Weird Al - Wetherby 29.10.2011

Weird Al is a general 40-1 chance for the John Smith's Grand National

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Weird Al to join Ballabriggs in National

WEIRD AL will join last year's hero Ballabriggs in next Saturday's John Smith's Grand National after trainer Donald McCain confirmed him for the race.

A general 40-1 chance for the 4m4f marathon, Weird Al won the Charlie Hall Chase on his first start for McCain last October but was pulled-up in last month's Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The horse was reported to have bled at Cheltenham but after impressing his trainer recently, McCain has decided to run him at Aintree along with stablemate Ballabriggs.

Quoted in his Betfair column, the trainer said: "We just felt that he might not get the chance to run off such an attractive mark in the future and that he might be the sort of horse who would really take to the place - in the end, it's the Grand National and the decision really took care of itself.

"He was obviously below-par in the Gold Cup but he bled there and it clearly wasn't his true running - he has looked in great nick at home since."

Timmy Murphy, who won the 2008 National on Comply Or Die, will take the ride.  

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.