Grand National 2017: Sam Waley-Cohen out to add to great record at Aintree

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Sam Waley-Cohen.

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SAM WALEY-COHEN bids to add to his tremendous record over the Aintree fences when he rides The Young Master in the Randox Health Grand National on April 8.

The 34-year-old amateur rider has won six races over the National fences with three wins in the Fox Hunters’ Chase, two in the Topham Chase and one in the Becher Chase. He also rode Oscar Time to finish second in the 2011 Grand National won by Ballabriggs.

The talented rider, best known for his successes on Long Run in the King George VI Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup, opened his account at Aintree when winning the Fox Hunters’ Chase in 2005 on Katarino.

He bagged a double the next year over the unique fences when winning the Fox Hunters again on Katarino and the Topham Chase on Liberthine. Waley-Cohey followed up with victories on Warne in the 2014 Fox Hunters and Oscar Time in the 2014 Becher Chase; then Rajdhani Express in the 2015 Topham Chase.

This year the jockey has a live chance of finishing close up on what will be his eighth mount in the Grand National when he rides the Neil Mulholland-trained The Young Master, who is part-owned by the jockey’s father, Robert Waley-Cohen.

The Young Master is priced at 20-1 for the extended four mile contest that carries £1million in total prize money and connections believe that the horse may be at his best at this time of the year. Mulholland’s charge landed the Group 3 bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown Park in April 2016 and at his most recent start pleased his owner when sixth in the Group 3 Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

“The Young Master seems to have come out of his race at Cheltenham very well and it’s all systems go for Aintree,” said Robert Waley-Cohen, who owns the horse in partnership with Sir Martin and Steve Broughton after purchasing a 50 per cent share of the horse from Mike Burbidge who retains the other half-share.

“We would have preferred it if he had finished third at Cheltenham, as he did last season, but his run was fine.

“He seems to be a spring horse and runs well at this time of year, so hopefully that will continue at Aintree.

“You hardly dare say that Sam has a great record over the fences as one day it is going to catch up with you with a fall. He has had a couple of falls over the fences and some great wins too.

“The horse’s weight (10st 12lb) is exactly where I expected it to be – I have no arguments with his rating. In a race like the Randox Health Grand National, with 40 runners, you only need some minor interference for a pound or two to make no difference at all.”

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