Rachael Blackmore to make Grand National debut on 50-1 shot Alpha Des Obeaux
Rachael Blackmore will ride over the Aintree fences for the first time after being booked to ride the Mouse Morris-trained Alpha Des Obeaux, a general 50-1 shot, in this year’s Randox Health Grand National.
The news was confirmed by Gigginstown House Stud boss Eddie O’Leary.
He said: “Rachael will ride him and I think she has huge ability and is so professional – she’s a credit to her profession really – and hopefully everything will go well.”
Blackmore broke new ground for female jockeys last season after being crowned champion conditional off the back of riding 32 domestic winners.
Speaking on Saturday, Blackmore said: “I’m obviously very excited to be riding in the race and hopefully we can do our talking on the track next week.”
Morris landed Gigginstown their first Grand National victory two seasons ago when Rule The World capped an emotional spring for the handler in the hands of David Mullins, and O’Leary is hoping that the renowned Fethard-based trainer can work his magic once more.
He added on Alpha Des Obeaux: “He has plenty of class and you’d imagine he’d appreciate a test like an Aintree Grand National, but like Tiger Roll, we’d prefer better ground for him.”
‘Tiger Roll is our number one’
On Tiger Roll, a general 12-1 chance for the race, O’Leary said: “He’s obviously our number one hope in the race and he goes there with every chance but the better the ground is, the better his chance will be.
“Gordon reports him to be in grand form and he had him schooling over the Aintree style fences at the Curragh with some of his other National horses and Noel Meade also schooled Road To Riches in amongst them as well.
“Everything went well so hopefully we’re good to go. We didn’t give Tiger Roll much of a chance at Cheltenham on soft ground but he obviously went through it on the day, but I just think the Grand National on soft ground would be a different test, and I’d prefer if it was good ground for him.”
He added: “Gordon is an amazing trainer and he’s done an unbelievable job with this horse, keeping him sweet and keeping him going forward.
“It’s hard to believe that the horse has won a Triumph Hurdle, a National Hunt Chase and a Cross-Country at Cheltenham and now he looks like having a very good chance in an Aintree Grand National.
“The horse obviously has a heart as big as his body but he’s had a few problems down through the years. The season after he won the Triumph, we ran him in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal, but he pulled up and we thought he'd broken his pelvis.
“As it turned out, it wasn't broken, but it took Gordon and his team about a year and a half to get him back right. It just shows you how far he's come.”
Gigginstown, who ran 13 horses in the Irish Grand National last week, and ultimately won the race with 20-1 chance General Principle, could run as many as five in their attempt to land an Anglo-Irish National double next week.
The rest of their squad features Valseur Lido, Road To Riches and Thunder And Roses, and O’Leary said of their chances: “We were disappointed with Valseur Lido at Clonmel last week but according to Henry [de Bromhead] he’s working very well at home so maybe we can put that performance down to the very heavy ground.
“We haven’t seen the Valseur Lido of old this season but he’d appreciate better ground and he runs in the race as well.
He added: “Thunder And Roses will also run. He fell at the seventh in the Irish Grand National so he didn’t really have a race. As long as he’s okay, he’ll go there as well as Road To Riches.
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