Join Together - Cheltenham 10.12.2011

Join Together: should be suited to the National fences according to Nicholls

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (  

Join Together out to give Nicholls fourth Becher

CHAMPION trainer Paul Nicholls will bid to continue his golden run of Saturday successes in the Betfred Becher Chase at Aintree after Join Together was revealed among 23 entries for the Grand National trial on Monday.

The sponsors reacted by making the seven-year-old their clear 8-1 favourite, although Problema Tic, Ballabriggs, Alfie Sherrin and West End Rocker are all snapping at his heels at 9-1.

Nicholls said: "He's in good form and will run in the Becher. I was a bit disappointed with him at Ascot but hopefully with different fences and a different day, he will do better.

"I don't think he is particularly well handicapped but he will probably be suited by the fences and, if he is, I will give him an entry in the John Smith's Grand National."

Nicholls is seeking his fourth victory in the race following Silver Birch (2004), Eurotrek (2006) and Mr Pointment (2007).

David Pipe could rely on Problema Tic and Swing Bill, and said: "Swing Bill ran in the race last year (when pulled-up) and is not getting any younger but he ran in the John Smith's Grand National and seems to like Aintree, though I wouldn't want the ground too soft for him. He is an intended runner at this stage.

"Problema Tic may also run but he is another who does not want conditions too soft. I was pleased with him at Cheltenham on his comeback."

The going on the National course was on Monday described as soft and the track's clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch did not rule out the possibility of conditions worsening before Saturday.

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.