Jockey Sam Waley-Cohen may boast a strong record over the Aintree Grand National fences but his father, Robert, isn’t about to curse his luck by playing it up.
The amateur rider, who famously steered Long Run to Cheltenham Gold Cup glory for trainer Nicky Henderson in his father’s colours in 2011, is set to don the same silks next Saturday on board The Young Master.
Trained by Neil Mulholland, The Young Master is 18/1 to win the Grand National and he will have capable partner when it comes to meeting the iconic spruce-topped fences. Sam Waley-Cohen has won six races over the Grand National fences, including the Becher Chase in 2014 on Oscar Time.
It is a record many professional jockeys would be proud to claim but his father, and part-owner of The Young Master, isn’t about to risk overplaying it, knowing full well just how unforgiving Aintree can be.
“You hardly dare say that Sam has a great record over the fences as one day it is going to catch up with you with a fall! He has had a couple of falls over the fences and some great wins too,” said Waley-Cohen snr.
The Young Master finished sixth behind Un Temps Pour Tout in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and his owner is very pleased with how he has come out of that run.
He’ll now attempt to become the first Grand National winner to have run in that festival contest before Aintree joy since Bindaree scored for Nigel Twiston-Davies in 2002 (after having finished seventh at Cheltenham).
After running in the same contest last March, The Young Master won the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown on his next appearance and his owner feels that he is very much a horse that comes alive in the spring.
“The Young Master seems to have come out of his race at Cheltenham very well and it’s all systems go for Aintree,” he added.
“He seems to be a spring horse and runs well at this time of year, so hopefully that will continue at Aintree.”
While many have been debating the Grand National weights, Robert Waley-Cohen is much more circumspect in regard to handicapper Phil Smith’s assessments. He is happy with The Young Master’s allotment of 10st 12lb, whilst also fully aware just how big a part luck in running can sometimes play.
“The horse’s weight is exactly where I expected it to be – I have no arguments with his rating.
“In a race like the Grand National, with 40 runners, you only need some minor interference for a pound or two to make no difference at all.”
David Pipe’s Vieux Lion Rouge continues to head the Grand National betting at 10/1 while there has been consistent recent support for Brian Ellison’s runner Definitly Red, who is now 11/1 joint-second favourite.
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