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Grand National Meeting Preview: The Favourites

If winning a Grand National is about staying power, then no wonder Sam Thomas’s horse Our Power is among the favourites at Aintree this weekend.

Welsh trainer Thomas has come through the most testing of six months since he and Our Power’s owner, Dai Walters, were involved in a helicopter crash back in November.

But both men have shown they have the kind of resilience and gritty determination often associated with the world’s most famous horse race and so Thomas would be a popular winner, should Our Power surge past the winning post on Saturday.

Currently priced around the 20/1 mark, Our Power only sneaked into the race at the bottom of the weights, but he has run just twice this season and won on both occasions.

The eight-year-old won the London Gold Cup at Ascot and then added another valuable prize in the shape of the Coral Trophy at Kempton.

“I can’t begin to imagine what it would feel like to win,” says Thomas, who could become the first Welsh trainer to win the Grand National since 1905.

“I’m well aware of what it takes to get round and after everything that’s happened this season, it’s just nice to be going there at all.

“I probably don’t realise the magnitude of it already, but since we’ve known we’ve got a run we’ve had so much interest.

“It really is such a big thing for the country and I’m very proud that we can go there and fly the flag for Wales.

“There are some fantastic Welsh trainers in the area, I’ve grown up watching Evan Williams and Tim Vaughan training lots of good winners and to be in among some of these trainers has been a pinch yourself moment.”

Our Power is on the fringes of the top 10 contenders, but another horse with Welsh connections for the race – Noble Yeats – is currently 8/1 third favourite.

Wales’ Sean Bowen has the ride and will feel confident he can become the first Welsh jockey to win the Grand National since Carl Llewellyn on Earth Summit in 1998.

Noble Yeats and Bowen finished strongly in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month, suggesting he could well emulate Tiger Roll with back-to-back Grand National victories, albeit with different jockeys as Sam Waley-Cohen won 12 months ago.

Currently leading the betting is the Scottish-trained Corach Rambler at 13/2, which will be ridden by Derek Fox after he overcame a shoulder injury last week.

Trained by Lucinda Russell, Corach Rambler won the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last month and both Fox and Russell have Aintree pedigree. They teamed up to win the 2017 Grand National with One For Arthur.

Just ahead of Noble Yeats in the betting at  present is Delta Work, who won well at the Cheltenham festival in the Cross Country Chase.

Trained by Gordon Elliot, Delta Work finished third in the Grand National a year ago, and is fancied by many to go better this time.

Irish trio Any Second Now, Gaillard Du Mesnil and Mr. Incredible are all priced around the 14/1 mark, with the best of them possibly the Willie Mullins-trained Mr. Incredible.

Described as “quirky” in his younger days, the seven-year-old finished third in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham with Mullins’ son Patrick in the saddle.

Further down  the betting  is another Welsh horse, Eva’s Oskar, at around 33-1, trained by Cowbridge-based Tim Vaughan and ridden by Welsh jockey, Alan Johns.

Eva’s Oskar has achieved two impressive Cheltenham performances this season when finishing second at the November meeting and going one better the following month.

The entire Vaughan yard will be going up to Aintree to show their support and if either the grey or Our Power wins they will be acclaimed as a history-maker.

The last Welsh-trained Grand National winner – the one and only – was way back in 1905 with Kirkland taking the prize under Frank ‘Titch’ Mason, trained by Edward Thomas.

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