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Friday, March 27, 2009

BATTLECRY (GB) FACTFILE
b or br g Accordion - Miss Orchestra (IRE) (Orchestra)
8-10-07 Form: 13FP29P/131P52214332-245P Owner: Trevor Hemmings
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies Jockey: Tom Scudamore Breeder: Grange Stud (UK)

Battlecry
Battlecry, a son of the 1998 Midlands National winner Miss Orchestra, was bred at Raymond Mould’s former Grange Stud, close to his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies’s stable at Naunton near Cheltenham. He was sold to Irish agent John O’Byrne as a yearling for 23,000 guineas at Doncaster in November, 2002, before being picked up three years later by Twiston-Davies for just 1,200 euros at Tattersalls Ireland. That price looked a bargain from the moment he made his debut in a Worcester bumper on October 5, 2006, when coming home 22 lengths clear of his rivals. After finishing third in a good Cheltenham bumper the following month, he was sent novice hurdling although fell and pulled up on his first two starts when highly tested. He went on to be second in a Kempton novices’ hurdle in February, 2007, before finishing ninth in the Grade One Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He was then pulled up in the Grade One Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree. He had a dozen outings last season, beginning with a maiden hurdle success at Perth in September. After one more start over hurdles, when third the following month at Cheltenham, he made an auspicious start to his career over fences with a nine-length beginners’ chase victory at Wetherby in November, 2007. Four subsequent chase starts yielded two second places before switching back to the smaller obstacles to win the Grade Two Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster in January last year. He has yet to win again over fences but finished last season with three excellent placed efforts. He was third to Albertas Run in both the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot and RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival before finishing second to Big Buck’s in the Grade Two John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree with Albertas Run in third. He was subsequently bought by Albertas Run’s owner Trevor Hemmings and returned at Cheltenham in November when second of four in a graduation chase. He was subsequently fourth of five in a Sandown intermediate chase, well-beaten in a competitive Cheltenham handicap in January and was most recently pulled up in the Racing Post Chase at Kempton on February 21.

Race Record: Starts: 23; 1st: 4; 2nd: 5; 3rd: 4; Win & Place Prize Money: £89,413

Trevor Hemmings
Trevor Hemmings, who was born on June 11, 1935, boasts a classic rags to riches story. Born in Woolwich Arsenal, south London, where his father worked at the Royal Ordnance factory, Trevor was sent to Lancashire as a five-year-old during World War II and began life as a bricklayer’s apprentice after leaving school aged 15, before rapidly worked his way up the Pontins holiday business to the extent that he was able to sell it on to Scottish & Newcastle in exchange for a significant share holding in S & N (1989). He bought Pontins back in 2000 but retained a stake in S & N, which netted him £218 million when the company was sold in January, 2008. He is also a major (42%) shareholder in Arena Leisure Plc, which owns Folkestone, Lingfield, Southwell, Wolverhampton and Windsor racecourses and manages Doncaster and Worcester. Arena is also a major shareholder in broadcaster At The Races that owns some of British racing’s media rights. Hemmings’ many other interests include Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens in the North West resort. His empire also includes hotels, a wallpaper business and in June, 2000, another company in which he has a major share, Rodime Plc, paid £161 million for the Littlewoods pools business, which included the bookmaker Bet Direct (since sold). He also owns a share of Preston North End FC. In recent years he has stepped up his involvement in racing and fulfilled one of his greatest ambitions when Hedgehunter carried his colours to victory in the 2005 John Smith’s Grand National. After years of trying, Hemmings had finally emulated his mentor Fred Pontin, owner of the 1971 National hero Specify, with his 13th Grand National runner. His first winner came on the Flat in 1985 but Hemmings now brings on young jumping stock at Gleadhill House Stud, managed by former trainer Mick Meagher, at his base at Chorley in Lancashire, and at his Monymusk Stud in Co Cork. He first tried to win the John Smith’s Grand National with the Stan Mellor-trained Rubika, who finished 14th in 1992. His 70-plus horses are split between Sue Smith, Nicky Henderson, Henrietta Knight, Nicky Richards, Henry Daly, Willie Mullins, Jonjo O’Neill, Peter Beaumont, Ferdy Murphy, Chris Grant, Donald McCain Jnr, Oliver Sherwood, Paul Nicholls, Alan King, Venetia Williams, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Malcolm Jefferson while he has predominantly younger stock with Eugene O’Sullivan in Ireland. Hemmings, who was made an honorary Jockey Club member in December, 2006, resides on the Isle of Man and is said to have paid £12 million for the Ballavodan estate there. John Smith’s Grand National Record: 1992 Rubika (14th); 2000 The Last Fling (7th); Esprit De Cotte (Fell 22nd); 2001 The Last Fling (UR 5th), Esprit De Cotte (UR 11th); 2002 Goguenard (Fell 1st), Beau (UR 14th); 2003 Southern Star (14th), Chives (PU bef 12th); 2004 Arctic Jack (Fell 1st), Southern Star (PU bef 9th), Hedgehunter (Fell 30th); 2005 HEDGEHUNTER (Won), Europa (20th); 2006 Hedgehunter (2nd), Juveigneur (Fell 1st), 2007 Hedgehunter (9th), Billyvoddan (PU bef 19th); 2008 Cloudy Lane (6th), Hedgehunter (13th), Idle Talk (14th)

Nigel Twiston-Davies
The Gloucestershire handler combined training as a permit-holder with his farming interests throughout the 1980s, having his first winner with Frozen Prince at Hereford in March, 1982, before the agricultural recession prompted him to make training his full-time profession. He took out a full training licence in 1989, recording his first win as a public trainer in December of that year with Babil at Newbury. Born on May 16, 1957, as an amateur jockey Twiston-Davies rode 17 winners under Rules and gained a further 17 point-to-point victories, and served as assistant trainer to Richard Head and Fred Rimell. A childhood neighbour and friend of Peter Scudamore, he went into partnership with the former champion jump jockey to set up stables at Grange Hill Farm, Naunton, Gloucestershire, although Scudamore is no longer involved in the venture, having teamed up with Denis Caro in 2002 and then his father Michael. Twiston-Davies has adopted and developed the pioneering techniques of Martin Pipe, such as interval training and regular blood tests for his string, enabling him to rapidly raise his profile among the training ranks. An essentially shy man, he momentarily shocked Des Lynam after Earth Summit's Grand National success in 1998 by telling the BBC presenter in front of millions of viewers "I don't do interviews". Twiston-Davies, who has gained 10 successes at the Cheltenham Festival including Imperial Commander in the Ryanair Chase, has many other Aintree victories to his name including the 2000 John Smith's Aintree Hurdle with Mister Morose. He won the bet365 Gold Cup with Beau, and the following season's Hennessy Gold Cup with King's Road. The 2001/2002 campaign had been relatively quiet by Twiston-Davies' high standards before Bindaree provided him with his second John Smith's Grand National success. Afterwards he revealed that he had been intending to give up training, but despite "having a bigger debt than Argentina" after buying out Scudamore, the Aintree victory made him have a change of heart. John Smith's Grand National Record: 1994 Young Hustler (BD 11th); 1995 Camelot Knight (Fell 21st), Dakyns Boy (UR 10th), Young Hustler (UR 3rd); 1996 Young Hustler (5th), Captain Dibble (11th); 1997 Camelot Knight (3rd), Dakyns Boy (8th), Grange Brake (Refused 27th); 1998 EARTH SUMMIT (WON); 1999 Earth Summit (8th), Camelot Knight (BD 22nd); 2000 Camelot Knight (15th); 2001 Beau (UR 20th), Spanish Main (Fell 1st); 2002 BINDAREE (WON), Frantic Tan (UR 5th), Beau (UR 14th); 2003 Bindaree (6th); 2004 Shardam (UR 3rd), Bindaree (UR 6th); 2005 Bindaree (11th), 2006 Baron Windrush (UR 3rd); 2007 Knowhere (UR 8th); Naunton Brook (PU bef 23rd), 2008 Fundamentalist (Fell 3rd), Ardaghey (Fell 4th), Naunton Brook (PU 19th), Knowhere (UR 25th)

