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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Mullins' National dozen

Trainer hopeful of seeing 12 horses run at Aintree, but Hughes labels Apalachi's weight a 'disgrace'

THERE was a generally positive reaction to the announcement of this year's Aintree Grand National weights from Irish trainers , however, Dessie Hughes did brand the decision to give 13-year-old Black Apalachi 11st3lbs "a disgrace."

A total of 31 Irish-trained horses remain in the race and potentially there could be almost half of the 40-runner field Irish trained judging by yesterdays weights announcement.

Willie Mullins has a total of 12 entries for the race and he said yesterday: "The likes of Quiscover Fontaine, Prince De Beauchine, On His Own, Shakervilz, The Midnight Club, and Scotsirish are horses we are actively going to the National with.

"They're all horses that I would love to get to the National and the rest are in but we'll see what happens."

The trainer, who won the race with Hedgehunter in 2005 added: "The plan is for Quel Esprit to go for the Gold Cup and then I would imagine he'll come back for the Punchestown Gold Cup after that.

"Blazing Tempo is a good jumper and will go to Cheltenham first so I'm not sure about her. Apt Approach runs this weekend over two and a half miles and will go to Cheltenham so we'll see how he is.

"Some Target goes to Haydock at the weekend and probably won't get in. Uncle Junior goes to the cross country at Cheltenham and will love the trip in the National if I can persuade someone to ride him and we'll have to see about Cooldine."

Dessie Hughes commented: "Roberto Goldback is probably entitled to have that sort of weight (11st4lbs) on his level of form, but I think Black Apalachi's weight (11st3lbs) is a disgrace. He hasn't run in almost two-years, he's a 13-year-old now and they haven't dropped him a pound.

"He's been round Aintree four times and has been unlucky a couple of times, but he can't be as good a horse as he was two years ago. The owners will be very disappointed and we'll have to have a think about whether we run him now.

Hughes concluded: "Rare Bob will probably run along with Roberto Goldback."

Last Sunday's Irish Hennessy Gold Cup third Treacle is an intended runner for Tom Taaffe who hit the crossbar in the race with Slim Pickings.

Taaffe was delighted that his charge is guaranteed to make the cut; "Treacle has come out of the Hennessy well and the Grand National is absolutely the plan," he said.

"He has gone up a stone in Ireland due to that run and otherwise he wouldn't have got into the National and that's why he ran at Leopardstown. He actually needed to run a good race and thank God, he's run his best race ever."

Taffee, admitted he was bought as a horse for Aintree, stating; He was bought as a three-year-old for the owner Mr Nielsen with the intention of being a National horse some day, but we didn't think that it would take eight years!

Silver Birch's trainer Gordon Elliott will be hoping to repeat that 2007 success with Chicago Grey or Tharawaat this year.

"Chicago Grey got 10st13lbs, which looks a great weight. I said if he got anything under 11st I'd be delighted, so I'm certainly not complaining.

"It's been the plan for him for a long time and his prep is coming along well."

Tony Martin said of Psycho: "He would be running off a mark of 153 and he's rated 148 in Ireland, so it's not all that different and a few pounds isn't going to make a lot of difference in a National"

Kerry National winner Alfa Beat has been targeted for the race by trainer Shark Hanlon who said; "I'm very happy with his weight but I wanted 11st! He will have a run at Down Royal in about three weeks.

"Good ground is vital to him and he should get it over there.

Irish Grand National winner Organisedconfusion took a crashing fall at Leopardstown last time out, but he could go back there for a prep run according to his trainer Arthur Moore.

"I am very happy with that, it's a nice racing weight. We hope to run at Leopardstown on Sunday fortnight or the following week at Naas and if all goes well he'll head on to Aintree."

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