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Life at H&H: Brilliant Big Buck’s and Aintree anticipation

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The main topic of conversation in the H&H office this week has been Aintree. While a few lucky H&H staffers headed up to Liverpool on Thursday (see the Horse & Hound facebook page for a photo of H&H news writer Amy Mathieson standing beside The Chair) to see the awesome Big Buck’s collect an incredible 17th victory in a row, those of us left in the office gathered around a couple of computers to watch the race via the BBC Sport website.

Of course the result was never in doubt as the long-distance hurdler cruised round leaving his rivals in his wake when powering up the home straight. There was no last-minute burst of speed from the 16.3hh gelding — there was simply no need to as his cruising pace is so fast and his stamina so deep that those racing against him simply fell away.

A few weeks ago Horse & Hound enjoyed the unique chance to ‘get up close and personal’ with the champion — and his stable companions the great Kauto Star and Denman — when we visited Paul Nicholls’ yard for the latest edition of our exclusive series “Lucinda rides“. You can find out what Lucinda thought of this fabulous horse, and watch a video of them in action via your smartphone, in the current magazine (12 April, 2012).

As you might expect, there has been much debate about who each of us are going to back in the big race on Saturday. The H&H form guide (p28-29) has been pored over at length, although there may be more to choosing your horse based on the jockey’s silks than previously believed! The Grand National is a unique challenge, which rarely fails to produce a great story. After the controversy of last year’s race, I am keeping my fingers crossed this year’s race is great for all the right reasons.

Can Synchronised become the first horse since 1934 to do the Cheltenham Gold Cup-Grand National double? Will Ballabriggs become one of just a handful of horses to win the great race back-to-back? Or will girl power finally triumph with a win for either Nina Carberry or Katie Walsh? And most important of all — who will be buying press-day cakes for everyone on Monday with their winnings?!

Of course, win or lose, our primary hope is that all horses and jockeys will return from the ultimate steeplechase fit and healthy to race another day. Good luck and God speed to you all.