Tom Scudamore
Born on May 22, 1982, Tom Scudamore was appointed stable jockey to David Pipe in the 2006/2007 season, marking a return to Pond House in Somerset where he began his career as an amateur for Pipe's father Martin, and where his own father Peter Scudamore, was also stable jockey. Tom comes from an illustrious line of jockeys. His great-grandfather Geoffrey rode winners as an amateur, grandfather Michael was Oxo's pilot when winning the 1959 Grand National and his father was eight-times champion jockey with 1,677 successes, but never won the John Smith's Grand National. Tom has made a big impression since leaving Cheltenham College after A-levels in 2000. He won the amateur riders' title in the 2000/01 season and also landed the 2001 Flat amateurs’ championship. After 52 unpaid successes, he turned professional in October, 2001, and alongside the backing of Martin Pipe (to whom he was a conditional upon turning professional) he was supported by Nigel Twiston-Davies, to whom his father was formerly assistant. His best winners include Iris Bleu, who won the Agfa Chase at Sandown in February, 2003, but he nearly trumped that in December, 2005, when finishing second on Monkerhostin in the King George VI Chase. He also rides for his brother Michael, who took over the family’s training licence this season. His first Cheltenham Festival winner came aboard An Accordion in last year’s William Hill Handicap Chase while this season’s highlights include a victory in the Levy Board Chase on Madison Du Berlais and three successes on the gutsy hurdler Lough Derg. Scudamore lives with his wife Charlotte and two daughters near Tiverton in Devon. John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2001 Northern Starlight (UR 6th); 2002 Smarty (PU 9th); 2003 Blowing Wind (8th); 2004 Shardam (UR 3rd); 2005 Iznogoud (12th); 2006 Iznogoud (PU bef 27th); 2007 Puntal (8th); 2008 Madison Du Berlais (Fell 8th). BIG FELLA THANKS (IRE) FACTFILE
b g Primitive Rising (USA) - Nunsdream (Derrylin) 7-10-12 Form: 112-322U13 Owner: Paul Barber & Maggie Findlay
Trainer: Paul Nicholls Breeder: R J Wilding

Big Fella Thanks
Big Fella Thanks was named by part-owner Harry Findlay after his favourite greyhound, who won the National Coursing Derby at Clonmel in 1999 and still lives with the professional punter at his home near Bath. The Primitive Rising gelding made two appearances in Irish point-to-points for Liam Burke, beating stablemate Herecomesthetruth in a Carrigtwohill maiden in February, 2007, and coming a neck second in a winner of one at Ballyragget the following month. He joined the Ditcheat yard of Paul Nicholls soon after and made his UK debut in a maiden hurdle at Chepstow in January, 2008, when he beat Buck The Legend by 10 lengths. He followed up with another convincing success under a penalty later the same month, taking a novice hurdle at Taunton by nine lengths, despite idling in front, and finished his first campaign with a good second in an Ayr handicap hurdle in mid-April. Big Fella Thanks began this season in a beginners’ chase at Chepstow on October 25, making most of the running prior to being headed near the line by Wichita Lineman and West End Rocker. He also tired in the closing stages on his next appearance at Cheltenham on November 15, when coming home second to Ballyfitz, and application of blinkers appeared not to have the desired effect in a beginners’ chase at Taunton on his next appearance on December 11, when Big Fella Thanks was collared near the line by Itsa Legend. Further disappointment followed in a handicap chase at Kempton on December 27, as he unseated Christian Williams at the third last. Big Fella Thanks finally opened his account over fences in the Listed Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on January 24, when he produced a far more confident round of jumping to take the lead three fences out before staying on well to beat the previous year’s runner-up Ungaro by 11 lengths. Following such an impressive display, Big Fella Thanks was sent off a warm 7/2 favourite for the Grade Three Racing Post Chase at Kempton on February 21, but could not catch the front-running Nacarat and eventually stayed on to take third behind the Tom George-trained chaser and Possol.
Race Record: Starts: 9; Wins: 3; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £76,122

Paul Barber and Maggie Findlay
Paul Barber’s family have farmed near Ditcheat since the 1830s and he oversees a 2,000-strong dairy herd on 3,000 acres, having started with 150 cows on 150 acres, that now produce 45 tonnes of cheese daily for Barbers and Maryland Farmhouse Cheese, run by Paul’s brother Nicholas. Paul - who has been allergic to cheese since the age of five - was born on December 31, 1942, on the kitchen table in the house where he still lives, stating “I’ve never thought about living elsewhere” and despite no family involvement with racing, has been an owner since his purchase in 1958 of a horse that cost £450 and had to be paid for instalments. He has never owned a Flat horse and his first winner was Crazy Slave, who scored in 1963, and his main flagbearers have been the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman (owned with Maggie Findlay) and the 1999 scorer See More Business. He paid £82,000 for Denman and refuses to pay over the odds for a horse after stung when making a couple of expensive purchases following See More Business’s success. “Back then I bought a couple of horses which to my mind cost too much money. One thing all horses have in common are that they are bloody expensive,” he said recently. Others to carry his colours include See More Indians, who won eight races out of 14, and the John Thorne-trained Artifice. Barber owns Nicholls’s Manor Farm Stables, initially converted from a cow shed, and his house overlooks Denman’s stable. Many of his best performers have had an initial grounding in point-to-points, either with Liam Burke in Ireland or Barber’s brother Richard - who has trained four Festival winners - at Seaborough in Dorset. Barber’s partner in many of his horses is professional gambler Harry Findlay. Like many of Findlay’s horses, Denman runs in the name of his mother Margaret, like his late father a former nurse from Glasgow. The London-born Findlay, who lives near Bath, is a one-time greyhound trainer who is best known as a fearless high-stakes punter. He is a regular winner of the Tote’s Scoop 6 bet and specialises in long odds-on bets on Betfair but met his biggest reverse when losing £2.7 million after backing New Zealand to win the 2007 Rugby World Cup. He met Paul Barber at Doncaster sales and the duo have teamed up to own a number of promising performers which - apart from Denman and Big Fella Thanks - include Racing Post Chase winner Gungadu and Desert Quest, who landed the 2006 Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle. He now has a total of around 80 horses in training, including a large Flat team. Many of his more recent recruits are owned in partnership with top poker player Tony Bloom.

John Smith’s Grand National Record (Paul Barber): 1996 Deep Bramble (PU bef 29th); 1998 General Crack (PU bef 11th)

Paul Nicholls
Paul Nicholls, the son of a policeman, was born on April 17, 1962, and has been training at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, Somerset, since taking out a licence on November 1, 1991. He started out in racing as a jump jockey and twice rode the winner of the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury, in 1986 on Broadheath and a year later on Playschool. Nicholls partnered 130 winners between 1980 and 1989, struggling always to keep his weight down, and nominates the best horses he rode as Broadheath, Playschool and Seagram. Between 1989 and 1991, he was assistant trainer to Devon-based David Barons, who sent out Seagram to win the 1991 Grand National at Aintree during that time. He started out at Paul Barber's Manor Farm with eight horses. Having strongly challenged Martin Pipe for the jump trainers' championship over a number of years, most notably when pushing his great rival right to the last day of the 2004/05 campaign, Nicholls claimed his first title the following season, being responsible for 148 winners and gaining over £2.4 million in prize money. He retained the title the next season with 124 successes and nearly £2,950,000 in prize money. The hugely talented Kauto Star was the stable's flag-bearer, with victories in the bonusprint.com Old Roan Chase at Aintree, the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park, Sandown's Tingle Creek Chase, the King George VI Chase at Kempton, Newbury's AON Chase and the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Kauto Star thus became the first horse to land the Betfair Million, the huge bonus put up by the leading betting exchange to a horse successful in the Betfair Chase, King George VI Chase and totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Kauto Star’s halo slipped slightly in 2008 but it was Nicholls who also trained his conqueror in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, the mighty Denman. Nicholls saddled the first three home in the race with Neptune Collonges taking the third spot and the Ditcheat handler ended the campaign as champion trainer once again with 151 winners, accruing over £4 million in prize money. Nicholls pulled off the amazing feat of saddling seven winners and three seconds from his 10 runners on Saturday, November 7, 1998, and made history when he became the first trainer to saddle six winners on the same card, at Wincanton, his local track, on Saturday, January 21, 2006. His 1,000th British winner came when Noble Action won at Folkestone on November 15, 2004. Another high point in his training career came at the 1999 Cheltenham Festival when he captured the major chase on each of the three days - Flagship Uberalles scored in the Irish Independent Arkle Chase, Call Equiname in the Queen Mother Champion Chase the following day and, best of all, See More Business took the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Nicholls has trained 25 Cheltenham Festival winners in total, and was the most successful trainer at The Festival in 1999, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. This season he has swept all before him, winning a series of big races with the champion Kauto Star, who became the only horse to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup and also won his third King George VI Chase. Neptune Collonges landed the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, Big Buck’s captured the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and Master Minded won his second Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase, while Denman showed that the flame was still burning following his illness when runner-up to Kauto Star in the Gold Cup. His seven victories at the 2009 Festival represent a new record.

