Only 31 of the 85 entries in the Grand National are trained in Britain, leaving Corach Rambler to lead the depleted field

 

Only 31 of the 85 entries in the Grand National are trained in Britain, leaving Corach Rambler to lead the depleted field.

Corach Rambler, a winner of the Cheltenham Festival, is on track to lead a depleted British field for the Randox Grand National. He is one of only 31 home-based candidates out of 85 initial entries, most of which are Irish-trained horses.

Gordon Elliott, a trainer who has won three times, has a remarkable 21 entries, and Noble Yeats, trained by Emmet Mullins, is a best-priced 12-1 favorite to win again in 2022.

Corach Rambler, who won the festival’s Ultima Handicap Chase last year, appears to be returning to Cheltenham before entering the National. He is a best-priced 20-1 selection, making him the leading British-trained candidate alongside Iwilldoit, who won the Welsh National and Classic Chase.

The nine-year-old colt trained by Lucinda Russell is entered in both the Betfair Denman Chase on Saturday at Newbury and the Betfred Grand National Trial on Sunday at Haydock.

However, Peter Scudamore, Russell’s partner and assistant, stated that they would prefer to wait until the National weights were announced on February 21 before traveling to Cheltenham.

“We’ve dithered over it but I think he has a fair mark of 146 and I don’t want it to go up or down,” said Scudamore. “Lucinda and Derek [Fox, stable jockey] think the Haydock race is quite hard on them close to the National and the ground looks to be fast at Newbury so I think he’ll go to Cheltenham for the Ultima.

“He’s 6lb higher than last year and then from there he’d go to Aintree. You don’t win a National without thinking about it and when we won [in 2017] with One For Arthur, we had to get him up in the weights. Once we’d done that we left him. Corach Rambler has a realistic mark and we don’t want to mess it about really.”

Any Second Now, Delta Work, Fiddlerontheroof, and Longhouse Poet, along with Noble Yeats at the entry stage, could all make a comeback to Aintree this year.

Only 19 of the British entries are rated at 142 or higher, which is the lowest mark in three of the last five Nationals. Irish trainers saddled 21 of the 40 runners in the race last season, and the disparity appears to be set to grow this season. In the event that the race were to be held as a more formal renewal than it was in 2021, when a rating of 145 was required to be run, that rating would only be 14.

However, when asked if British trainers should be more ambitious when entering horses for the National, Scudamore was philosophical.

“The reason I want to go to Cheltenham, the reason I want to go to Aintree, is that I want to take on the best,” said Scudamore. “Willie Mullins is the best at the moment but it’s hard for me to criticise him because I was with Martin Pipe and we dominated.

“The world evolves. When I first started it was hard to win because it was Fred Winter and Fred Rimell, then Yorkshire won everything, then it swung to Martin.”

Scudamore added: “I don’t like the criticism, they’re the best horses running. I want to see the best against the best and at the moment the Irish have them and they deserve to be in the race.

“They’re better than us at the moment, we’ve got to pick our arses up and do something about it. With ‘Arthur’ everything went right and with Corach Rambler, I don’t know. But if you don’t plan for it you can be sure the Irish will.”

The shift in the distribution of training facilities for the relevant segment of the population could account for the decline in British applicants.

The home team’s roster largely omits two British-trained horse owners who have historically targeted the National. The sole entry, Cloudy Glen, trained by Venetia Williams, embodies the colors of the late Trevor Hemmings.

Additionally, only Sporting John for the Philip Hobbs yard is trained in Britain, out of the seven tickets that JP McManus currently holds. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that trainer Jonjo O’Neill won’t have a horse for the second time since 2003 due to the changes in their circumstances.

Additionally, David Pipe, Paul Nicholls, and Nigel Twiston-Davies, three trainers who have a long history of success in the staying chaser division, each have only one entry.

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