Ballabriggs ready for defence

by Michelle Fortune , 10 April 2012

Ballabriggs is working better than he has before as he prepares to defend his John Smith's Grand National crown at Aintree on Saturday.

No horse has won back-to-back Grand Nationals since Red Rum managed the feat in 1973 and 1974 and Ballabriggs would appear to have it all to do if he is to follow in the footsteps of the legendary chaser.

Donald McCain, whose father Ginger trained Red Rum, is delighted with how well his 11-year-old is looking ahead of the National and he expecting the Trevor Hemmings-owned gelding to put in another pleasing run over the famous Aintree fences.

"We've won a Grand National so the pressure's off to an extent - he goes there as reigning champ but he is bouncing. He's been working as well, if not better, than I've ever seen him work before," McCain told the Racing UK podcast.

"The way he took to the fences last year, you'd expect him to run well again."

McCain will be double-handed in the showpiece with Charlie Hall Chase winner Weird Al set to take his chance.

The trainer had considered running him in Thursday's Betfair Bowl but he has finally decided to let him take his chance in the Grand National.

"There's only one Grand National and we didn't think there was a great benefit going for the other race," added McCain.

"He can only be fragile for so long. He's a racehorse and there is a job for him to do and we think he could take to the place. He's ready to go and deserves his chance."

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