John Smith’s Grand National Record: 1992 Just So (6th); 1996 Vicompt De Valmont (10th), Deep Bramble (PU bef 2 out), Brackenfield (UR 19th); 1997 Straight Talk (Fell 14th); 1998 What A Hand (Fell 1st), Court Melody (Fell 6th), General Crack (PU 11th); 1999 Strong Chairman (15th), Double Thriller (Fell 1st), 2000 Earthmover (Fell 4th), Torduff Express (Fell 13th), Flaked Oats (Fell 20th), Escartefigue (UR 30th); 2001 Earthmover (Fell 4th); 2002 Murt’s Man (PU bef 17th), Ad Hoc (BD 27th); 2003 Montifault (5th), Fadalko (UR 6th), Ad Hoc (UR 19th), Shotgun Willy (PU bef 22nd), Torduff Express (UR 27th); 2004 Exit To Wave (PU bef 9th); 2005 Royal Auclair (2nd), Heros Collonges (8th), L’Aventure (15th), Ad Hoc (Fell 22nd); 2006 Royal Auclair (Fell 1st), Le Roi Miguel (PU bef 19th), Cornish Rebel (PU bef 19th), Silver Birch (Fell 15th), Le Duc (UR 8th), Heros Collonges (UR 15th); 2007 Royal Auclair (Fell 9th), Le Duc (UR 6th), Eurotrek (PU bef 22nd), Thisthatandtother (PU bef 30th); 2008 Cornish Sett (12th), Mr Pointment (PU bef last), Turko (Fell 25th). CORNISH SETT (IRE) FACTFILE
b g Accordion - Hue N' Cry (IRE) (Denel)

10-10-07 Form: U121141/2142217F/01726/2P80-F120
Owner: Peter Hart Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Breeder: Jeremy Maxwell

Cornish Sett
Cornish Sett did not make the most illustrious start to his racing career, throwing off Mark Bradburne at the start of a Hereford bumper in May, 2004. Two days later, though, he made amends with a victory at Ludlow. In a brief hurdling career, the horse displayed a tendency to hang, but that did not stop him recording three wins from just five races. His best hurdling performance was probably at Ayr - his last race over the smaller obstacles - when he beat Howard Johnson's Coat Of Honour in a Class 2 event. His first race over fences in October, 2005, was impressive, placing second to Philip Hobbs’ decent novice Chilling Place by just half a length at Exeter, despite appearing to look for an alternative exit as he approached the last. Little wonder then that headgear was applied for his next race at Newbury where he duly recorded his first chase victory. A failure at Warwick, where the ground may have been testing enough, was followed by two seconds and a first, the win coming on good to firm ground at Newbury (when he dead-heated) in the Vodafone Gold Cup. At the 2006 Cheltenham Festival he was down the field in the Jewson Novices' Chase and, returning to the course a month later, fell for the first time in his career when still travelling well behind Old Vic in a two-mile five-furlong chase. In the 2006/07 season, Cornish Sett raced just five times, the most impressive outing was when he won the Jersey Graduation Chase over three miles and half a furlong at Cheltenham in November, though he was also a decent second over three miles to Simon in Kempton's Racing Post Chase. That campaign ended with a disappointing sixth in the Betfred Gold Cup at Sandown, after being well fancied. Last season, a promising opener at Cheltenham in November, when he was second to a revitalised Sir Rembrandt, was followed by lacklustre runs in the Boylesports.com Chase at Cheltenham and the Welsh National, although he ended the campaign with a fair effort in the John Smith’s Grand National, completing the course in 12th. The current campaign began at Wincanton in October, when Cornish Sett fell in a handicap chase. However, he quickly made amends next time out when prevailing by a nose from Island Flyer in the Listed Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton on November 8. He followed that effort with a fine second behind Notre Pere in the Welsh National at Chepstow in December while last time out he was disappointing when tailed off in the Blue Square Vodka Gold Cup at Haydock on February 14. Cornish Sett is related to Grand National winners Hallo Dandy (1984) and Rhyme N' Reason (1988).

Race Record Starts: 28; 1st: 8; 2nd: 7; 3rd: 0; Win & Place Prize Money: £205,992

Peter Hart
Cornish Sett fulfilled a lifetime ambition for owner Peter Hart when the gelding secured a novices’ hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, 2005. Hart had always dreamed of seeing a horse carry his colours to victory up the Prestbury Park hill, and remarkably, Cornish Sett was his first ever runner at the course. Hart worked in the building industry for 47 years, prior to his retirement in February, 2007, as Managing Director of Gloucestershire-based Formpave Ltd, the award-winning company he established a decade earlier. Formpave pioneered the manufacture of permeable concrete paving blocks that recycle rain and filter run-off. Hart sold his majority share in Formpave to the UK building products division of Hanson plc in September, 2006. He is a director of Forest Pennant Ltd, the Somerset-based makers of Royal Forest Pennant stone paving, established in 2005 as a subsidiary of Formpave. Hart’s first success as an owner came with the Paul Nicholls-trained Celtic Song, who was registered under the ownership of Formpave Ltd when winning a novices’ hurdle at Wincanton on October 10, 2002. Hart enjoyed his biggest success as an owner when Cornish Sett dead-heated with Horus for the 2006 Vodafone Gold Cup at Newbury. He also has the smart novice chaser Super Formen and novice hurdler Special Occasion.
John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2007 Cornish Sett (12th)

Paul Nicholls
Paul Nicholls, the son of a policeman, was born on April 17, 1962, and has been training at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, Somerset, since taking out a licence on November 1, 1991. He started out in racing as a jump jockey and twice rode the winner of the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury, in 1986 on Broadheath and a year later on Playschool. Nicholls partnered 130 winners between 1980 and 1989, struggling always to keep his weight down, and nominates the best horses he rode as Broadheath, Playschool and Seagram. Between 1989 and 1991, he was assistant trainer to Devon-based David Barons, who sent out Seagram to win the 1991 Grand National at Aintree during that time. He started out at Paul Barber's Manor Farm with eight horses. Having strongly challenged Martin Pipe for the jump trainers' championship over a number of years, most notably when pushing his great rival right to the last day of the 2004/05 campaign, Nicholls claimed his first title the following season, being responsible for 148 winners and gaining over £2.4 million in prize money. He retained the title the next season with 124 successes and nearly £2,950,000 in prize money. The hugely talented Kauto Star was the stable's flag-bearer, with victories in the bonusprint.com Old Roan Chase at Aintree, the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park, Sandown's Tingle Creek Chase, the King George VI Chase at Kempton, Newbury's AON Chase and the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Kauto Star thus became the first horse to land the Betfair Million, the huge bonus put up by the leading betting exchange to a horse successful in the Betfair Chase, King George VI Chase and totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Kauto Star’s halo slipped slightly in 2008 but it was Nicholls who also trained his conqueror in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, the mighty Denman. Nicholls saddled the first three home in the race with Neptune Collonges taking the third spot and the Ditcheat handler ended the campaign as champion trainer once again with 151 winners, accruing over £4 million in prize money. Nicholls pulled off the amazing feat of saddling seven winners and three seconds from his 10 runners on Saturday, November 7, 1998, and made history when he became the first trainer to saddle six winners on the same card, at Wincanton, his local track, on Saturday, January 21, 2006. His 1,000th British winner came when Noble Action won at Folkestone on November 15, 2004. Another high point in his training career came at the 1999 Cheltenham Festival when he captured the major chase on each of the three days - Flagship Uberalles scored in the Irish Independent Arkle Chase, Call Equiname in the Queen Mother Champion Chase the following day and, best of all, See More Business took the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Nicholls has trained 25 Cheltenham Festival winners in total, and was the most successful trainer at The Festival in 1999, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. This season he has swept all before him, winning a series of big races with the champion Kauto Star, who became the only horse to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup and also won his third King George VI Chase. Neptune Collonges landed the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, Big Buck’s captured the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and Master Minded won his second Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase, while Denman showed that the flame was still burning following his illness when runner-up to Kauto Star in the Gold Cup. His seven victories at the 2009 Festival represent a new record.

