Le Mercurey to carry Party Politics colours in National following purchase
Le Mercurey has been purchased by Patricia Thompson after being identified as a horse capable of giving her a second Grand National success 25 years after she won the world's most famous race with Party Politics.
Thompson, who with husband David owns Cheveley Park Stud, is best known as a Flat owner-breeder, but she is a big fan of the National having also previously bought Character Building and Mumbles Head to carry her colours in the Aintree showpiece.
"It's hugely exciting for Mrs Thompson as Le Mercurey looks set to carry the famous Party Politics silks in the Grand National after a decision was made to purchase him to run in the race,” said Chris Richardson, racing director at Cheveley Park Stud.
“He has youth on his side and looks an ideal candidate for the race. Obviously Mrs Thompson is primarily focused with matters on the Flat but we felt it was about time we had another runner in the race. It's very exciting, his trainer Paul Nicholls is excited, and so are we.”
Nicholls, who could run five in the Randox Health-sponsored contest on Saturday week, which could prove crucial in his trainers' title tussle with Nicky Henderson, told his Betfair blog: "Mrs Thompson has been an owner here for some time and has done well with Boa Island this season.
"She was looking for a Grand National contender with solid form and Le Mercurey fits the bill. Mrs Thompson bought Party Politics a few days before he won the race in 1992 and I'm hoping she strikes lucky again."
He added: "Le Mercurey has run really well several times this season including when narrowly beaten by Many Clouds at Aintree last December.
"He was ridden there by Sean Bowen, who keeps the mount as Sam Twiston-Davies has chosen Saphir Du Rheu."
Party Politics was bought by Thompson three days before the 1992 National, a popular victory and one followed five days later by a general election that returned John Major to Downing Street.
Party Politics contested four Nationals in all, and was second in 1995, while Character Building ran twice, doing best in 2010 when seventh. Mumbles Head was Thompson's last runner in the race, refusing at the last when tailed off in 2013. She bought the Nicholls-trained Benvolio two years ago with the intention of him running in the National, but he ended up missing the race.
While seven-year-old Le Mercurey may have youth on his side, Gavin Cromwell is hoping Raz De Maree will become the first 12-year-old to win the National since Amberleigh House in 2004. Le Mercurey and Raz De Maree are both around the 40-1 mark.
“Raz is in great form and is set to school over the the Aintree fences tomorrow,” said Cromwell on Tuesday.
“We ran him in a schooling bumper last week and he went well, and his latest run over hurdles was good.
“I suppose the softer the ground, the better his chance. I wouldn’t like to see him getting taken off his feet early on. Ger Fox will ride and knows him well.”
Cromwell was out of luck at Cheltenham when stable star Jer’s Girl took a heavy tumble when travelling well in the Grade 1 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, but she has shown no ill effects from that fall and will be aimed at the domestic spring festivals.
Cromwell added: “She was very lucky at Cheltenham because it was a heavy fall and the horse behind her gave her a right good bumping too.
“Luckily she was fine but I must admit I feared the worst at the time. She's been in great form since and we're looking at running her at Fairyhouse next. We may also run her in the Grade 1 mares’ race at Punchestown.”
Barry Geraghty, meanwhile, faces an anxious wait before finding out if he can return at Aintree next week.
Geraghty, who celebrated National success aboard Monty's Pass in 2003, had an MRI scan on Tuesday morning to assess his progress after he suffered a collapsed lung and six broken ribs in a fall from Charli Parcs in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton on February 25, but it will be the end of the week, or even next week, before he receives the verdict.