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Team player hoping to be a National hit at first attempt

Harry Cobden and Just A Par (right) in winning action at Newbury last month
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The horse Just A Par

The race Randox Health Grand National (5.15 Aintree)

The story David Mullins was the latest jockey to prove it is possible to win the world’s most famous race at the first attempt when triumphing aboard Rule The World 12 months ago.

This year 11 Grand National virgin jockeys, including Harry Cobden, will tackle the £1 million Aintree showpiece, each dreaming of emulating last year's winning rider.

Cobden, a key part of Team Ditcheat, rides 2015 bet365 Gold Cup winner Just A Par for his boss Paul Nicholls, the climax of what has proved to be a memorable season for the 18-year-old, and he couldn't have had a better warm-up than landing Friday's Topham Chase over the National fences on Ultragold.

After reaching his maiden half-century, Cobden has continued to boot home the winners and goes into the big race full of hope that Just A Par can give him a great ride.

He says I rode Just A Par out on Friday morning at Haydock and he seems very well. He has his own way of doing things, but I know him quite well. He likes me and we seem to get on.

It’s a big day, not only for myself but for the whole of the team at Ditcheat. Everyone has worked so hard this season and we’ve still got the trainers’ title in our sights.

We have five runners in the race and I think Le Mercurey has got a very good chance. He’s straightforward, jumps well and should give Sean Bowen a good spin.

On a personal note it’s been a brilliant season. My target was 40 winners, so to reach 50 was special. I have ridden a lot of nice horses and now have the chance to ride in a race I have been watching since I was very young.

National newcomers

David Noonan (Ballynagour)

Jamie Codd (Cause Of Causes)

Adrian Heskin (Double Shuffle)

Charlie Deutsch (Houblon Des Obeaux)

Harry Cobden (Just A Par)

Donagh Meyler (Measureofmydreams)

Derek Fox (One For Arthur)

Ger Fox (Raz De Maree)

Jack Kennedy (Roi Des Francs)

Jonathan Moore (Shantou Flyer)

Mark Enright (Thunder And Roses)

Grand National card, form & betting

Everyone has worked so hard this season and we’ve still got the trainers’ title in our sights
E.W. Terms