‘A complete underdog story’: meet highly fancied Grand National runner Corach Rambler

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  • A long-time Randox Grand National favourite for the 2023 race is the charismatic gelding, Corach Rambler. The nine-year-old is trained in Kinross, Scotland, by Lucinda Russell and is ridden out at home by her partner, retired eight-time champion jockey Peter Scudamore and is the apple of Peter’s eye.

    Lucinda is no stranger to success in the Grand National, having won in 2017 with the popular One For Arthur – Scotland’s first winner since Rubstic in 1979 – with Derek Fox in the saddle. Derek also hopes to take the reins on the nine-year-old Corach Rambler in this year’s race despite suffering a shoulder injury in a fall last week.

    Corach Rambler had his first start under Rules for Lucinda over two years ago and quickly made a big impression, winning twice over hurdles before switching to fences that autumn. The gelding has since gone from strength to strength and comes to this year’s Randox Grand National off the back of an eye-catching victory in the three mile and a furlong Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, repeating his success of the previous year. As a result, he was then made favourite for the mile-longer Grand National, a race in which favourites have had a good record in recent years.

    “The horse means so much and everyone knows that,” says Lucinda.

    Speaking on the The Horse & Hound Podcast, Peter, who rides Corach Rambler out at home, says: “He takes me for a ride most days. The most dangerous part of being involved with Corach Rambler is tacking him up.”

    Lucinda elaborates: “You put the bridle on, turn round to put the saddle on and he just walks off, wanders off down the line of stables, trit trot, trit trot.”

    The Princess Royal, right, with Corach Rambler, after the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

    “Corach Rambler is smart, funny and he takes on cyclists on the road!”

    Peter’s grandchildren have all sat on Corach Rambler and his striking face markings make him a real eye-catcher.

    “He is an extraordinary character, you can see in everything about him,” he says. “Is he more of a character than any other? I don’t know.

    “You never know about the fences at Aintree until they do it, but my undoubted belief is that he’s got all the talent and his style of racing would suit him in an ‘Arthur’ [One For Arthur] type of National. There’s part of me saying that we were so lucky to win it once, that could we ever deserve it again and I take nothing for granted. I have utmost belief that he can do it, but whether he will be able to is another thing.

    “I look at Arthur’s National and you’d think he’d have to have a chance. We went to Liverpool though for the weights announcement last month and when you start to look at the list you realise just how tough a race it is.

    “I think to myself ‘why do I love that horse at 64 years of age’ and it’s because the horse instills it into you. He’s a funny horse, if you watch him up the gallops he’ll do his work and then he turns around and wants to go home!

    “I enjoy all of the attributes that Corach has, and I’d love to see that in a human being – he’s smart, he’s funny and he takes on cyclists on the road!”

    Lucinda adds: “It’s funny having a favourite. If the bookies make your horse favourite, you’ve done your job. It just reaffirms we might have him in the right race.”

    Grand National favourite Corach Rambler's connections at the Cheltenham Festival

     “I think he’ll run a massive race in the Grand National”, says jockey Derek Fox

    Jockey Derek Fox, who Peter describes as having an “innate sense of a horse”, says it’s a pleasure to ride Corach Rambler.

    “I feel very lucky to be riding him as he is a very talented horse,” he says. “Thanks to Lucinda and ‘Scu’ for giving me these opportunities. I’m really looking forward to the Grand National now. He stays well and I think he will run a massive race in that.

    “He’s a marvellous horse, the yard favourite really. He’s the horse of a lifetime. I can’t believe it.”

    Corach is owned by an enthusiastic seven-strong syndicate named “The Ramblers”, one of whom is travelling over from Australia to watch his horse in action.

    “They’re a syndicate of seven people and some of them had never had a horse before. They’re so together and it’s lovely and it meant a lot,” says Lucinda.

    While most of us can only dream of having a runner in the Randox Grand National, 21-year-old student Cameron Sword has struck gold with Corach, his very first horse.

    “I remember watching the Grand National and was just fascinated by it. I remember then learning how to study the form and things like that as well as the breeding side of racing,” says Cameron, who is in his third year studying business at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and only started watching racing properly during lockdown.

    “For me it’s always been the Grand National, I know for some people the Gold Cup is their great love, but I just love Aintree.

    Corach Rambler: a £17,000 purchase and long-time Grand National favourite

    “Lucinda and Scu, along with their bloodstock agent Paul McIvor, bought Corach for £17,000 and Lucinda set the syndicate up on the back of that,” continues Cameron. “There’s four of us in Scotland, one in Ireland, one in London and one in Australia. The age range goes from me to boys in their late fifties and early sixties, so it’s a nice mix.

    “None of us knew each other before Corach, but as we started to go to races we started to become friends. We all know each other well now and we’ve shared some really special moments together, which I think build that bond more.”

    Of his tilt at the world famous steeplechase, Cameron says: “It’s a complete underdog story and it always has been. Winning the Ultima the first time at Cheltenham was amazing itself, but to go back there and do it again and now be favourite for the Grand National is just a dream for all of us.

    “It’s my first horse, but some of these guys have had a few horses in the past and have never experienced anything like this before – so it just opens my eyes to how lucky I’ve been.

    “My family have previously had a Royal Ascot runner on the Flat years ago and after that haven’t had anything. They weren’t really involved but once my involvement with Corach started and my racing obsession has grown they’ve got back into it. They went to the Punchestown sales last year and picked up a really expensive horse and I think my mum is quite jealous that she’s spent all this money and Corach who cost 17 grand is the Grand National favourite!

    “I was sitting down with Scu though and we were looking at all the angles of the race and this horse just ticks every single box. He’s 10lbs well-in at the weights, he’s got the stamina and he’s a good jumper, touch wood – so he should be there or thereabouts.

    “The horse has given us absolutely everything,” says Cameron, who admits to screaming at the top of his lungs, cheering Corach home. “He’s won over £200,000 in prize money and he owes us nothing, but it’s having that dream of winning the Grand National which is so special.”

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