It’s the Crabbie’s Grand National this Saturday, and like everyone in racing I’m excited about being at Aintree.
I’m very lucky to have picked up a good ride in Spring Heeled (pictured top) and I’m hopeful that he has a realistic chance. He ticks all the right boxes in what you want in a Grand National horse and it helps that he carries under 11st.
I went over to Ireland to trainer Jim Culloty’s yard to school Spring Heeled on Good Friday and he seemed in good order so I’m looking forward to the race.
He’s a sound jumper and should appreciate the drying ground too.
It’s a real quality field this year so you’ll need a good run round. Horses I also think have a good chance include Rocky Creek, as he’s been aimed at the race, while The Druids Nephew won well at Cheltenham. There’s also a Gold Cup winner — Lord Windermere — in the line up, so it’s a strong race.
If AP McCoy wins the public will go mad! He’s going to be riding Shutthefrontdoor, who’ll go off favourite, but there’s good reason for that despite the fact AP is riding him. It would be great for racing for AP to win on his final ride in the race.
With the world’s most famous horserace taking place this weekend (Saturday, 8 April), familiar faces from the horseworld give you…
The world-famous race
The Grand National is unlike any other race. You need a horse that can jump and stay, but you also need a lot of luck — 4m4f and 30 fences is challenging.
As a jockey when you’re preparing for your race, you can’t really have a definite plan. Of course you’ll need to have an idea of the position you want to be in and who you don’t want to be following, but you really just have to take it as it comes.
There’s 40 runners so it’s a much bigger field than normal too. You can’t just think about your own horse, you have to be aware of what the other 39 around you are doing too. The start is important, you need to jump off well and you don’t want to be stuck behind a bad jumper!
The fences have been made much safer and softer now too, plus the drops have been levelled off so it’s a much more horse-friendly race. But they’re still some challenge.
Of course there’s some pressure when you’re riding in the race and you wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t get a bit nervous beforehand. But it’s excitement as much as anything. Millions of people watch it and it’s the race I’ve always wanted to win since I was a kid. The atmosphere is really fun at Aintree too.
Before the race I’ll chill out in the weighing room, read the paper, chat to my friends and I’ll walk the course. I’ve ridden in it a few times now so I know what to expect, but I’ll still be very excited come Saturday morning,
Best of luck to everyone involved and I hope everyone enjoys watching.