Grand National: Last Year’s Winner Joint Top-Weighted

Don’t Push It, who gave champion jockey Tony McCoy a first John Smith’s Grand National success last year, is set to carry joint-top weight of 11st 10lb in the 2011 race.

Weights for the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National, which takes place at Aintree on Saturday, April 9, were revealed at the meeting’s Official Launch in London today and Don’t Push It, who carried 11st 5lb to victory last year, jointly tops the handicap on 11st 10lb along with Neptune Collonges, winner of last month’s Grade Two Argento Chase at Cheltenham.

Don't Push It & Tony McCoy - Grand National 2010

The John Smith’s Grand National – worth a record £950,000 this year – is the only race in which the British Horseracing Board’s Head of Handicapping, Phil Smith, is able to use his discretion to frame the weights.

There is a maximum field size of 40 and last year no horse lower than 79th position in the weights at this stage got into the race, suggesting that any horse allotted less than 10st in 2011 will struggle to make the final cut.

Following today’s unveiling, Aintree’s official betting partner totesport make Ballabriggs and Niche Market 16/1 joint-favourites. Ballabriggs (11st) bids to give Cheshire handler Donald McCain a first success in the John Smith’s Grand National. McCain’s father Ginger enjoyed four successes in the race, of which three were provided by Red Rum.

Niche Market is part of a 10-strong team from champion trainer Paul Nicholls, who has never won the John Smith’s Grand National. The 10-year-old has been given 10st 13lb and Nicholls has five of the top 21 horses in the handicap. Alongside Neptune Collonges, there is What A Friend (11st 6lb), winner of last year’s totesport Bowl at Aintree and part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, Taranis (11st) and The Tother One (11st).

Don’t Push It’s owner J P McManus is also represented by Coral Welsh National winner Synchronised (11st 6lb), Quolibet (10st 8lb), bought out of Francois Doumen’s stable in France to join Jonjo O’Neill, Quiscover Fontaine (10st 5lb), Can’t Buy Time (10st 4lb) and Arbor Supreme (10st 3lb).

Raiders from across the Irish Sea have won half the last 12 runnings of the John Smith’s Grand National and, along with Quiscover Fontaine and Arbor Supreme, trainer Willie Mullins has nine engaged this year including Dooneys Gate (11st 4lb) and Thyestes Chase runner-up The Midnight Club (10st 13lb).The Edward O’Grady-trained Tranquil Sea, winner of the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown on his latest start, is the highest-weighted entry from Ireland with 11st 7lb to carry.

The Gordon Elliott-trained Backstage, who unseated his rider in the 2010 race, won a point-to-point at Kirkistown on Saturday by 10 lengths as part of his Aintree  preparation and will carry 10st 12lb this year.

Other classy entries include Tidal Bay (11st 9lb), winner of the 2008 Grade One John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree, and the 2010 John Smith’s Grand National third State Of Play, whose 10st 6lb weight compares with 10st 11lb last year. Big Fella Thanks, last year’s fourth owned by Harry Findlay’s mother Maggie, has been allotted 11st 1lb, 3lb more than in 2010. Last season’s Coral Scottish Grand National hero Merigo is set to carry 10st 1lb, while the Neil Mulholland-trained totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Midnight Chase has 11st 8lb.

The Alan King-trained West End Rocker, who could line up in Saturday’s Grand National Trial at Haydock, has been given 10st 5lb.

Julian Thick, Managing Director at Aintree Racecourse, commented: “BHA Head of Handicapping Phil Smith looks to have framed a typically-competitive renewal of the John Smith’s Grand National, which looks set to attract a classy field that befits the richest race ever run in Britain when all eyes are on Aintree on Saturday, April 9.”

Ballabiggs remains favourite

Ballabriggs remains favourite in the ante-post betting after the publication of the weights for the Grand National. A win for the 10-year-old would carry on a family tradition for his trainer, Donald McCain, as his father, Ginger, is an Aintree legend having won the National four times – three with Red Rum and once with Amberleigh House.

Ballabriggs leads the market for the race on 7 April at 14-1 with Betfred, Coral and William Hill, while totesport and Paddy Power have him as the 16-1 joint-favourite with Niche Market.

Tony McCoy ended his National hoodoo with Don’t Push It last April and Jonjo O’Neill’s charge is 20-1 for a repeat success. He has been given joint-top weight – with Neptune Collonges – of 11st 10lb, 5lb more than 2010. His stablemate, the Welsh National winner Synchronised (11st 6lb), is the same price.

McCoy is 12-1 with Coral and William Hill to ride back-to-back National winners from his choice of mounts.

Betfred are keen on the chances of the Willie Mullins-trained The Midnight Club off 10st 13lb and have trimmed the Rich Ricci-owned gelding to 16-1 joint second favourite.

