National Pride

There is always a story behind the Grand National; tears, cheers, rage and unbridled joy have all played their part in the history of the world’s greatest steeplechase. Despite its phoenix like rise from the ashes in the 1980s, the Grand National continues to go through troubled times. However, if you love horse racing – this is jump racing at its most spectacular.
Only 40 runners can make the tapes come 6th April but the horse that really takes my interest for the race currently sits on number 61 in the entries. Alfie Sherrin has been on my radar for the Grand National ever since he won the JLT Speciality Chase Handicap Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. I interviewed his trainer Jonjo O’Neill at the beginning of the season and was delighted to hear that the Grand National was indeed the seasonal target for this ten year old son of Kayf Tara. He has been eye catching on both starts this season, especially when staying on into 7th place behind fellow National entry Colbert Station at Leopardstown in December. Both horses carry the green and gold of JP McManus. At the time of writing, Alfie Sherrin is widely available at 33/1 in the Grand National betting odds from William Hill.
Of the entries that will definitely get a run, Join Together really appeals. My concern is that as an eight year old this race may come too soon; although it’s not unheard of for an eight year old to land the prize. Bindaree was the last horse to do so in 2002. There was something about the way Join Together stormed up the elbow in the Becher Chase that screamed “National”. He was just denied by the superstar pensioner Hello Bud that day, but there is definitely more to come from this fellow, most likely over the Aintree fences. If 2013 isn’t his year, 2014 could be, but by then he could have his stablemate Rocky Creek to deal with but that’s for discussion next year; everything in good time. Join Together is around 20/1 in the ante post markets, he won’t be that as the tapes go up for the world’s greatest horse race.
The Grand National is like every great love; it will make you laugh, it will make you cry. Your heart will sing with the sheer wonder of it all, you will also experience deep sorrow. It’s not for the fainthearted, it’s dangerous but it’s beautiful. I guess that’s all part of the fun.