run under rules for Graeme McPherson so hopefully we can learn something about them and see where we are.
I rode a nice double last Sunday at Ascot on Simply A Legend and Manyriverstocross.
A combination of factors helped Simply A Legend in the maiden hurdle as the race was run to suit with a good gallop plus the addition of a hood for the first time.
He was slick over the hurdles and took me into the race very well so it was a case of all the pieces fitting together and being able to show what a good engine he has got.
Manyriverstocross had no problem dropping back down in trip after his run at Cheltenham and travelled well - perhaps too well - before he stuck his neck out to land a nice prize.
I think that he will be kept to two miles for the time being and is an interesting horse. They went fast and furious in the early stages so I was able to drop in but I think that more use could be made of him and he can be ridden much handier.
It was not really the plan to make the running with Ronaldinho in the juvenile handicap hurdle but there was a horse unshipped at the start of the race who was going to lead and I was left in front after he winged the first in first-time blinkers.
The loose horse pestered me also so Ronaldinho has done very well to still be there at the end and finish third so I was chuffed. We will hang on until May now but he will have no trouble winning a novice event.
So on to Aintree this week then and I thought Dispour acquitted himself well at 100/1 in the Grade 1 juvenile hurdle on Thursday.
He missed the cut for his original target of the Fred Winter at Cheltenham but is a solid horse bred by the Aga Khan and appreciated the better ground in first-time blinkers.
He jumped soundly and something like the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock might suit him.
The ground was not really soft enough for Two Rockers but Alan was keen to get a run into him as he has had a bit of a stop-start season.
They have dawdled all the way round which didn't help either but it was good to give him some match practice and some confidence and he did not have any effects from his fall at Ascot previously.
The plan had been to go chasing this season with him but we never got that far - that still remains on the horizon.