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Russell eyeing up Grade 1 targets with Corach Rambler

3 minute read

Lucinda Russell is eyeing up two Grade 1 targets for her Randox Grand National winner Corach Rambler en route to the defence of his Aintree crown.

CORACH RAMBLER winning the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase at Aintree in Liverpool, England.
CORACH RAMBLER winning the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase at Aintree in Liverpool, England. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Corach Rambler captured the hearts of many when landing the Randox Grand National at Aintree seven months ago and all roads lead back to the Merseyside venue as he bids to emulate the magnificent Tiger Roll, who went back-to-back in the world's greatest steeplechase in 2019.

However, before then Russell believes the now nine-year-old can compete at the top level in the chasing sphere, with potential tilts at the Betfair Chase later this month and the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup in March both on the cards.

Trainer Lucinda Russell is no stranger to Grand National success having also landed the prestigious prize back in 2017 with One For Arthur.

Russell said: "It's always been a dream - I love the Grand National, I love Liverpool and love everything connected with it. From when I was a little girl watching Red Rum, I always dreamt of winning the Grand National.

"It was quite a military plan when we won it with One For Arthur – getting him there was very exact. To then come back with Corach, who is a different horse in many ways, including that he was cheaper and was bought after lockdown. He was a horse that kept surprising us because at first, I thought he was just going to be a point-to-pointer, but he just improved and improved.

"We thought it was a bonus when he won his novice hurdles and then he went chasing and won his first chase at Aintree, where he remains unbeaten. When we schooled over an imitation Aintree fence, he immediately understood how to do it.

"Scu adores the horse and to have a horse like him running in the National was fantastic. To win it again – I don't want to say easily but he hit the front just before the last and was well in front on the run-in. Derek's timing on him was perfect.

"He does tend to look around a bit when he is in front, but he stuck there, and we don't know how much he had in hand so that is why this season we are also looking at other things as well."

Despite finishing a well-beaten fifth on his reappearance outing at Kelso recently, Russell remains keen to step the son of Jeremy up to Grade 1 company in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on November 25.

Russell continued: "He and Ahoy Senor are the same in that they both need their first run of the season.

"I think it is because they are both so good that the gallops at home are not really enough of a test for them, so they need to have a run. It is only November, and it is not really about just now – it's about March and April.

"I was delighted to have got the run into Corach Rambler. He definitely needed it. He is back now and will have a strict regime ahead of his next race to get him a bit more wound up."

Jockey Derek Fox, who has ridden Corach Rambler in all seven of his victories under rules, added:

"The ground at Kelso for Corach's reappearance was on the heavy side which doesn't really suit him – he goes on it but it's not his ideal ground. I think the combination of that and it being his first run of the season just had a bearing on his fitness, but he jumped well and raced with confidence. Hopefully, as the season goes on and the weather gets better it will suit him.

"He is a horse that only really ever does enough and for that reason, I think he is worth stepping up into open company for a race like the Betfair Chase. I am really looking forward to it.

As well as being a Grand National winner, Corach Rambler is also a dual Cheltenham Festival scorer, having landed the Ultima Handicap Chase in 2022 and 2023, and a return to the Home of Jump Racing for the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup seems to be on the agenda for 2024.

"It's a bit of a tester but we are going to run him at Haydock off level weights in the Betfair Chase in what will sort of be a Gold Cup trial. If he runs well, we can start looking at other conditions races and if not, we'll stick to the handicap route.

"Someone asked if we would do the Gold Cup and the Grand National, but I don't know if I could say that Cheltenham will be the warm-up for Aintree! But he does love Cheltenham and it is the right timing between the two races."

Corach Rambler is 25/1 to make a winning start in Grade 1 company at Haydock later this month with Paddy Power, whilst the same firm makes the nine-year-old a 20/1 chance to defend his Aintree crown in 2024.

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