The team behind Corach Rambler have given Scotland two Grand National winners in six years, with Lucinda Russell and Derek Fox once again enjoying Aintree glory in 2023.
Six years after One For Arthur scooped the Aintree marathon – becoming only the second Scottish-trained winner – Russell had another stellar contender for Grand National glory via dual Cheltenham Festival winner Corach Rambler.
Going into the National as the best-handicapped contender after his Cotswolds win, Corach Rambler delivered in fine style to end a run of five straight Irish-trained winners in the great race.
Another tilt at the Grand National awaits in 2024 but there is first hope that this progressive nine-year-old can develop into a Cheltenham Gold Cup contender with his stamina and course form sure to play to his strengths.
|Where||Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool|
|When||5.15, Saturday 13th April 2024|
|How to watch||bet365 live Sports Streaming Service, ITV and Racing TV|
|Odds||Corach Rambler 20/1, Kitty’s Light 20/1, Fastorslow 25/1, Gaillard Du Mesnil 25/1, Noble Yeats|
Corach Rambler marked himself down as a major Grand National hope following his second victory in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
To win that gruelling handicap in successive years requires plenty of ability and, on the back of that Cotswolds victory, he officially found himself 10lb well-in for the Grand National.
The weights for Aintree were confirmed in February and, on the back of his Cheltenham victory, the handicapper confirmed that if the chance had existed to re-assess, Corach Rambler would have been running from a mark of 156 in the big race – as opposed to allotted 146 he was able to go to Merseyside with in reality.
Six years after One For Arthur famously gave them Aintree glory, Russell and Fox once again scored for Scotland in the world's most iconic jumps race.
One For Arthur died in retirement just three weeks before the 2023 National, and his loss had been keenly felt by Russell and Peter Scudamore – her partner and assistant trainer – an enormously popular couple that have always made their love for the animals in their care abundantly clear.
The 8/1 shot, owned by a seven-member syndicate who bought him for £17,000 in 2020, soared over the last of the 30 jumps at Aintree and bounded clear to a commanding success, despite the fact he idled somewhat in front after the elbow.
Gavin Cromwell's Vanillier (20/1) closed late on before finishing second with Gaillard Du Mesnil (10/1) in third place for Willie Mullins and last year's winner Noble Yeats coming an honourable fourth.
For both winning rider Fox and trainer Russell, it was another momentous Aintree afternoon.
Fox needed a late fitness test to even be declared fit enough to ride in the 175th staging of the world's most famous steeplechase.
"He is just a phenomenal horse. I can't believe it. He normally gets his head up a wee bit but today he travelled everywhere," Fox told ITV. "He is the cleverest horse. He is so intelligent."
Six years after One For Arthur, Russell suggested this win was "a bit different" and it certainly had played with her emotions.
"I cried for most of the race and then as he started (to get into it) I realised he loved it," she said.
"He just loved the fences, he just loved everything about it. It's very personal this one... I'll always remember One For Arthur, he was a brilliant horse, but this is just very special."
Corach Rambler is a nine-year-old but he certainly has time on his side for more success.
He's had just 10 starts over fences, winning five of them, and there could still be plenty more to come from him.
He's a 20/1 chance to come to Aintree in 2024 and defend his National crown, while connections may be pondering another Cheltenham Festival too.
He became the fourth horse to win the Ultima twice – following Sentina (1957, 1958), Scot Land (1982, 1983) and Un Temps Pour Tout (2016, 2017) – but so far no horse has done it three times.
Corach Rambler travelled like a dream at Aintree is his biggest success to date and, while the handicapper is sure to apply some more pressure, it's far from certain that his glory days are done.
Connections have confirmed that they are priming their stable star at a Gold Cup campaign, with him on course to make his return to action in the 3m2f Edinburgh Gin Chase at Kelso on 28th October.
All being well, Corach Rambler will line up in the Gold Cup and the Grand National next Spring and he is 20/1 to win the Cheltenham showpiece, although there will be stiff competition from the likes of Galopin Des Champs, Gerri Colombe and Shishkin.
Russell’s charge is officially rated 159 so he must find plenty of improvement before he can be considered a Gold Cup contender, but having had only 10 chase starts that is possible.