By Simon Jackson.
Entries close on Tuesday for the £1million Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree in April where Monbeg Dude bids to improve on his seventh place finish in last year’s race.
Monbeg Dude, owned by Mike Tindall, James Simpson-Daniel, Nicky Robinson and trainer Michael Scudamore, was amongst the leading contenders for the 2014 Grand National and put in a creditable performance when finishing 22 lengths adrift of winner Pineau De Re.
The 10-year-old has run well when finishing in the money in all of his three starts this season. He was second in a three-mile handicap chase on his comeback at Chepstow in October, before finishing fourth to Many Clouds in the Hennessy Gold Cup over three and a quarter miles at Newbury in late November.
Scudamore’s charge was again stepped up in distance for the Welsh National, over three miles and five furlongs at Chepstow on December 27, where he was beaten eight and a half lengths into fourth place.
The three results have pleased Scudamore, who intends to give his stable star two more runs ahead of the four mile, three and half furlong Grand National on April 11.
“Monbeg Dude is in really good form and it is all systems go for Aintree,” Scudamore said.
“I have been delighted with him so far this season. He has just bumped into a couple of better horses on the day. He carried a lot of weight in the Welsh National, which probably didn’t help him, but he still ran his race.
“We have got nothing set in stone for him between now and Aintree. He has an entry in the Grand National Trial at Haydock [February 14], so we will have to see about that, and then I suppose we would like to get another run into him about four weeks before the National.”
Scudamore’s charge was one of the more fancied runners in last year’s Grand National after impressing with the manner of his victory in a Grade 3 at Cheltenham.
But despite that big-race success, Scudamore endeavoured to improve Monbeg Dude’s jumping ahead of the 2014 Grand National and welcomed the input of Tindall’s wife, Zara Phillips.
“A lot has come together with the horse and Zara’s input has been huge,” Scudmore said at the time. “Her work has just made him a little more aware where his feet are over the obstacles. That’s what eventing horses is all about, they have a completely different way of looking at it.”
Entries for the Crabbie’s Grand National will be revealed at noon on Wednesday, February 4.
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.