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Henry Brooke: My Aintree Preview

With the weather playing havoc at lots of the northern jumps meetings over the past few days, my attention is now focusing on Grand National week at Aintree. It’s always one of my favourite times of the year. I have to admit I prefer Aintree to Cheltenham as there is a more relaxed and chilled vibe, which creates a nice atmosphere to ride in.

What is it like to ride Aintree?

At Aintree, you’ve got two courses: the Mildmay and the Grand National. The Mildmay is a genuine and fair track to ride, though it does have some sharp bends. Furthermore, the ground is usually good at this meeting, which makes it a level playing field for the majority of the horses.

When it comes to the Grand National Course, I love riding over the National Fences. I’ve managed to win a couple of times over them in my career, as I’ve won the Becher Chase twice on Highland Lodge and Gesskille. Overall, the fences are really inviting, and horses tend to back off them a little bit as they know they need to put in a good jump to get over them.

The trickiest fence, in my opinion, is Foinavon, which is the one after the famous Bechers Brook. Even though it’s the smallest fence on the course, it can sometimes catch you out because you are running downhill to it, and you’re normally just glad to make it over. There aren’t usually too many fallers at the fence, but it’s one I just don’t like.

When riding in races over the National Course, I like going up the inside and sticking as close to the paint as I can, as mad as it sounds. The main reason I like taking that route is because it saves up so much ground, which can make all the difference when it comes to the finish of the race. It also means that at the likes of Bechers Brook and The Canal Turn, you’re getting an advantage as the opposition tends to ride wide, meaning they cover more distance through the race.

As it stands, I don’t have any rides over the National Fences in either the Topham or the Grand National, but I’ve still got a couple of horses that I am looking forward to riding at Aintree.

My Aintree rides 

Homme Public (Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero)

Homme Public is set to go in the Red Rum Handicap Chase on Thursday. He’s been a good horse to me this season as we’ve won together at Wetherby and Cheltenham. However, last time out I was very impressed with gutsy attitude as he gave his all for me to win at Doncaster. This race has been the plan for him all spring, but ideally he would want the rain to stay away as most of his best form has come on good ground. If it does, I think he’s got a nice chance of running a solid race.

Making Headway (Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero)

It looks like we’re going to be stepping up in trip with Making Headway, after he ran a nice race to finish fourth in the Imperial Cup at Sandown last month. He shouldn’t have a problem going up in trip as he’s a point-to-point winner and he’s done well this season running over 2m. We’ll be going down the handicap route with the plan being to run him  in the 2m4f race on Friday. He’s already been to Aintree where he wasn’t disgraced in the Grade 1 Formby Novices’ Hurdle, so the track should be ok. I am very much looking forward to riding him.

I hope you all have a good week and enjoy watching the racing at Aintree!

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