Russell hoping Aintree history is calling for Corach Rambler

By Sports Desk April 05, 2024

As a Randox Grand National winner Corach Rambler’s place in racing history is already assured. But superstar status awaits if he can make it back-to-back victories at Aintree.

A relatively inexpensive purchase at £17,000 from the Irish point-to-point field, the 10-year-old has given his trainer and the seven members of The Ramblers syndicate the ride of their lives.

Seven wins from 16 starts is admirable rather than amazing, but successive wins in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival followed by success in the world’s most famous steeplechase on Merseyside 12 months ago mean he has achieved far more than his connections could ever have dreamed of.

The current campaign got off to a poor start at Kelso, but a distant third in Haydock’s Betfair Chase suggested the tank was not empty and Corach Rambler hammered home that theory when picking up the bronze medal again in last month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, much to the delight of his proud trainer.

“We set him quite a stiff task (in the Gold Cup) really, but we wanted to give him a run and the timing works well for Aintree,” she said.

“I was absolutely delighted with the way he ran, to be third in a Gold Cup is fantastic in itself, whether you’re looking at the National or not.

“We were really pleased and I was actually quite touched as the reception he got from the crowd around the parade ring was amazing. He’s phenomenal and absolutely deserves it.”

There is just over four weeks between the Gold Cup and Grand National and Russell could not be happier with how Corach Rambler has both recovered and subsequently prepared for his return to Merseyside.

“It was a great run at Cheltenham and we were delighted, but at the same time we couldn’t rest on laurels at all as we had to get ready for Aintree,” she said.

“He had a nice, quiet 10 days. Normally we just give them a week, but we gave him a little bit longer after Cheltenham as the ground was a little bit soft for him that day.

“Time seems to have passed very quickly, but everything has been going according to plan.”

Corach Rambler’s staying-on effort behind reigning champion Galopin Des Champs in the Gold Cup can be taken one of two ways.

While on the one hand it may be seen as the perfect preparation for the defence of his Aintree crown – certainly a line bookmakers have taken by slashing his odds for a Grand National repeat – others have questioned whether what the handicapper considered a career-best performance may leave a mark.

Russell appears to be in the former camp, adding: “I think back to last year when he won the Ultima and he certainly had a hard enough race there before going on and winning at Aintree.

“We’ll see what happens on the day, but I think the way he has felt since Cheltenham, Scu (Peter Scudamore, partner and assistant) has been very happy with him.”

Corach Rambler is out to emulate the great Tiger Roll and the legendary three-time winner Red Rum by winning two Grand Nationals in succession, while Russell is out to notch a third win, having also struck gold with One For Arthur in 2017.

The Kinross handler has also enjoyed Grade One success at the Grand National meeting in recent years with Ahoy Senor and Apple Away, so it is no surprise she holds the three-day fixture in high esteem.

“I’ve always loved Aintree and it’s very much in my heart,” she said.

“I love Liverpool and love the people there. They look after the horses and owners so well and it’s a track I like winning at.

“I always said I wanted Corach Rambler to go down in history, and he has gone down in history by winning the National once. If he could do it twice, it would really establish him as one of the great racehorses in the country.”

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