Morris planning Aintree return
The Randox Health Grand National might be five months away, but trainer Mouse Morris is already plotting a route back to Aintree in the spring.
Mouse Morris (r) is planning a return to Aintree
Morris won the great race last season with Rule The World and has earmarked three potential candidates he believes will be suited by the unique demands of the National.
Rogue Angel will gain first-hand experience of the imposing Merseyside birch when he runs in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase on Saturday
Thunder And Roses, the 2015 Irish Grand National winner, was pulled up in the Becher last year, but Morris is keen for him to return to Aintree in April.
Both horses are owned by Gigginstown House Stud, in whose colours Rule The World carried to glory last season.
Morris said: "Rogue Angel is in really good form and he'll run in Liverpool and we'll see what happens after that.
"The plan is to have one or two more runs before the Grand National to keep him fresh.
"Thunder And Roses is also well, and the plan is to run him at Fairyhouse (Porterstown Handicap) this weekend."
The County Tipperary handler's other potential National hope at this early stage is Dromnea, who finished down the field in the Topham at Aintree in April.
Morris said: "He was fourth at Clonmel (Clonmel Oil Chase) earlier in the month and might run next in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas."
Morris admitted that he will never forget last year's race and reflected on that feat at his County Tipperary stables on a beautifully sunny morning in the countryside just to the south of Fethard.
Rule The World, who retired to his owner's Gigginstown House Stud after running at Punchestown in late April, paraded around the yard, which he had returned to for the first time since.
Morris said: "I have never seen Rule The World look better ever – credit to the team up in Gigginstown. I might even bring him back! No, seriously, we won't.
"He is only nine, but he had had so many problems and where do you go after winning the Grand National? Anyway, he retired at the top.
"He had been running in Grade One races but had been second, second and second. He finished second in the Irish National (2015) – he was a class horse before his fractures. He did not reach his full potential and may have won a Gold Cup if he had.
"There is no point in sleeping if you don't dream – to win the Grand National with him was a dream come true. In my day (as a jockey) the fences were bigger and harder – nowadays you need a class horse to win – it is still special and quite spectacular but they have compromised on the fences and Aintree have done a good job.
"Everybody knows about the Grand National – it is worldwide – nearly 600 million people watch it – only 60 million watched Trump. I had letters and emails from all around the world."