Triumph hero Defi confirmed for sparkling opening day
After taking the JCB Triumph Hurdle by storm at the Cheltenham Festival, the exciting Defi Du Seuil is all set for a follow-up performance on the opening day of Aintree’s Grand National meeting next Thursday.
With Cue Card and Native River going head to head in the Aintree Bowl and Buveur D’Air set to take on Apple's Jade in the Aintree Hurdle, the addition of Defi Du Seuil will add more fireworks to an already high-calibre card.
Defi Du Seuil's trainer Philip Hobbs confirmed the smart young hurdler, undefeated in six starts since joining his yard, will line up for the Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle and said: "He has been pleasing us at home since Cheltenham and obviously took the race very well as he is in great form.
"He was very impressive on the good ground in the Triumph as he jumped well and kept galloping all the way to the line, so going to Aintree makes sense and then we will take it from there.
"Before the festival all his form had been on conditions that were either soft or more testing and it’s always a worry that horses need that type of ground but he obviously handles most conditions and, if anything, he jumped better at Cheltenham than he had done sometimes in the past."
Russell gets ride
Saint Are, Grand National runner-up in 2015, will be partnered by Davy Russell in this year's Randox Health-backed contest on April 8. Regular rider Adrian Heskin will be on board the Tom George-trained stablemate Double Shuffle, also a general 50-1 chance.
George said: "They are both looking fantastic and are working well. We are very much hoping the good weather continues for the pair of them and the rain stays away."
Spring has sprung at Aintree, with clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch reporting temperatures reached the mid-teens over the weekend.
The ground on both the Grand National and Mildmay courses is described as good, good to soft in places.
"The Grand National course is fractionally easier," said Tulloch. "There is plenty of natural moisture there but we will keep an eye on it and if we need to water we will do."
Rain is forecast at the end of the week before another dry weekend. The Met Office confirmed temperatures are set to stay in the teens this week, with unsettled weather midweek bringing the chance of thundery rain and heavier bursts along with sunny warm intervals.