Merseyside Police have reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring safety and security at the upcoming Grand National day at Aintree, following reports of potential protests by activists. According to the Mail on Sunday, over 100 activists are planning to storm security fences at the racecourse and form a human barricade across the National course. It was reported that the ringleaders of the planned protest had visited the racecourse twice to identify potential security weaknesses.
Merseyside Police stated that they have a robust policing plan in place for the event, in collaboration with partners including The Jockey Club. They respect the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression, but will not tolerate any public order or criminal offences, which will be dealt with firmly.
A spokesperson for Merseyside Police said: “Merseyside Police has a robust policing plan in place for Aintree, as it does for any major public event, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved.
“We have been working with our partners, including The Jockey Club, for a number of months in the build up to this year’s festival to ensure that any necessary plans and processes are in place to deal with any incidents that may arise and to prevent any significant or ongoing disruption to racegoers and local residents and businesses.
“We respect the right to peaceful protest and expression of views, but public order or criminal offences will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly.”
There have been previous incidents of protests at racing events, including six activists who ran onto the track at Epsom before the Derby in 2022, and four climate-change protesters who chained themselves to the rail at Royal Ascot in 2021.
In 1993, the National was declared void after protestors entered the track near the first fence, leading to delays and two false starts before the race was finally run. In 1997, the race was postponed by two days due to a bomb threat, but Lord Gyllene won the rescheduled contest.
“We’ve just run out of time”: Clan Des Obeaux will not run this season, but there is still an Aintree option for the Bravemansgame.
Clan Des Obeaux has been ruled out for the rest of the season by Paul Nicholls, but Britain’s champion trainer has said that Gold Cup second Bravemansgame could run at either Punchestown or Aintree.
Although Nicholls has a potential strong replacement for Clan Des Obeaux in Bravemansgame, the horse that has won the previous two Bowls at Aintree will not be ready in time to compete for a third victory in the Grade 1 next month.
The King George winner was brave in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, where he finished seven lengths behind Galopin Des Champs, who jumped the last in tandem with the winner.
Nicholls will not let the presence of Bravemansgame’s Cheltenham conqueror influence his decision if Punchestown is deemed a better fit for him, despite his desire to avoid a rematch with Galopin Des Champs this spring.
“Clan Des Obeaux won’t make it to Aintree; we’ve just run out of time,” said Nicholls. “He’s had a few warning lights flashing, so we’re going to leave him until next season, and now everyone has jumped on the bandwagon of ‘Bravemansgame is going to run now’. Bravemansgame has an option of that or Punchestown, either option is open to us.
“The most important thing is to make sure we’re happy with him wherever he runs, if we do run him again this season. If we could avoid Galopin Des Champs, anyone would wisely do that, especially on his home turf. You’d want to avoid getting into another scrap with him until next March, so that’ll come into our thinking, but we’ll make the best decision for our horse if we’re happy with him.”
Nicholls has won the Aintree Bowl a record six times with See More Business, What A Friend, Silviniaco Conti (two times), and Clan Des Obeaux (two times).
“Age has caught up a little with him and he’s had this very minor injury,” he added. “His suspensory boots have troubled us. We thought he’d get there and we were very happy with him, but by the end of the week we realised we weren’t going to make it. It’s frustrating as it’s a minor injury, but it doesn’t matter the extent, if we have a problem we have to be careful.”
Nicholls will delay any decisions regarding his 11-year-old horse until he has spoken with his owners and has not ruled out another bid for the elusive treble in the Bowl next year. Clan Des Obeaux has not competed since finishing second to Allaho in the Punchestown Gold Cup last season, which is the race that Bravemansgame may be targeting.
‘It’s going to be a mammoth task’ – Emmet Mullins realistic as Noble Yeats bids to claim back-to-back Nationals.
Emmet Mullins, the trainer, believes Noble Yeats faces a “mammoth task” in his attempt to win the Grand National twice. However, he reported that the eight-year-old horse is in excellent form after finishing fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The 167-rated chaser, a general 8-1 shot to repeat last year’s success, will need to carry 11st 11lb to victory to follow in the footsteps of Tiger Roll and Red Rum and win consecutive Grand Nationals.
Noble Yeats became the first seven-year-old to win the Aintree showpiece since 1940 when scoring under Sam Waley-Cohen in April. The surprise 50-1 winner of the race last year while still a novice was Noble Yeats.
After being outpaced for much of the race, Noble Yeats ran well but was beaten 15 lengths by Galopin Des Champs in the Gold Cup. Mullins stated: He has emerged from the Gold Cup well overall. He appears great. I would have said that I needed to work him this week if he hadn’t run in the Gold Cup, so the National is set for now.
“It’s going to be a mammoth task to carry that weight, but we know he likes the course and stays the trip so that’s two big ticks to have.
“He ran a good race at Cheltenham, he galloped all the way to the line and the National trip looks to be definitely in his favour.”
Corbetts Cross, Mullins’ promising novice hurdler, may have finished the season. The JP McManus-possessed six-year-old has won multiple times in a useful season including a Grade 2 at Naas, and was all the while voyaging great in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham when he dodged right and ran out at the last obstacle.
Mullins said: “It was just one of those things at Cheltenham and we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I’m not sure we’ll we see him again this season. I ran him at Naas not knowing whether we would be going to Cheltenham or not, but we decided to head there and it nearly paid off. We are in a different position now so we’ll have to gather our thoughts and reassess.”
Another one of the trainer’s runners, Filey Bay, put on a good show at Prestbury Park. He finished third in the County Hurdle despite making a few mistakes when jumping.
Mullins said: “Filey Bay ran a stormer in the County when his jumping just let him down in the middle part of the race. He’s creeping up the handicap all the time without getting his head in front, which is a bit frustrating.”
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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