Cross makes waves for Dartnall
Giles Cross has been warming up for his defence of Saturday's Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock with some seaside exercise.
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Victor Dartnall's stayer, one of 14 declared for the Grade Three marathon, narrowly beat subsequent National winner Neptune Collonges 12 months ago.
He was taken this week to Woolacombe Bay, where Dartnall has regularly taken his horses to work but was recently threatened with legal action by the beach's owners.
"It's through the kindness of some locals in North Devon that we've been able to return to the beach and Giles Cross in particular loves it," said Barnstaple-based Dartnall.
"We took him down over the sand dunes and across the beach and he had a kick and a buck and a play.
"He finds it really exciting."
Giles Cross was subsequently pulled up at Aintree and in the Welsh National on his return.
Lining up in opposition is top-weight Silver By Nature, winner of the race in both 2010 and 2011, but Lucinda Russell's grey has been sidelined since that year's National.
Monbeg Dude - the mount of Tom Scudamore - and Teaforthree, who fought out a titanic Welsh National finish, have both been declared for a rematch, along with ante-post favourite and Classic Chase winner Rigadin De Beauchene and an interesting runner for in-form Gary Moore in Well Refreshed.
Monbeg Dude's trainer Michael Scudamore is delighted to have his brother back on board.
However, he did admit to approaching the subject tactfully after having stated Paul Carberry would have been first choice after being in the saddle at Chepstow.
"I had a very careful chat with Tom. Paul would probably have been the first choice, but I think Noel Meade wants him over in Ireland on Saturday, so that wasn't to be," the Herefordshire handler told At The Races.
"Luckily, it looks like Tom will be available.
"He's a really good substitute so we're looking forward to it."