After a fantastic season, Team Ditcheat are heading into Aintree with the horses in top form and with plenty of exciting chances. Harry Derham, Assistant Trainer to Paul Nicholls gives us the low down on the Nicholls Team for the Aintree Grand National Festival and tells us his fondest memories of the World’s Most Famous Race.
What are your best chances for the week?
We’ve got a really exciting team of horses to run over the 3 days but the highlight on Thursday would have to be Clan Des Obeaux, in the Grade 1 Betway Bowl. He was a brilliant winner of King George at Christmas and ran well in The Gold Cup, where he maybe didn’t quite get home over the last couple of furlongs. The flat track at Aintree will suit him well and I think he’ll run a big race. It’s obviously a bit of a risk when he hasn’t had long after Cheltenham but it’s the same for all of them and he schooled really well at home this week.
Topofthegame would be our best chance on Friday in the Grade 1 Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase. He obviously won the RSA Chase at The Cheltenham Festival and I actually think he’s improved since that run. It wasn’t a straight forward preparation for Cheltenham but he’s better now I think that he was going into Cheltenham and I think he’ll take all the beating.
Tommy Silver is going to run in the race before the Grand National, the 3-mile Handicap Chase. We’ve trained him for this race. He ran what was probably a career-best at Ludlow last time where he jumped really well, it was his first time over 3 miles which seemed to suit him and I like to think a sound surface over 3 miles will be right up his street again.
What horse are you most looking forward to running over the course of the 3 days?
It’s hard to say as we’re taking a great team and we’ve got some really good chances. I think Politologue in the Melling Chase would have a very good chance.
I’m really looking forward to seeing Christopher Wood run in the Juvenile Hurdle on Thursday. I don’t think by any means we’ve seen the best of him yet and I think good ground around Aintree will suit him well. McFabulous is another really nice horse we run in the bumper on Friday.
If I had to say one was our best chance for the week however I’d probably say Topofthegame.
Do you run anything in The Grand National and who do you fancy?
We possibly run Warriors Tale. He’d have an outside chance – obviously, the National is a wide-open race and you’ve got to jump all the fences but you’d be suspect to whether he’ll stay or not.
The horse I fancy for the race is Rathvinden, trained by Willie Mullins.
What is your favourite memory of the Grand National?
The Grand National itself would have to be Neptune Collonges, winning in 2012. It was just an unbelievable day. I was actually riding at Chepstow on the day but I remember screaming him home from the weighing room and to be a small part of a Grand National winner was amazing.
But my favourite memory of the Aintree Festival as a whole is by far Politologue winning the Melling Chase last year. It was immense – it was one of my best days racing ever. He went into Aintree after a heavy defeat at Cheltenham and to bounce back like he did was absolutely brilliant.