Walsh on standby for Station
Mark Walsh will partner Colbert Station if Tony McCoy opts to ride Double Seven in the Crabbie's Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.
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Of the JP McManus-owned duo, McCoy has admitted to having a slight preference for the latter, trained by Martin Brassil.
Should that be the case, Walsh, who is used regularly by McManus in Ireland, will get the leg-up aboard Colbert Station, who unseated McCoy at The Chair in last year's Grand National.
Trainer Ted Walsh: "He (Colbert Station) is all ready to go. I haven't spoken to Tony about what he's riding, though. I don't expect to speak to him until I see him at the races on Thursday and he'll have made his decision by then.
"If he picks Double Seven then Mark will be riding ours. I've no problem with that at all.
"Mark rides most of JP's horses when Tony isn't in Ireland anyway."
Owner Andy Stewart admits the National has never been a lucky race for him, but he has his best chance for some time in the Paul Nicholls-trained Rocky Creek.
"My Will finishing third to Mon Mome (2009) is the best I've ever done," he said.
"After Daryl Jacob finished second on Rocky Creek in the Hennessy and then second in the Argento he said we should be thinking of the Grand National and not the Gold Cup.
"Unfortunately for Daryl he is now injured, but we've secured Noel Fehily who is riding the crest of a wave at present.
"Rocky Creek definitely has a touch of class, just as Neptune Collonges did. It will be strange heading to Aintree without Big Buck's to cheer home this season but I hope we have another reason to be cheerful."
Tom Scudamore hopes to cap off his best ever season, which included a fantastic Cheltenham, by winning the National on The Package.
Success for the 11-year-old gelding would be an emotional one for trainer David Pipe and his team as he still runs in the colours of the late David Johnson, who gave the Pond House handler a National winner with Comply Or Die back in 2008.
The Package ran in the race four years ago when he unseated Graham Lee at the 19th fence.
"Obviously the fences are different and while they still take some jumping, I see no reason why he can't cope with it," Scudamore told At The Races.
"Obviously you don't get another chance to run over four and a half miles but when I rode him in the Hennessy (2012, fourth) he was going better and better the further we went. I've always thought a marathon trip would hold no fear. He was able to compete at Cheltenham off his mark and I think he's got a live chance."
The going on the National course has been changed to good to soft, good in places, though heavy rain has been forecast.
Andy Bates, racing manager for owners WRB Racing, hopes Golan Way can roll back the years when he becomes the syndicate's first runner in the National.
The Tim Vaughan-trained 10-year-old was a smart performer for trainer Sheena West a few seasons ago, winning the Grade Two Sharp Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in November 2008, as well as the Listed Future Stars Chase over fences at Sandown in December 2011.
The son of Golan has somce been restricted to only seven starts after developing a problem with a splint but, now in the care of Vaughan at his Glamorgan base, Golan Way bounced back to form in a hunters' chase at Warwick last time out.
"He's come out of the Warwick race in really good shape and we're hopeful he can run a big race in the National," said Bates.
"Golan Way has been an absolute star for us throughout the years and we've always thought that this sort of marathon trip could just suit him down to the ground.
"He's got some really good form in the book, albeit a few seasons ago. Since going jumping, he's actually won on his third outing every season and, given that he's had two starts already this season, we're hoping that this record is intact on Saturday evening."
John Provan, owner of Pineau De Re, is hoping a long-standing friendship with trainer Dr Richard Newland can result in a victory on the biggest stage of them all.
Originally from Glasgow, Provan moved to Derbyshire in the 1980s and is a former amateur Flat jockey who had several rides, including against the Princess Royal, having worked for trainers Tommy Taylor and John Mackie.
Although Provan now runs a print and packaging business, racing is still his passion.
His company, Printcut Boxfast, sponsors Newland's yard and he also sponsors several of the horses in the stable.
Provan said: "Neither of us make a habit of buying a seemingly exposed 10-year-old but we were impressed when we saw him win the Ulster National and, when we saw that he was due to go through the sales ring, we managed to do a deal with his former owner.
"We saw a window of opportunity with him as we didn't think he was as exposed as his age suggests and Richard has done a marvellous job of improving him since.
"He was very much bought with Aintree in mind and his form this year suggests we've got a live chance."