Cappa Bleu

Evan Williams believes Cappa Bleu 'will improve massively for that run'

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham ( 

Cappa Bleu likely to head straight for the National

EVAN WILLIAMS professed himself to be "very happy" with Cappa Bleu's run at Ascot on Saturday, as the 11-year-old produced a fine weight-carrying performance behind Vino Griego, a run that enhanced his claims for this year's John Smith's Grand National.

Fourth at Aintree last year, Cappa Bleu travelled well for jockey Paul Moloney throughout, beaten two-and-a-half lengths in the 3m Listed chase off top weight of 11st 10lb, with bookmakers cutting his odds to a general 14-1 (from 20) for the Grand National on April 6.

Williams said on Monday: "I'm very happy with the way he ran and we're delighted with him. He travelled quite beautifully, but we've probably blown up at the wrong stage of the race - fitness has probably caught him out between four from home and turning in - and then he's got his second breath.

"I'm delighted with the way he knuckled down after the second last and over the last, he ran to the line which was lovely to see."

Williams had warned that Cappa Bleu would benefit for a first outing since last November, as the Grand National had always been the target for the season, and added: "He will improve massively for that run, as I hope everybody can see. It was a three-mile race and we're running a four-and-a-half miler.

"He will come on and hopefully that will put him spot on for the Grand National. It's highly unlikely he'll go off our place again, I imagine we'll go straight there (to Aintree) but I wouldn't like to say that's set in stone."

As sporting sights go, few match the sheer excitement of 40 horses thundering towards the first fence at Aintree for the John Smith's Grand National.

A race steeped in history that always provides a story, the Grand National is the ultimate test of endurance and skill for both horse and jockey, as the pairing must navigate 30 treacherous fences, and then still have enough stamina to make a challenge on the run-in.

To manage a clear round in the 4m4f epic is no mean achievement, with the fences notoriously difficult and offering unique challenges.

Over the years, there have been countless memorable moments, Devon Loch's phantom leap in the 1956 contest, Foinavon's shock 100-1 win in 1967 and the brilliance of Red Rum, who took the chase on three occasions in 1973, 74 and 77.

In 1981 Aldaniti and Bob Champion completed a heartwarming tale when winning the race, as Aldaniti had recovered from a career-threatening injury while jockey Champion had battled back from cancer.

In 2011 the race provided another fairytale story as Donald McCain emulated his father and Aintree legend Ginger when winning with Ballabriggs - and that came just a year after champion jockey Tony McCoy finally gained victory in the race at the 15th time of asking.