John Smith’s Grand National Record: 1992 Just So (6th); 1996 Vicompt De Valmont (10th), Deep Bramble (PU bef 2 out), Brackenfield (UR 19th); 1997 Straight Talk (Fell 14th); 1998 What A Hand (Fell 1st), Court Melody (Fell 6th), General Crack (PU 11th); 1999 Strong Chairman (15th), Double Thriller (Fell 1st), 2000 Earthmover (Fell 4th), Torduff Express (Fell 13th), Flaked Oats (Fell 20th), Escartefigue (UR 30th); 2001 Earthmover (Fell 4th); 2002 Murt’s Man (PU bef 17th), Ad Hoc (BD 27th); 2003 Montifault (5th), Fadalko (UR 6th), Ad Hoc (UR 19th), Shotgun Willy (PU bef 22nd), Torduff Express (UR 27th); 2004 Exit To Wave (PU bef 9th); 2005 Royal Auclair (2nd), Heros Collonges (8th), L’Aventure (15th), Ad Hoc (Fell 22nd); 2006 Royal Auclair (Fell 1st), Le Roi Miguel (PU bef 19th), Cornish Rebel (PU bef 19th), Silver Birch (Fell 15th), Le Duc (UR 8th), Heros Collonges (UR 15th); 2007 Royal Auclair (Fell 9th), Le Duc (UR 6th), Eurotrek (PU bef 22nd), Thisthatandtother (PU bef 30th); 2008 Cornish Sett (12th), Mr Pointment (PU bef last), Turko (Fell 25th). DARKNESS (GB) FACTFILE
ch g Accordion - Winnowing (IRE) (Strong Gale)
10-10-06 Form: 3/121210/121113P//3P1
Owner: Lady Lloyd-Webber Trainer: Charles Egerton
Breeder: Mrs Ann Jenkins

Darkness
Bred by the late Ann Jenkins, Darkness is relatively lightly-raced for a 10-year-old having faced the starter just 17 times. His career began in March, 2004, when he finished a promising third in a bumper at Newbury. The following season he registered victories in a bumper and novice hurdle at Plumpton and Towcester and also finished runner-up to subsequent Grade One scorer The Listener at Plumpton. His novice hurdle career ended with a run in the Grade One Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, where he finished a distant 18th behind No Refuge. For the 2005/06 season, Darkness was sent over fences and quickly regained the winning thread with victories at Uttoxeter, Newbury (where he easily accounted for the high-class Iris’s Gift), Cheltenham and Sandown, where he gained the biggest victory of his career to date in the Grade One Feltham Novices Chase on Boxing Day. He was then put away until the Cheltenham Festival in March, when he ran well to finish third in the RSA Chase behind Star De Mohaison. A disappointing effort followed next time out, when he was pulled up in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr. Injury kept Darkness off the track for the next two seasons and he made his first appearance for two and a half years at Haydock in November, 2008, when he finished a decent third behind Possol. He failed to build on that promise next time out when pulled up in the Welsh National before returning to form with a win in a veterans handicap chase at Newbury on February 28.

Race Record: Starts: 17; Wins: 8; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 3; Win and Place prize money: £124,977
Lady Lloyd-Webber
Born Madeleine Gurdon, Lady Lloyd-Webber was a top-level three-day event rider and show jumper, though nowadays her equine interests are largely confined to the owning and breeding spheres. In February, 1991, she became the third wife of the hugely successful theatrical impresario Lord (Andrew) Lloyd-Webber, whose many West End dramatic triumphs have included Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Starlight Express and Cats, and played a major role in setting up their Watership Down Stud near Newbury in 1992. That venture, which has expanded to include the Kiltinan Castle Stud in Ireland, has been a great success - it has led to their support for the Watership Down Stud Stakes for two-year-olds at Ascot - and they have made major headlines at the sales. One of the yearlings they sold at Newmarket made a European record price of 3.4 million guineas. The Sadler’s Wells colt, raced in Europe under the name of Diaghilev and was successful in Group Three company before being sold to Hong Hong where he won the Group One QE II Cup under the name River Dancer. The best horses to have raced for them have included the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile winner Crystal Music on the Flat and the talented and versatile Bacchanal, who showed top level form over hurdles and fences.

Grand National Record (Since 1980): 1994 Black Humour (Fell 15th), 2003 Killusty (Fell 22nd)

Charles Egerton
Born on September 25, 1963, the Old Etonian Egerton (who answers to Charles or 'Edgie' but not Charlie), has been training since 1991 after gaining worldwide experience with Nick Gaselee, Alec Stewart, Colin Hayes in Australia and the British Bloodstock Agency and comes from a background steeped in racing. His father Tom, who died in the autumn of 1998, was a member of the Jockey Club from 1966 and owned a number of useful horses on the Flat and jumping like Sherry Netherland, Foothill and Broken Rail. In 1951 he bought Heads Farm at Chaddleworth, near Newbury, where he bred many of his winners and where his son trains. Egerton operates a mixed Flat and jumping yard with his best successes having come with the jumpers. Among his best horses have been Shadow Leader, who won the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr in 1997, only to be killed in a final-flight fall in the Champion Hurdle the following season. He also trained Mysilv in her later racing days when she won four times, headed by the Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury and ran twice in three days at the Cheltenham Festival, finishing sixth in the 1996 Champion Hurdle and then runner-up in the Stayers' Hurdle two days later. He also trained a smart staying hurdler in Seekin Cash, won a second Tote Gold Trophy with Decoupage in 1999 and did well with that horse over fences the following season in spite of his team having at one time been under the weather. Decoupage won twice over fences and was third in the 2000 Irish Independent Arkle Chase at Cheltenham while Teeatral won the 2001 Agfa Hurdle at Sandown in February. A superb training performance saw Egerton send out Mely Moss to finish second in the 2000 Grand National on that horse’s seasonal debut. Egerton is known as a man of broad girth, although much of it disappeared when he competed in the London Marathon on three occasions. John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2000 Mely Moss (2nd); 2001 Mely Moss (BD 8th), 2002 Mely Moss (11th), 2003 Killusty (Fell 22nd), 2007 Gallant Approach (12th), Graphic Approach (Fell 22nd) EUROTREK (IRE) FACTFILE
ch g Eurobus - Orient Jewel (Pollerton)
13-11-00
Form: 2612//1P/411P/1P/ Owner: Paul Green
Trainer: Paul Nicholls Breeder: Mrs D Molony

Eurotrek
One of the most lightly-raced 13-year-olds on the block, the talented Eurotrek has had a host of ailments and niggles during his career, from broken blood vessels to a heart problem. A winning Irish point-to-pointer, he has raced only a dozen times, making his debut for trainer Robert Alner in a Haydock bumper in November, 2001, when he finished a promising second to Full Irish. He again showed himself to be no mean performer when going to Cheltenham later that month for a sixth-place effort behind that season's subsequent Weatherbys Champion Bumper winner Back In Front. Success came at Newbury the following month when making his debut over hurdles. He next went to Warwick in January, 2002, for the Grade Two Leamington Novices' Hurdle where he finished second to Classified in a smart field of novices that included One Knight and Joss Naylor. Eurotrek was not seen again until November, 2004 when, having switched to trainer Paul Nicholls, he appeared at Market Rasen and made a winning debut over fences. A quick reappearance later that month saw him pulled up behind Baron Windrush at Aintree on the Mildmay course. He re-emerged at Sandown in November, 2005, running a fair race to finish fourth in a handicap chase, before going on to a smooth success in the Powersolve Electronics Greatwood Charity Handicap Chase at Newbury the following month. Given a real test of stamina next time, Eurotrek posted his best effort yet as he scored an emphatic success in the Grade Three totesport Classic Chase at Warwick over three miles and five furlongs on January 14, 2006, passing the post 15 lengths clear of the runner-up Sir Rembrandt. His final start that season came in the Red Square Vodka Gold Cup at Haydock in February, when he was pulled up before the 16th fence. A last-minute injury meant he was unable to line up in the 2006 John Smith's Grand National and he was not seen out until November that year, when he headed to Aintree for the totesport.com Becher Chase. Partnered by Liam Heard, Eurotrek defied top weight to come home eight lengths clear of Bewleys Berry, despite almost taking the wrong course after the last fence. He did not run until the 2007 John Smith’s Grand National, when he was pulled up before Becher’s Brook on the second circuit and has not raced since.

Race Record: Starts: 12; Wins: 5; 2nd: 2; 3rd: -; Win & Place Prize Money: £125,466

Paul Green
Paul Green - head of Retail Property Holdings - qualified as a chartered accountant before making his fortune in the world of high finance and property development. He was born in Northampton on September 1, 1942, and raised in Bletchley. The company developed one of Britain's biggest shopping centres, the Silverburn in Glasgow, at a cost of £350 million. The centre opened in October 2007. He subsequently named a horse Silverburn who is with Eurotrek's trainer Paul Nicholls. An owner for over 30 years, he also has the distinction of having been champion trainer in Jersey, his adopted home. Green has enjoyed plenty of big winners as an owner in Britain and Ireland over the years, both on the Flat and over jumps. The two best horses to have carried his silks are Hors La Loi III and Carvill's Hill. The former won the Supreme Novices' Hurdle athe Cheltenham Festival in 1999 and added the Champion Hurdle in 2002, a race in which he was runner-up to the great Istabraq in 2000. Carvill's Hill's major wins included the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup in Ireland and the Coral Welsh National. Green also won the 1998 Gold Card Hurdle Final with Unsinkable Boxer, and the Challow Hurdle and the Long Walk Hurdle with the enigmatic Tyrone Bridge, who was runner-up in the 1990 Ascot Gold Cup. On the Flat, Bajan Sunshine won the 1983 Cesarewitch just three days after Green purchased him, while the 2000 renewal of the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot went the way of Autumnal, owned in partnership with his wife Jenny. As well as Paul Nicholls, his trainers have included Martin Pipe, Francois Doumen, Ed Dunlop, Kevin Prendergast, Brian Meehan, Mick Easterby, Neville Callaghan, Jim Dreaper, Jeremy Noseda, James Fanshawe, Brendan Powell, Paul Webber, Andrew Balding, Gary Moore, Richard Phililips, Robert Alner, Francois Cottin, Evan Williams, Nicky Henderson, Alan King and his stepson, Nick Walker.

