x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Junior could get 'a rhythm' at Grand National

Gelding has form as trainer David Pipe and jockey Tom Scudamore team up for prestigious steeplechase.

Junior jumps to win by 24 lengths during the Festival at Cheltenham last year. David Davies / PA Archive
Junior jumps to win by 24 lengths during the Festival at Cheltenham last year. David Davies / PA Archive

Given the long history behind the Grand National it is hardly surprising that racing dynasties are heavily woven in to the fabric of the 4.5-mile steeplechase over the idiosyncratic fences at Aintree Racecourse.

The McCain family are part of an enduring legend. They saddled not only Red Rum to a record three winners in the 1970s but also Amberleigh House in 2004 and last year's winner, Ballabriggs.

Today, however, it is the Pipe and Scudamore families who will aim to cash in on the £535,135 (Dh3.13 million) first prize as the trainer David Pipe and the jockey Tom Scudamore team up with Junior.

Junior is in line to cap a rare treble of victories at some of Britain's most high-profile racing festivals. The journey started in June 2010 when the son of the 1997 Dubai World Cup winner Singspiel won the 2.5-mile Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting at Ascot Racecourse.

Junior, a nine-year-old gelding, won by five lengths but did not visit the winners' enclosure for another nine months when he won a race at the Festival at Cheltenham, the home of National Hunt racing, by 24 lengths.

"He's streetwise and if he can get into a nice rhythm, then fingers crossed," Pipe said.

The Grand National was first run in 1839. Forty horses will be in the line-up, and each will attempt to negotiate 30 fences, the most fearsome of which, Becher's Brook, stands at 5ft 2ins and has a 7ft drop on the other side.

A victory at Aintree would be a second in the Grand National for Pipe, whose Comply Or Die won four years ago, while his father, Martin, triumphed when training Miinnehoma in 1994.

It would be a first victory for Scudamore, and would ease some of the anguish felt by his father, Peter. Despite eight champion jockey titles in the 1980s and early 90s, fuelled by the pioneering stable of Martin Pipe, Peter Scudamore never won the Grand National.

However, his father, Michael, jumped the 30 fences near Liverpool aboard Oxo in 1959 faster than anyone else.

"Granddad had a fair bit of luck so I hope he hasn't used it all up for us," said Tom Scudamore.

sports@thenational.ae