Two Cumbrian-trained horses will take part in the prestigious Aintree Festival – which includes the Grand National – this week.
And Greystoke trainer Nicky Richards says he hopes they have both got good each-way chances at the racecourse.
Nicky is planning to run Looking Well and Takingrisks at the three-day meeting, which gets under way tomorrow and culminates with the world famous Grand National steeplechase on Saturday.
He said: “Aintree is completely different to anywhere else. They will both need luck in running.”
Grand National-style fences, which had been built at the Greystoke yard in order to give them both a feel for the obstacles which they are set to encounter this week, were due to be taken down yesterday.
Asked if the pair had taken well to the unique fences, Nicky replied: “They wouldn’t be running if they didn’t”.
Looking Well, owned by David Wesley Yates, has been declared for tomorrow’s Foxhunters Chase – which is one of only three races which are run over the Grand National fences at the Aintree Festival – but unlike the national itself, which is over four miles long, the Foxhunters is less than three miles in distance, and is only open to amateur riders.
Taking the reins will be Cork-based John Barry.
A leading point-to-point rider, Barry has ridden several high-class horses on the circuit before they were to become household names on the racecourses of Britain and Ireland, including last month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Minella Indo.
“They go a good gallop round there and you’ve got to stay.
“He has plenty of good form at three miles so hopefully he’ll get into a good old rhythm and I think Looking Well has got a nice each-way chance,” said Nicky.
On Saturday, Takingrisks, owned by Langwathby-based Frank Bird, will be bidding to become the first 12-year-old to win the world’s greatest steeplechase since Amberleigh House in 2004.
Having won the Scottish National in 2019, Takingrisks then sprang a 40-1 surprise in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster in January and he is set to be again partnered by Sean Quinlan, who is based at Bolton, near Appleby.
There is a history of Greystoke-trained horses having done well in the Grand National.
Nicky’s late father, Gordon, was lucky enough to win it a couple of times, with Lucius in 1978, and Hallo Dandy in 1984, and the yard has had few placed horses in it, but the main thing will be for the horses to get round and safely back.
“And that goes for every horse in the field,” said Nicky.
On Saturday, with six owners per horse allowed, Richards said he would imagine that they would be a few of the Bird family there, but there will not be the usual “electric atmosphere” created by the 70,000-strong crowd of racegoers.
“It’s a shame it’s behind closed doors, but no doubt the jockeys will be well up for it,” said Nicky.