John Smith's Grand National Record (since 1980): 2001: Unsinkable Boxer (PU 20th), 2007 Eurotrek (PU 27th)

Paul Nicholls
Paul Nicholls, the son of a policeman, was born on April 17, 1962, and has been training at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, Somerset, since taking out a licence on November 1, 1991. He started out in racing as a jump jockey and twice rode the winner of the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury, in 1986 on Broadheath and a year later on Playschool. Nicholls partnered 130 winners between 1980 and 1989, struggling always to keep his weight down, and nominates the best horses he rode as Broadheath, Playschool and Seagram. Between 1989 and 1991, he was assistant trainer to Devon-based David Barons, who sent out Seagram to win the 1991 Grand National at Aintree during that time. He started out at Paul Barber's Manor Farm with eight horses. Having strongly challenged Martin Pipe for the jump trainers' championship over a number of years, most notably when pushing his great rival right to the last day of the 2004/05 campaign, Nicholls claimed his first title the following season, being responsible for 148 winners and gaining over £2.4 million in prize money. He retained the title the next season with 124 successes and nearly £2,950,000 in prize money. The hugely talented Kauto Star was the stable's flag-bearer, with victories in the bonusprint.com Old Roan Chase at Aintree, the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park, Sandown's Tingle Creek Chase, the King George VI Chase at Kempton, Newbury's AON Chase and the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Kauto Star thus became the first horse to land the Betfair Million, the huge bonus put up by the leading betting exchange to a horse successful in the Betfair Chase, King George VI Chase and totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Kauto Star’s halo slipped slightly in 2008 but it was Nicholls who also trained his conqueror in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, the mighty Denman. Nicholls saddled the first three home in the race with Neptune Collonges taking the third spot and the Ditcheat handler ended the campaign as champion trainer once again with 151 winners, accruing over £4 million in prize money. Nicholls pulled off the amazing feat of saddling seven winners and three seconds from his 10 runners on Saturday, November 7, 1998, and made history when he became the first trainer to saddle six winners on the same card, at Wincanton, his local track, on Saturday, January 21, 2006. His 1,000th British winner came when Noble Action won at Folkestone on November 15, 2004. Another high point in his training career came at the 1999 Cheltenham Festival when he captured the major chase on each of the three days - Flagship Uberalles scored in the Irish Independent Arkle Chase, Call Equiname in the Queen Mother Champion Chase the following day and, best of all, See More Business took the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Nicholls has trained 25 Cheltenham Festival winners in total, and was the most successful trainer at The Festival in 1999, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. This season he has swept all before him, winning a series of big races with the champion Kauto Star, who became the only horse to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup and also won his third King George VI Chase. Neptune Collonges landed the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, Big Buck’s captured the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and Master Minded won his second Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase, while Denman showed that the flame was still burning following his illness when runner-up to Kauto Star in the Gold Cup. His seven victories at the 2009 Festival represent a new record.

John Smith’s Grand National Record: 1992 Just So (6th); 1996 Vicompt De Valmont (10th), Deep Bramble (PU bef 2 out), Brackenfield (UR 19th); 1997 Straight Talk (Fell 14th); 1998 What A Hand (Fell 1st), Court Melody (Fell 6th), General Crack (PU 11th); 1999 Strong Chairman (15th), Double Thriller (Fell 1st), 2000 Earthmover (Fell 4th), Torduff Express (Fell 13th), Flaked Oats (Fell 20th), Escartefigue (UR 30th); 2001 Earthmover (Fell 4th); 2002 Murt’s Man (PU bef 17th), Ad Hoc (BD 27th); 2003 Montifault (5th), Fadalko (UR 6th), Ad Hoc (UR 19th), Shotgun Willy (PU bef 22nd), Torduff Express (UR 27th); 2004 Exit To Wave (PU bef 9th); 2005 Royal Auclair (2nd), Heros Collonges (8th), L’Aventure (15th), Ad Hoc (Fell 22nd); 2006 Royal Auclair (Fell 1st), Le Roi Miguel (PU bef 19th), Cornish Rebel (PU bef 19th), Silver Birch (Fell 15th), Le Duc (UR 8th), Heros Collonges (UR 15th); 2007 Royal Auclair (Fell 9th), Le Duc (UR 6th), Eurotrek (PU bef 22nd), Thisthatandtother (PU bef 30th); 2008 Cornish Sett (12th), Mr Pointment (PU bef last), Turko (Fell 25th). HEAR THE ECHO (IRE) FACTFILE
b g Luso - Echo Creek (IRE) (Strong Gale)

8-11-02 Owner: Gigginstown House Stud Trainer: Mouse Morris IRE
Breeder: Nuala Delaney Form: U150F/1P21FF340/0501-556U

Hear The Echo
Hear The Echo fulfilled the promise he had shown earlier in his career when winning the 2008 Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse. The Mouse Morris-trained chaser surged clear under Paddy Flood for a 12-length victory at the end of the three mile, five furlong contest, scoring at odds of 33/1. Bred by Nuala Delaney, Hear The Echo’s first taste of competitive action came as a four-year-old at Tallow point to point in February, 2005, when storming to a six-length victory under Paul Cashman. His debut under Rules followed in a Naas maiden hurdle that October but the outing proved frustrating for connections, including his then trainer David Wachman, as he unseated Conor O’Dwyer when hurdling the third-last. Victory followed six days later with a five-length defeat of Patsy Hall at Down Royal. Hear The Echo was unsuccessful in three remaining starts that season and the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding was moved to the stable of Mouse Morris for the 2006/2007 campaign. He made the perfect start for Morris, winning his first chase by five lengths at Clonmel that November. He pulled-up behind Back In Front next time but was then a fine second to Schindler’s Hunt in the Grade One Durkan New Homes Novice Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival. Victory followed in the Grade Two Paddy Fitzpatrick Memorial Novice Chase at the same course in January, before falling at the second-last in the Grade One Baileys Arkle Perpetual Challenge Cup later that month. He tipped up again at Navan the next month before finishing third and fourth to Offshore Account at Navan and Naas respectively. The season concluded in the Grade One Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse, in which he finished eighth. Hear The Echo returned to action in October, 2007, making little impact in two starts. He caught the eye next time when seventh in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown on December 27. Ridden by Davy Russell, Hear The Echo made progress to fourth before a poor jump at the last saw him fade to finish eight and a half-length eighth behind Newbay Prop. Following a three-month break, Hear The Echo was a fresh horse for the Irish National. Allotted a featherweight 10st, the seven-year-old took up the running four fences from home and stayed on readily from runner-up Royal County Star. With the John Smith’s Grand National in mind, Hear The Echo’s first three outings this term came over hurdles. Switched back to fences in the Grade Two Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park on February 14, Morris’ charge unseated Russell two from home.

Race Record: Starts: 22; Wins: 4; 2nd: 1; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £164,006

Gigginstown House Stud
Famous for its horses and prized Aberdeen Angus cattle, Gigginstown House Stud, near Mullingar, Co Westmeath, is the residence of Michael O’Leary, chief executive of the highly successful budget airline Ryanair. O’Leary was born in Mullingar on March 20, 1961 and he was educated at the exclusive Clongowes Wood College, Co Kildare, and read business studies at Trinity College Dublin. After graduating in 1983, O’Leary began working as an accountant for SKG as well as setting up a chain of newsagents. While working at SKG, he advised Tony Ryan, head of Guinness Peat Aviation and father of O’Leary’s school friend Declan. He rose to become Ryan’s financial advisor in 1987 and was given the task of turning round his failing budget airline, Ryanair, becoming deputy chief executive in 1991 and chief executive in 1994. O’Leary modelled Ryanair on the no-frills US operator Southwest Airlines. The airline benefited from the EU’s deregulation of the air industry in 1992 and has grown to become one of Europe’s largest carriers, carrying 67 millions passengers a year. O’Leary started off with horses on the Flat with David Wachman and Mick Halford, but he has become best known for his jumpers, which are split between a host of Irish trainers, most notably Mouse Morris, Charlie Swan, Charles Byrnes, Paul Nolan and Michael Hourigan. Morris has been responsible for the 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition and the 2008 Irish Grand National scorer Hear The Echo, while Swan trained One Cool Cookie to take the Powers Gold Cup (2007) and Nolan sent out Kill Devil Hill to triumph in the Drinmore Novice Chase (2005). O’Leary enjoyed a second success at the Cheltenham Festival this year when Weapons Amnesty won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. Davy Russell is the retained jockey for Gigginstown House Stud, while O’Leary’s brother Eddie, a top pinhooker and brother-in-law of ex-jockeys Charlie Swan and Norman Williamson, takes care of the day to day running of the operation. While he has often courted controversy with his publicity for Ryanair, O’Leary wanted his horses to run in the now famous maroon and white colours of Gigginstown House Stud because he did not want to draw attention to his runners: “I do an awful lot of stuff for Ryanair, but that is PR - you're trying to promote Ryanair and sell seats on planes. That's all part of the job. Outside of that I don't want - and don't need - profile or publicity. This was the only vehicle I had of not having my name associated with it. Obviously, after you win a Gold Cup, everyone knows that Gigginstown House Stud is mine, but for a couple of years there nobody knew who or what the hell it was."
John Smith's Grand National Record: No previous runners