Mullins, who has nine entries, is 11-2 favourite with Hills to be the winning trainer – ahead of Nicholls on 6-1 – and add a second National triumph after Hedgehunter in 2005.

Howard Johnson’s Tidal Bay is next in the weights after Don’t Push It and Neptune Collonges on 11st 9lb while the Neil Mulholland-trained Midnight Chase is on 11st 8lb. Evan Williams’ Deep Purple features next on the list on 11st 7lb. “The main aim for Tidal Bay is the Gold Cup so we’ll see,” Johnson said.

“I have schooled him over National fences before and he jumps them like a buck. there’s nearly a month between them and he’s 10 now but we’ll see. He wants a marathon trip these days, which is strange for an Arkle winner. If he ran, we’d know our fate early. He’ll either take to it or tail himself off.”


Class 1, Grade 3, £950,000 total Prize Fund. 4.15pm, Aintree, Saturday, April  9, 2011, four miles and four furlongs. For six-year-olds old and upwards which are allotted a rating of 110 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 13, 2011. Horses which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at February 1, 2011, may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible for a weight providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances to February 13, 2011, would merit a minimum rating of 110. To qualify horses must have run at least three times in Steeple Chases run under the Rules of Racing of the same Recognised Turf Authority up to and including February 13, 2011. At the Handicapper’s discretion such horses may be allocated a rating. The decision of the BHA Head of Handicapping shall be final. No penalties after publication of the weights. Highest weight 11st 10lb. Entries closed February 1, entries revealed February 2 (102 entries, 1 subsequently scratched), weights revealed February 15, first scratchings deadline March 1, second scratchings deadline March 22. Five-day confirmation stage April 4, final declaration stage 10.00am, April 7. Maximum field size of 40, plus 4 reserves. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Sunday, February 13. Don’t Push It and Neptunes Collonges rated 160.

Form  Horse    Age/Wgt Owner    Trainer

1) 23P1-P0 DON’T PUSH IT (IRE) 11-11-10 J P McManus   Jonjo O’Neill

2) F14/-B01 NEPTUNE COLLONGES (FR) 10-11-10 John Hales   Paul Nicholls

3) 104-322 TIDAL BAY (IRE) 10-11-09 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson

4) 1-41111 MIDNIGHT CHASE 9-11-08 Lady Clarke   Neil Mulholland

5) 1P46-3U DEEP PURPLE 10-11-07 Paul Green   Evan Williams

6) 2106-11 TRANQUIL SEA (IRE) 9-11-07 Dermot Cox/Nelius Hayes Edward O’Grady IRE

7) 131-561 SYNCHRONISED (IRE) 8-11-06 J P McManus   Jonjo O’Neill

8) 501B-00 VIC VENTURI (IRE) 11-11-06 Seamus Dunne   Dessie Hughes IRE

9) 61/211-5 WHAT A FRIEND 8-11-06 Ged Mason & Sir Alex Ferguson Paul Nicholls

10) U62/1-31 MAJESTIC CONCORDE (IRE) 8-11-05 Dr Ronan Lambe  Dermot Weld IRE

11) 2F1425 OR NOIR DE SOMOZA (FR) 9-11-05 Silvio-Martin Staub  David Pipe

12) 01F24-41 DOONEYS GATE (IRE) 10-11-04 Jackie Mullins   Willie Mullins IRE

13) 16-1155 LITTLE JOSH (IRE) 9-11-03 Tony Bloom   Nigel Twiston-Davies

14) 20-3534 SCOTSIRISH (IRE) 10-11-02 Double R Stables Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE

