Finians Rainbow - Cheltenham 14/03/2012

Finian's Rainbow: steps up in trip at Aintree on Friday

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

Finian's the star name among Melling eight

CHAMPION Chase winner Finian's Rainbow will face seven rivals in Friday's Grade 1 John Smith's Melling Chase at Aintree.

A winner at last year's meeting, Finian's Rainbow will be stepping up in trip after coming out on top in a thrilling battle with Sizing Europe at the Cheltenham Festival last month.

 

The field for the 2m4f contest was reduced by three at Wednesday's declaration stage, with Cue Card, Medermit and Tartak removed from the field.

Albertas Run, winner of the race in 2010 and runner-up in last month's Ryanair Chase, looks thebiggest danger to Finian's Rainbow's on paper, in a field that also includes Kauto Stone and Wishfull Thinking.

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.