In his exclusive column, the Irish jump jockey and Betway ambassador gives a detailed insight into his chosen ride for the Grand National
It’s all about getting over the first fence…
My earliest memory of the Grand National wouldn’t be as far back as people think as I’m still really only a nipper.
I guess it would be the giant Party Politics winning in 1992. I remember him grinding his way to victory against the tiny Romany King.
The race is so unique and unlike any other.
It is one of the only races we jockeys ride in when we genuinely don’t line up thinking we are going to win.
It’s all about getting over the first, then the second, the third and so on.
The race really only begins once you cross the Melling Road for the second time.
That’s when you start to think about potentially winning the race.
I’m really looking forward to riding Morning Assembly in the Grand National (5.15pm) this year for Pat Fahy.
He ran a nice trial for this when finishing fourth in the Ultima Handicap on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival and brings some of the best form to the table.
He finished third in the RSA Chase a couple of years ago and went on to finish in the same position at Punchestown the following month as well.
The big question mark with him, and for the majority of others, is whether or not he stays this marathon four-and-a-quarter mile trip.
I suppose we won’t know for sure until we try and I certainly won’t be riding him as if there are stamina doubts.
He will either stay or he won’t and you have to ride them positively over these unique fences.
They have to be kept on the bridle for as long as possible and I’m hoping I can settle him into a nice rhythm.
If there is one little niggling concern I have with him, it’s that he can sometimes be a little careful at his fences and that can be a worry around here.
Here’s hoping that he will love the challenge and every little drop of rain that falls will only help his chances.
As for the dangers, a case can be made for virtually all of the other 39, but I’d be particularly worried about last year’s winner Many Clouds, Shutthefrontdoor and The Druids Nephew.
Others to look out for
Looking at the other races tomorrow there are three very short-priced favourites who are practically impossible to oppose.
Willie Mullins’ Yorkhill looks a certainty in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (2.25pm).
He was breath-taking at Cheltenham and should take this with the minimum of fuss.
The same has to be said about Douvan in the Maghull Novices’ Chase (3.00pm) with the dangers being the fences in front of him rather than the opposition.
As for Thistlecrack in the Liverpool Stayers’ Hurdle (3.40pm), he is right up there with the very best staying hurdlers that I’ve ever seen.
His performance at Cheltenham was staggering and if he turns up in the same mood he’ll win again.