15) 2U14-2F BIG FELLA THANKS 9-11-01 Maggie Findlay   Ferdy Murphy

16) 3111-11 BALLABRIGGS (IRE) 10-11-00 Trevor Hemmings  Donald McCain

17) 14P//1-0F TARANIS (FR) 10-11-00 Angela Yeoman  Paul Nicholls

18) UP-3631 TATENEN (FR) 7-11-00 The Stewart Family  Richard Rowe

19) 205-244 THE TOTHER ONE (IRE) 10-11-00 Graham Roach   Paul Nicholls

20) 520P-F5 NICHE MARKET (IRE) 10-10-13 Graham Regan   Paul Nicholls

21) U3133-2 THE MIDNIGHT CLUB (IRE) 10-10-13 Susannah Ricci   Willie Mullins IRE

22) 0BP-500 BACKSTAGE (FR) 9-10-12 MPR & Capranny Syndicate Gordon Elliott IRE

23) 30011-0 CHIEF DAN GEORGE (IRE) 11-10-12 Maurice Chapman  Jimmy Moffatt

24) 5121-00 SILVER BY NATURE 9-10-12 Geoff Brown   Lucinda Russell

25) 1500-10 FAIR ALONG (GER) 9-10-11 Alan Peterson   Philip Hobbs

26) F42040 I’MSINGINGTHEBLUES (IRE) 9-10-11 Jo Tracey   David Pipe

27) 4UP-250 NOTRE PERE (FR) 10-10-11 Tilly Conway   Barry Potts IRE

28) 4-56242 CALGARY BAY (IRE) 8-10-10 Camilla Radford  Henrietta Knight

29) P2P-253 KILLYGLEN (IRE) 9-10-10 David McCammon  Stuart Crawford IRE

30) 1/2100-P TRICKY TRICKSTER (IRE) 8-10-10 Chris Giles   Paul Nicholls

31) 121616- JUST AMAZING (IRE) 8-10-09 Catherine Penny  Paul Nicholls

32) 3152-26 OSCAR TIME (IRE) 10-10-09 Robert Waley-Cohen/Sir Martin & S Broughton Martin Lynch IRE

33) 032236- SNOWY MORNING (IRE) 11-10-09 Quayside Syndicate  Colin Bowe IRE

34) 0100-03 BALLYTRIM (IRE) 10-10-08 Violet O’Leary   Willie Mullins IRE

35) 2212-42 BECAUSEICOULDNTSEE (IRE) 8-10-08 Noel Glynn   Noel Glynn IRE

36) 2/000-06 COMPLY OR DIE (IRE) 12-10-08 David Johnson   David Pipe

37) 1-122B0 NEDZER’S RETURN (IRE) 9-10-08 William Elliott   Gordon Elliott IRE

38) P-550042 NORTHERN ALLIANCE (IRE) 10-10-08 Irish Rover Syndicate  Tony Martin IRE

39) 510-113 QUINZ (FR) 7-10-08 Andrew Cohen   Philip Hobbs

40) 2F-FF25 QUOLIBET (FR) 7-10-08 J P McManus   Jonjo O’Nell

41) 313-355 FROM DAWN TO DUSK 12-10-07 Charles Lloyd-Baker  Philip Hobbs

42) 11FP10P GRAND SLAM HERO (IRE) 10-10-07 Walters Plant Hire Ltd  Nigel Twiston-Davies

43) 3P6/454-P ROLL ALONG (IRE) 11-10-07 Bryan & Philippa Burrough Nigel Twiston-Davies

44) 2212-52 APT APPROACH (IRE) 8-10-06 Greenstar Syndicate  Willie Mullins IRE

45) P22-41F GULLIBLE GORDON (IRE) 8-10-06 Bunty Millard   Paul Nicholls

46) 3211-11 KING FONTAINE (IRE) 8-10-06 Trevor Hemmings  Malcolm Jefferson

47) 0/144/P3- STATE OF PLAY 11-10-06 William & Angela Rucker Evan Williams

48) 21PP-PP DREAM ALLIANCE 10-10-05 The Alliance Partnership Philip Hobbs

49) 005P-1P HELLO BUD (IRE) 13-10-05 Seamus Murphy  Nigel Twiston-Davies

50) 566U-343 IN COMPLIANCE (IRE) 11-10-05 Westerly Breeze Syndicate Dessie Hughes IRE

51) 0/1160-2 QUISCOVER FONTAINE (FR) 7-10-05 J P McManus   Willie Mullins IRE

52) 6-220001 SANTA’S SON (IRE) 11-10-05 Douglas Pryde & Jim Beaumont Howard Johnson

53) 2P/00-11 WEST END ROCKER (IRE) 9-10-05 Barry Winfield & Tim Leadbeater Alan King

54) 0C21-04 BLUESEA CRACKER (IRE) 9-10-04 Note The Link Syndicate James Motherway IRE

55) 16F-0P5 CAN’T BUY TIME (IRE) 9-10-04 J P McManus   Jonjo O’Neill

56) 000-3056 CHARACTER BUILDING (IRE) 11-10-04 Patricia Thompson  John Quinn

57) 1215/1P/-5 ORNAIS (FR) 9-10-04 The Stewart Family  Paul Nicholls

58) 00P-234 PIRAYA (FR) 8-10-04 Terry Neill   David Pipe

59) PP2/111/- SURFACE TO AIR 10-10-04 Tim Urry   Chris Bealby

60) 301050 THAT’S RHYTHM (FR) 11-10-04 Don’t Tell Henry  Martin Todhunter

61) 0U2F-0P ARBOR SUPREME (IRE) 9-10-03 J P McManus   Willie Mullins IRE

62) 1F3U-P1U FRANKIE FIGG (IRE) 9-10-03 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson

63) 15P-614 MOBAASHER (USA) 8-10-03 Seasons Holidays  Venetia Williams

64) 331-P31 NICTO DE BEAUCHENE (FR) 10-10-03 Exors of the late Philip de Wilde Victor Dartnall

65) 1P0-053U ONE COOL COOKIE (IRE) 10-10-03 Gigginstown House Stud Charlie Swan IRE

66) 013111- OUR MONTY (IRE) 8-10-03 Colland Sand & Gravel Ltd Willie Mullins IRE

67) P5U-42P ROYAL ROSA (FR) 12-10-03 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson

68) 0P1-006 ALWAYS WAINING (IRE) 10-10-02 Mr & Mrs Peter James Douglas Peter Bowen

69) 421001 GOLDEN KITE (IRE) 9-10-02 Dr Anthony Calnan  Adrian Maguire IRE

70) P1P-41U MEANUS DANDY (IRE) 8-10-02 Mark & Tessa Woodhouse & Paul Barber Paul Nicholls

71) 41/313-0 SKIPPERS BRIG (IRE) 10-10-02 Ashleybank Investments Limited Nicky Richards

72) 1F4/22-1 BELON GALE (IRE) 8-10-01 Andrea & Graham Wylie Howard Johnson

73) 3/402P-0 FAASEL (IRE) 10-10-01 Hush Hush Partnership  David Pipe

74) 3P-0204 LE BEAU BAI (FR) 8-10-01 Glass Half Full   Richard Lee

75) 0D61-0F MERIGO (FR) 10-10-01 Raymond & Anita Anderson Green Andrew Parker

76) 321112 PUTNEY BRIDGE 9-10-01 Louise Goldsworthy  Keith Goldsworthy

77) 012P51 QUEZAC DE LA ROQUE (FR) 7-10-01 Gerald Laroche   Francois Cottin FR

78) 256-0216 ASKTHEMASTER (IRE) 11-10-00 Carrolle Wall   Robert Tyner IRE

79) 363221- DEV (IRE) 11-10-00 Liam Mulryan   Gordon Elliott IRE

80) F123-P2 GILES CROSS (IRE) 9-10-00 KCMS Partnership  Victor Dartnall

81) 111U0-6 SADDLERS STORM (IRE) 9-10-00 Billy Moffett/R T & J McLoughlin Tony Martin IRE

82) 11P61/0/- STARZAAN (IRE) 12-10-00 Ben Arbib   Hughie Morrison

83) 60U0-60 AMBOBO (USA) 11-9-13 Deirdre Brassil   Martin Brassil IRE

84) 05241P DUERS (IRE) 9-9-13  Kate Kelly/Kate Ronan  Paul Magnier IRE

85) 31-PP11 SAGALYRIQUE (FR) 7-9-13  Sir Robert Ogden  Donald McCain

86) 311120- TOBY JUG 10-9-13      Paul & Caron Chapman & Sarah Humphrey Sarah Humphrey

87) 635P-6P CANE BRAKE (IRE) 12-9-12 Mount Temple Racing Syndicate Conor O’Dwyer IRE

88) 5/2613-P GALANT NUIT (FR) 7-9-12  David Parry   Ferdy Murphy

89) 3131-32 JUNIOR 8-9-12  Middleham Park Racing LI David Pipe

90) 00-5064 THE SAWYER (BEL) 11-9-12 David Fear   Bob Buckler

91) 315F-0(3)F KHACHATURIAN (IRE) 8-9-10  John Glews & Brendan Richardson Donald McCain

92) 40F-0445 BALLYFITZ 11-9-09 Fred & Wayne Mills  Nigel Twiston-Davies

93) P0-24U34 I’MONCLOUDNINE (IRE) 8-9-09  Fred Matthews   Neil Mulholland

94) PF4-536 POMME TIEPY (FR) 8-9-09  Susannah Ricci   Willie Mullins IRE

95) P12-UPP3 BURREN LEGEND (IRE) 10-9-08 Thomas Thompson  Richard Rowe

96) 12/- CARRONHILLS (IRE) 9-9-08 A J & Mrs C Rhead & Gearoid Costello  Rebecca Curtis

97) 204/12-PP THE SLIOTAR (IRE) 10-9-08 Roger Brookhouse  Philip Hobbs

98) 4F2P-43 TINAKELLYLAD (IRE) 7-9-07  Brenda Twomey  Mouse Morris IRE

99) 021-062 NOBLE CONCORDE 9-9-04  Dr Ronan Lambe  Jim Culloty IRE

100) F/116PP- TREACLE (IRE) 10-9-04 Bjorn Nielsen   Tom Taaffe IRE

101) 560-P232 REGAL HEIGHTS (IRE) 10-9-02  Janet Heler   Tom George

101 entries

34 Irish-trained

1 French-trained

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