Michael (Mouse) Morris IRE
Born April 4, 1951, Michael Morris has been known as Mouse since his early days as an amateur rider. His father, Lord Killanin, competed at the Olympic Games and went on to head the International Olympic Committee while his brother Redmond’s film credits as a producer include The Reader. As a youngster in Ireland, Mouse showed little enthusiasm for school, preferring to spend his mornings riding out for a local trainer and did not enjoy his time when sent to Ampleforth College in Yorkshire. He served his apprenticeship at the celebrated Frenchie Nicholson academy in Cheltenham alongside the likes of Pat Eddery and Tony Murray. He came back to Ireland, riding principally for Edward O’Grady and As a jockey he won the Irish Grand National on Billycan in 1977 and the Queen Mother Champion Chase twice on Skymas in 1976 and 1977. He took out his trainer’s licence in 1980 and immediately established himself as one of Ireland’s leading National Hunt trainers. Has five Cheltenham Festival wins to his credit - the best of these being Buck House’s victory in the 1986 Queen Mother Champion Chase and War Of Attrition’s 2006 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup success. He trains at Everardsgrange, Fethard, in Co. Tipperary. In 1984, Door Step became his first John Smith’s Grand National runner, but fell at the 18th fence. Lastofthebrownies finished a best-placed fourth for him in 1989.
John Smith’s Grand National Record: 1984 Door Step (Fell 18th); 1987 Attitude Adjuster (8th), Hi Harry (Ref 19th); 1988 Attitude Adjuster (5th), Lastofthebrownies (Fell 3 out); 1989 Lastofthebrownies (4th), Attitude Adjuster (12th), Cranlome (Fell 2nd); 1990 Lastofthebrownies (5th); 1991 Mick’s Star (13th); 1992 Rawhide (UR 1st); 1995 For William (15th); 1996 Three Brownies (6th); 1997 New Co (15th); 2004 Alcapone (PU Bef 25th); 2008 Baily Breeze (8th)

KNOWHERE (IRE) FACTFILEb g Lord Americo - Andarta (Ballymore)
11-11-04 Form: 11/P/11F22300U/135P16UP-100 Owner: Raymond Mould
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies Breeder: John Jobson Jockey: Paddy Brennan
Knowhere
The decisive winner of his only point-to-point start for trainer Ian Buchanan at Farmaclaffley, Co Armagh, in February, 2004, Knowhere was subsequently bought by Raymond Mould and transferred to Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Naunton stable. He landed his first two starts for his new connections that October, sauntering home in a novice hurdle at Hexham and following up in the Grade Two Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow, edging out Ladalko by a neck, before injury kept him off the track for 15 months. He reappeared in January, 2006, making his chasing debut in the Grade Two Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, but never looked entirely happy during the race, pulling up before two out, and was not seen out again that season. Knowhere was sent to Perth for his comeback race in the 2006/07 season, over an extended two and a half miles in September, when he treated his rivals with contempt to score by an easy 23 lengths, and the gelding landed another comprehensive victory at Bangor the following month over the same trip, coming home 15 lengths in front of Steppes Of Gold. Pitched into handicap company in the Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November, 2006, Knowhere was travelling well in the lead when falling at the eighth fence, and, after a runner-up finish to Cerium in Grade Two company at Ascot on November 18, returned to Prestbury Park the following month for the Grade Three Boylesports.com Gold Cup, producing a career best effort to run the highly progressive Exotic Dancer to a length and a half. Dropped back into novice company in the Grade One Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, 2006, Knowhere could only finish third to Ungaro, and did not shown his true ability on his two following outings at Cheltenham, running eighth in the Grade Three Ladbrokes Trophy Chase on January 27, 2007 and 12th behind Denman in the Grade One RSA Chase. Lining up as a novice in the 2007 John Smith’s Grand National, Knowhere fluffed his lines at the Canal Turn on the first circuit, unseating Tom Doyle. Last season Knowhere again proved himself to be one of the top chasers around, winning a handicap chase at Cheltenham on his seasonal reappearance in October before returning to the Cotswold track to finish a close third behind L’Antartique in the Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup the following month. A rare foray away from Cheltenham saw Knowhere line up in the Grade Three Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury two weeks later, when he put in another spirited display of jumping to finish fifth behind Denman. He made a swift reappearance in the Grade Three Boylesports.com Gold Cup at Cheltenham under first time blinkers, but the hard Newbury race took its toll and he was pulled up after a mistake three fences out. Knowhere began 2008 with a deserved Grade Two success over fences, coming with a strong challenge to beat Our Vic in the Letherby & Christopher Chase at Cheltenham at the end of January. Having been successful in the recognised trial for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, Knowhere fully deserved to take his chance at The Festival, but the gelding made several mistakes under the strong pace and eventually faded to finish sixth behind his Newbury conqueror Denman. He then returned to Aintree for a second crack at the John Smith’s Grand National and was still travelling well enough when unseating Joe Tizzard at Valentine’s Brook on the second circuit. Last season ended when he was pulled up in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown. The current campaign began with a decent win in the Grade Two intercasino.co.uk Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October when he defeated the high-class Exotic Dancer by a length. Next time out he finished eighth to Madison Du Berlais in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury while last time he was a distant 10th to Kauto Star in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Race Record: Starts: 23; Wins: 7; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 2; Win and Place prize money: £241,879

Raymond Mould
Following the death from cancer of his wife Jenny at the age of 54 in November, 2000, Raymond Mould inherited a high-class string of horses that included Bindaree. Mould, born on December 8, 1940, and a qualified solicitor, made his fortune in the property world. He is currently non-executive Chairman of London & Stamford Property, which acquired a 50% stake in Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre earlier this year. He was previously Executive Chairman of Pillar Property Plc until May, 2005, when it was acquired by British Land Plc. Mould joined the board of Arena Leisure in October, 2005, and is now chairman of the publicly listed company which operates seven British racecourses and owns 47.5% of specialist broadcaster At The Races. In 2007 Mould significantly increased his stake in Arena with the purchase of a million shares in the company. Among the best horses to race for his wife were the 1993 King George VI Chase winner Barton Bank and Charter Party, owned jointly with Claire Smith and winner of the 1988 Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Mould trainers included the late David Nicholson, Richard Phillips and Twiston-Davies. The Moulds ran the 90-acre Grange Stud (UK), breeder of Grand National contender Battlecry, at their Guiting Power home in the same village as Twiston-Davies’ yard but following Jenny’s death Raymond Mould moved to a village near Burford in Oxfordshire with second wife Caroline and sold his breeding stock at Doncaster in November, 2002. Seven years ago Mould shot to national fame when Bindaree gave him a Grand National success with only his second representative in the contest and there was a big party afterwards at the Hollow Bottom pub in Guiting Power. The Moulds also own Flat horses. John Smith’s Grand National Record: 1997 Grange Brake (Ref 27th); 2002 BINDAREE (WON); 2003 Bindaree (6th); 2004 Bindaree (UR 6th); 2005 Bindaree (11th); 2007 Knowhere (UR 8th), 2008 Knowhere (UR 22nd)

