'It's a dream come true' - owner of National hope thrilled by prospect of return
The opportunity for owners to attend next month's Randox Grand National has been described as "a dream come true" by one of the team behind big-race contender Potters Corner.
Gareth Maule, a former rugby player who manages the All Stars Sports Racing syndicate that owns last season's Welsh National hero in partnership with Wales centre Jonathan Davies, says the lifting of restrictions to allow owners back on British racecourses from March 29 is a timely boost.
Owners have been prevented from going racing since the start of January, but they are set to return in line with the government timetable to permit larger gatherings outdoors at the end of this month, with spectators scheduled to follow from May 17.
"We understand why we've needed to take time away from the racecourse and if we're lucky enough to be at Aintree in person to lend our support and enjoy the occasion, it would be a dream come true for us all," Maule said.
"As much as there are a lot of underlying issues in racing, prize-money being one of them, I think we have to commend the way the sport has dealt with the pandemic and, within reason, allowed the show to go on.
"I think it's testament to the way racing has done that that we're in the position where people can return to racecourses. I'm disappointed the wider racing public is not able to witness such a great sporting occasion, but it's positive we seem to be making inroads for that to happen again."
The Christian Williams-trained Potters Corner, who won the Virtual Grand National last year, is set to head for the Glenfarclas Chase at Cheltenham on March 17 en route to the Grand National, for which he is a general 25-1 chance.
With Cheltenham taking place behind closed doors, the three-day meeting at Aintree, starting on April 8, is likely to benefit from any owner-related reduction in runners at the festival.
"I noticed the Cheltenham entries were down and it looks like there are owners thinking if there's a similar opportunity at Liverpool, they might wait to have the thrill of being there," said Maule.
"But I'm not an owner who agrees with social entries and we have the mindset of entering a horse in a race they have the best chance in. Hopefully, it's going to be a nice trade-off to have more of a sacrifice and then be able to have the raceday experience again."
Owners were only allowed to return to racecourses in a limited capacity previously and Maule is hoping as many of the syndicate as possible will be on course at Aintree.
"We have quite a diverse group of owners, who have been very understanding and supportive, and racehorse ownership is a way of release and enjoyment for us," Maule said.
"The reason you get involved is for the big days and fortunately for us we've tasted that and are eternally grateful for it. It would be an honour and privilege to be there. If we got there and were all allowed to attend, I'm sure it will be a day that lives in the memory for a long time."
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