Grand National hopefuls set for Grimthorpe test

The Last Samuri: has a big weight to carry around Doncaster

PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos) Grand National hopefuls set for Grimthorpe test
By David Carr 8:00AM 4 MAR 2017

ROONEY could be a big name on Merseyside once again this year, whether or not the speculation linking England star Wayne with a move back to Everton proves correct.

Paul and Clare Rooney went close to landing last season's Grand National with runner-up The Last Samuri and he is set to carry the owners' colours at Aintree once again next month.

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Twelve months ago their chaser scored impressively in the BetBright Grimthorpe Handicap Chase and trainer Kim Bailey has long had it in mind as a warm-up once again for a nine-year-old, who was a close third in the Becher Chase over the National fences in December.

"This is his prep race for the National and I'm happy with him," said Bailey. "He has top weight and weight will stop most horses eventually. He's only 15-3 so it's a lot of weight to carry, but he's very tough and I'm happy with him."

Definitly Red is also entered for Aintree and is reckoned by trainer Brian Ellison to have been on his way to finishing second when he unseated his rider three out in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in January.

Definitly Red is also entered for Aintree and is reckoned by trainer Brian Ellison to have been on his way to finishing second when he unseated his rider three out in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in January.

"He's in good form and he's schooled well," said Ellison. "I think he was going to be second when he got unseated at Haydock and he was hating the ground that day, he doesn't mind it soft or heavy but it was tacky and holding that day."

Definitly Red beat Wakanda by seven lengths when the pair were first and second in the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby over Christmas and he is 7lb worse off at the weights with that rival this time. He is 10lb worse off with the remote fourth Yala Enki.

"I was a bit disappointed with him at Haydock last time but it was big field and a competitive race," said trainer Sue Smith of Wakanda. "I don't know whether he can turn the tables with Definitly Red, but he's in good form and this is a handy-sized field so I hope he'll run a big race."

Venetia Williams, meanwhile, said of Yala Enki: "He's up against Definitly Red again and was well behind him at Wetherby, but any rain that falls will be helpful."

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