Nigel Twiston-Davies
The Gloucestershire handler combined training as a permit-holder with his farming interests throughout the 1980s, having his first winner with Frozen Prince at Hereford in March, 1982, before the agricultural recession prompted him to make training his full-time profession. He took out a full training licence in 1989, recording his first win as a public trainer in December of that year with Babil at Newbury. Born on May 16, 1957, as an amateur jockey Twiston-Davies rode 17 winners under Rules and gained a further 17 point-to-point victories, and served as assistant trainer to Richard Head and Fred Rimell. A childhood neighbour and friend of Peter Scudamore, he went into partnership with the former champion jump jockey to set up stables at Grange Hill Farm, Naunton, Gloucestershire, although Scudamore is no longer involved in the venture, having teamed up with Denis Caro in 2002 and then his father Michael. Twiston-Davies has adopted and developed the pioneering techniques of Martin Pipe, such as interval training and regular blood tests for his string, enabling him to rapidly raise his profile among the training ranks. An essentially shy man, he momentarily shocked Des Lynam after Earth Summit's Grand National success in 1998 by telling the BBC presenter in front of millions of viewers "I don't do interviews". Twiston-Davies, who has gained 10 successes at the Cheltenham Festival including Imperial Commander in the Ryanair Chase, has many other Aintree victories to his name including the 2000 John Smith's Aintree Hurdle with Mister Morose. He won the bet365 Gold Cup with Beau, and the following season's Hennessy Gold Cup with King's Road. The 2001/2002 campaign had been relatively quiet by Twiston-Davies' high standards before Bindaree provided him with his second John Smith's Grand National success. Afterwards he revealed that he had been intending to give up training, but despite "having a bigger debt than Argentina" after buying out Scudamore, the Aintree victory made him have a change of heart. John Smith's Grand National Record: 1994 Young Hustler (BD 11th); 1995 Camelot Knight (Fell 21st), Dakyns Boy (UR 10th), Young Hustler (UR 3rd); 1996 Young Hustler (5th), Captain Dibble (11th); 1997 Camelot Knight (3rd), Dakyns Boy (8th), Grange Brake (Refused 27th); 1998 EARTH SUMMIT (WON); 1999 Earth Summit (8th), Camelot Knight (BD 22nd); 2000 Camelot Knight (15th); 2001 Beau (UR 20th), Spanish Main (Fell 1st); 2002 BINDAREE (WON), Frantic Tan (UR 5th), Beau (UR 14th); 2003 Bindaree (6th); 2004 Shardam (UR 3rd), Bindaree (UR 6th); 2005 Bindaree (11th), 2006 Baron Windrush (UR 3rd); 2007 Knowhere (UR 8th); Naunton Brook (PU bef 23rd), 2008 Fundamentalist (Fell 3rd), Ardaghey (Fell 4th), Naunton Brook (PU 19th), Knowhere (UR 25th)

Paddy Brennan
Paddy Brennan, who was born at Ardrahan in County Galway on April 13, 1981, spent the summer of 1995 working for County Kildare handler Gerry Stack before embarking on a five season apprenticeship with the leading Irish trainer Jim Bolger, for whom he rode eight winners. The first of those came on Ivory Isle at Gowran Park in August, 1998. He became too heavy and tall for the Flat and moved to Paul Nicholls' stable as a conditional jockey in 2001. He stayed there for two and a half years, riding winners for Nicholls and Jeff King, before joining Philip Hobbs in the 2003/04 season as one of that yard's conditionals. Brennan also struck up a good rapport with Ashley Brook, on whom he won the Grade One Maghull Novices' Chase at Aintree in 2005, and enjoyed a first Cheltenham Festival success that year aboard Shamayoun in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle. Brennan was appointed as retained rider to owners Andrea and Graham Wylie for the 2006/07 season after dropping by trainer Howard Johnson's County Durham yard for a cup of tea and toast. He rewarded those connections when guiding Inglis Drever to victory in the 2007 Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham - the gelding's second success in the race. Brennan, who wanted to return to the south of England, left Johnson at the end of last season and joined Naunton-based handler Nigel Twiston-Davies last season. He tasted success over the big Aintree fences in November, 2005, when he was carried to victory by Hakim in the totepool Grand Sefton Handicap Chase. He was travelling well on Bewleys Berry in the 2007 John Smith’s Grand National, until the gelding fell at Becher’s on the second circuit. This year he has enjoyed another good season, with his biggest successes coming aboard Imperial Commander, trained by Twiston-Davies, in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2005 Double Honour (UR 21st), 2007 Bewleys Berry (Fell 22nd), 2008 Fundamentalist (Fell 3rd)
SOUTHERN VIC (IRE) FACTFILE
br g Old Vic - Hug In A Fog (IRE) (Strong Gale) 10-10-06
Form: 42115/121151/1525F/06U343 Owner: Brenda Graham
Trainer: Ted Walsh IRE Breeder: Neil Tector

Southern Vic
Successful in a Clonmel point-to-point in February, 2004, for Tom Costello, Southern Vic made his debut under Rules for Ted Walsh when fourth in a maiden hurdle at Navan nine months later. He went on to record two victories at Leopardstown in his first season and finished his campaign with a creditable fifth in a Grade Two novice hurdle at Naas in February, 2005. He began his career over fences with a half-length defeat of Slim Pickings in a beginners chase at Galway in November of the same year. He followed up with a second in a Naas novice chase before netting the biggest success of his fledgling career, taking the Grade One Ascon/Rohon Novice Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting. Further glory came in the Grade Two Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase at Naas in January, 2006, but he failed to justify favouritism over a shorter trip in the Grade One Dr P J Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown the following month, coming home fifth. Southern Vic completed his season with a straightforward success in a novice event at Navan, but he would endure a tough campaign as a second season chaser, despite winning on his seasonal reappearance in a Grade Three chase at Naas in October. Sent off a warm order for the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan at the end of November, Southern Vic came home fifth, but produced a better performance over the smaller obstacles at the same course when second to Celestial Wave in the Grade Two Tara Hurdle in mid-December. He made a quick reappearance 11 days later in the Grade One Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, finishing fifth behind The Listener, but his season was cut short with a crashing fall when carrying top-weight in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January, 2007, a tumble that would force him to miss the whole of the 2007/08 campaign. He finally returned to action when finishing down the field in a Naas handicap hurdle on October 25, 2008, and followed up with a sixth behind Catch Me in the Grade Two Lismullen Hurde at Navan on November 9. Sent over to Britain for the Listed totesport.com Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree on November 23, Southern Vic was travelling well over the National fences before unseating Richard McGrath at the Canal Turn. Two appearances in Grade Two races at Fairyhouse resulted in a good third over two miles and a furlong in the Normans Grove Chase on January 23 and a fourth behind Black Apalachi in the Bobbyjo Chase over a mile further on February 21. Southern Vic completed his John Smith’s Grand National preparation with a third behind Emma Jane and Florida Express in the Leinster National at Naas on March 14, when he wore blinkers for the first time in his career.

Race Record: Starts: 22; Wins: 7; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £135,096

Brenda Graham
Brenda Graham is the widow of legendary Belfast bookmaker Sean Graham, who established a large chain of betting shops throughout Northern Ireland and Scotland prior to his death in 1986 and was also well-known as a fearless on-course layer. The company, now principally run by Brenda’s sons, has since sold its Scottish operation to Morrisons bookmakers (now known as Scotbet), but is still a major player in Northern Ireland with 30 shops together with an on-course presence at the majority of Irish courses and Cheltenham in the UK. Brenda has a long association with horses, having owned the 1973 Irish Grand National winner Tartan Ace and Blue Cheek, who took the 1997 John Smith’s Foxhunter Chase. Brenda breeds horses and prefers to have only a few in training at any one time, with any outside purchases coming from Tom Costello. She also has several point-to-pointers with Gabe Mahon, who is based near Stratford and is the son of Blue Cheek’s trainer Jim.

John Smith's Grand National Record: No previous runners

Ted Walsh IRE
Born on April 14, 1950, at Fermoy in Co Cork and now based at Greenhills near Naas in Co Kildare, Ted Walsh is a racehorse trainer, journalist, and broadcaster with RTE and Channel 4. His father, Ruby, had a public house and kept a livery stable in Fermoy. In 1954 the Walsh family relocated to the United States, but came back to Ireland less than two years later, and Ruby rented a yard at Chapelizod. The Walshes later moved to a farm in Kill, Co Kildare, which Ted has now extended to 60 acres. Walsh was Irish champion amateur jockey on 11 occasions, and rode four Cheltenham Festival winners, including the 1979 Queen Mother Champion Chase on Hilly Way. Commanche Court, who Walsh selected, purchased and trained for owner Dermot Desmond, won the 1997 Triumph Hurdle and completed an amazing double in 2000 when winning the Irish National at Fairyhouse 16 days after Papillon landed the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree. Both horses were partnered by Ruby Walsh, who along with Jennifer, Ted Jnr and Katie, another successful rider, is one of Ted and Helen Walsh's four children. Ted Walsh's other training successes include the Betfred Gold Cup with Jack High in 2005 while Rince Ri won a number of good races for the stable including the Letheby & Christopher Chase at Cheltenham in 2002.
John Smith's Grand National Record: 1992 Roc De Prince (17th); 2000 PAPILLON (WON), 2001 Papillon (4th), 2006 Jack High (UR 15th), Rince Ri (Ref 27th), 2007 Jack High (Fell 6th)

STATE OF PLAY (GB) FACTFILE
b g Hernando (FR) - Kaprice (GER) (Windwurf (GER) 9-10-13
Form: 81/5742/411151/164/2560-14 Owner: William & Angela Rucker
Trainer: Evan Williams Breeder: Roland Lerner

