Finians Rainbow - Cheltenham 14/03/2012

Finian's Rainbow: will step-up in trip in the John Smith's Melling Chase

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

Finian's Rainbow heads Melling Chase entries

QUEEN Mother Champion Chase hero Finian's Rainbow will face a maximum of ten rivals when he contests Friday's John Smith's Melling Chase at Aintree.

In one of the races of the festival, Finian's Rainbow got the better of a titanic battle with Sizing Europe and steps up in trip to contest Friday's 2m4f Grade 1 contest.

Albertas Run, winner of the race in 2010 and runner-up in the Ryanair Chase last month, also featuresamong Saturday's entries, along with Ryanair third Medermit and Arkle runner-up Cue Card.

On a star-studded card, Supreme Novices' Hurdle runner-up Darlan heads 21 entries for the Grade 2 Tangle Teaser Top Novices' Hurdle, while Champion Court and Join Together are among 11 entries for the John Smith's Mildmay Novices' Chase.

Fingal Bay, who missed the Cheltenham Festival through injury, could make his return to action in the John Smith's Sefton Novices' Hurdle, after featuring among 29 possibles for the race.  

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.