State Of Play
Previously owned by Carolyn Waters, State Of Play had eight starts for trainer Paul Webber, winning a Ludlow bumper and a Hereford novice hurdle before being sold for 18,000 guineas at Doncaster Sales in August, 2005. He made an impressive winning debut for his new trainer Evan Williams that October when taking a novice chase at Chepstow and followed up with a comfortable success in a similar contest at Plumpton six weeks later. He was then pitched into Grade One company for the Feltham Novices’ Chase at Sandown on December 26, but he struggled against some top-quality opposition and was tailed off. Given a break, State Of Play returned to action in a handicap chase at Aintree’s John Smith’s Grand National meeting, when he made a mockery of his official mark of 128 and was eased down to record a stunning 16-length victory. He surpassed that success on his next appearance in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury in November, 2006, keeping on well to beat Juveigneur by four lengths. Williams kept his star chaser fresh for an ambitious tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup and State Of Play ran a sound race to finish sixth, just over 11 lengths behind the victorious Kauto Star, before a tepid end to his season with fourth behind Exotic Dancer in the Grade Two Betfair Bowl at Aintree. State Of Play showed his preference for running fresh with a good second to Ollie Magern on his seasonal debut in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in October, 2007, but the rest of that season proved a disappointment, with a fifth to Denman in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting followed by a sixth place in the Letheby & Christopher Chase at Cheltenham at the end of January. A confidence-restoring return to handicap company also failed at Aintree in April as State Of Play could only beat one horse home. After a five-month break, he began the current campaign with his first victory since his Hennessy triumph as he got the better of Ollie Magern in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on November 1. He returned to the Yorkshire course to contest the skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase on December 26, when he came home fourth behind Nozic, Tidal Bay and Cloudy Lane.

Race Record: Starts: 21; Wins: 7; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 0; Win & Place Prize Money: £229,896

William & Angela Rucker
William Rucker is chief executive of Lazard’s London operations. The bank dates back to 1848 and is one of the world's pre-eminent financial advisory and asset management firms, operating from 40 cities across 24 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Central and South America. William joined Lazard in 1987, having previously qualified as a chartered accountant with Arthur Andersen. His wife Angela is from a legendary point-to-point family, being the grand-daughter of Major Harold Rushton, who rode 86 winners, and the daughter of Pat Tollitt, who rode 171 winners between the flags and was champion lady rider on five occasions. Angela herself is also a talented rider and has been successful on six occasions this season. The Ruckers are based at Himbleton in Worcestershire and have horses with a variety of point-to-point trainers, including Fearghal O’Brien and Sheila Crow, who trained their Cappa Bleu to win the Christie’s Foxhunter Chase at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Horses that progress to run under rules are sent to Evan Williams, who has been well-supported by Angela’s family since he began training. Major winners for owner and trainer include State Of Play, who won the 2006 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury and the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in October, while High Chimes landed the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase at the 2008 Cheltenham Festival.

John Smith's Grand National Record: No previous runners

Evan Williams
Unrelated to the winning jockey of the 1937 Grand National who bears the same name, Evan Williams was born on April 3, 1971, on his family’s farm in the village of Llancarfan in the Vale of Glamorgan. He used to get up at dawn to milk the cows on the family farm before going to school before taking over the running of the farm full-time when he was 17, concentrating firstly on dairy farming and then beef when the price of milk dropped. He also started training a few point-to-pointers in 1997 but the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001 decimated his herd and restrictions on the movement of livestock wiped out the point-to-point season. Williams sold his cattle at a loss after the outbreak and went to Ireland to buy 18 horses with the proceeds, going on to be champion point-to-point trainer and jockey in 2002. He took out his full training licence the following year and rode his first winner, Cherry Gold, in a hunters chase at Chepstow on April 22, 2003. Williams enjoyed his first big-race success at the same course in December of that year, when saddling Sunray to win the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at odds of 40/1. The winners continued to flow and Williams shot to national prominence with State Of Play, who followed up success in a handicap chase at Aintree’s John Smith’s Grand National meeting in April, 2006, with victory in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury seven months later. The chaser has since gone on to triumph in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in October, while other big race success has arrived courtesy of High Chimes, who gave Williams a first Cheltenham Festival winner in the 2008 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase, and Grade Two scorers Deep Purple and Simarian. Williams is assisted by top amateur James Tudor, who was champion point-to-point rider in 2007 and partnered High Chimes to his Cheltenham success. He is married to Cath who continued to train point-to-pointers after he took out his professional license, saddling over 50 winners in two seasons including the prolific Canon Bridge, who chalked up nine wins in a single campaign. Cath and Evan have three children William, Isabel and Ellie. Williams has a team of 101 in training this year.

John Smith's Grand National Record: No previous runners TUMBLING DICE (IRE) FACTFILE
b g King’s Theatre (IRE) - Eva Fay (IRE) (Fayruz)
10-10-03
Form: 8092315714/8F4112F33/173P13P/201554/57626U-34435 Owner: Lucy Donegan
Trainer: Tom Taaffe IRE Breeder: John McEnery

Tumbling Dice
Having started his career with two unsuccessful starts on the Flat for Charles O’Brien, Tumbling Dice was acquired by his current owners and sent for a National Hunt career with Tom Taaffe. His first start over hurdles came in October, 2003, when he was a well-beaten eighth. He then finished 11th in a race that saw subsequent totesport Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition finish second. Although only ninth next time out, he was only two lengths off Macs Joy in a race won by Lingo. His next two starts saw considerable improvement with a runner-up placing followed by a third to Mansony. Stepped up from two miles to two and a half miles, Tumbling Dice got off the mark at Cork on January 3, 2004 with a gutsy half-length victory. Three runs later he was back in the winner’s enclosure at Wexford on March 13 that season. His 2004/2005 campaign got off to a bad start when he took a fall two out in a handicap hurdle when making his challenge. However, he soon rattled off a couple of wins at Punchestown in November and December. He came close to completing a good double for his trainer at Kempton Park on Boxing Day when just failing by a neck on a day when Kicking King landed the featured King George VI Chase. After an unlucky penultimate hurdle fall, Tumbling Dice travelled to Cheltenham and was third in the Coral Cup. He filled the same spot a month later in the Grade Two John Smith’s Liverpool Hurdle, 11 lengths behind Monet’s Garden. Sent novice chasing the following season, Tumbling Dice got off to the perfect start, scoring at Cork in October before finish seventh at The Open meeting at Cheltenham the following month. Having finished third in a Grade One novices’ chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting, he returned to winning ways at Clonmel in February, 2006, before again finishing third at the Cheltenham Festival, this time in the Jewson Novices’ Chase. In the 2006/07 season he landed Cork’s Grade Two Hilly Way Chase in good style in December, while he recorded some good efforts in Grade Two events. Last season began with a fifth placing in the same Cork Grade Two event and, while he has failed to make it into the winner’s enclosure, he ran a creditable second in the Grade Two Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown on February 3. Unfortunately, his first effort at the John Smith’s Grand National did not get very far as he unseated Tom Ryan at the third fence. This season he has run five times without entering the winner’s enclosure. His best effort this season came when fourth Mansony in Grade Two company at Fairyhouse in January while last time out he was fifth in a handicap chase at Gowran Park on March 20.

Race Record: Jumps Starts: 43; Wins: 7; 2nd: 4; 3rd: 7; Win and Place Prize Money: £139,516

Lucy Donegan
Tumbling Dice is owned by John and Lucy Donegan, a cousin of trainer Tom Taaffe. The couple acquired Tumbling Dice, the first horse to carry their black and red silks, off the Flat from Charles O’Brien and put him in training for a National Hunt career with Taaffe, an obvious choice of trainer for them. Keen golfers, the Donegans live on their farm in North County Dublin with their four daughters - Kate, Annie, Molly and Lu - all of whom have inherited the family passion for horses. Lucy attributes the selection of the black colours to her bad eyesight and inability to pick out brighter colours from a field of horses, while red is her favourite colour.

John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2008 Tumbling Dice (UR 3rd)

Tom Taaffe
Tom Taaffe, who was born on June 15, 1963, is son of the peerless Arkle's legendary jockey Pat Taaffe, who rode two Grand National winners in Quare Times (1955) and Gay Trip (1970). Tom took a giant stride into the limelight in 2005 thanks to his impeccable handling of totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Kicking King. Taaffe spent his schoolboy summers working for Arthur Moore and forged an association with the trainer that lasted 15 years, first as an amateur rider and then as a professional jockey. He rode his first winner at Phoenix Park in 1981 and enjoyed a successful career in the saddle as a jump jockey, partnering 400 winners. He finished third in the 1988 Grand National aboard Monanore and began training from Portree Stables near Straffan in County Kildare in 1994. In 1998, he enjoyed his first Grade One triumph with Delphi Lodge in the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse. Kicking King's Gold Cup success, combined with his earlier King George VI Chase victory, enabled Taaffe to emulate his father, who saddled Captain Christy to victory in the same two races. He had a Cheltenham Festival success this year with Ninetieth Minute in the Coral Cup.

John Smith's Grand National Record: 2007 Slim Pickings (3rd), 2008 Slim Pickings (4th), Tumbling Dice (UR 3rd)


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