Junior (right): now joint-favourite for Grand National with LadbrokesPICTURE: Martin Lynch
Junior cut to joint-favourite for National
JUNIOR'S narrow defeat in the Williamhill.com Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster on Saturday led to the nine-year-old being promoted to joint-favouritism for the John Smith'sGrand National with Ladbrokes.
After a gallant effort conceding nearly two stone and going down by a short head to Ikorodu Road, Ladbrokes made Junior a 10-1 shot at the head of their market with Prince De Beauchene.
Both jockey Tom Scudamore and trainer David Pipe were delighted with the run, and Pipe, who was at Newbury rather than Doncaster, said: "I haven't actually seen it but he must have run a blinder. It's all systems go now for Aintree."
Last year's winner Ballabriggs was also in action, finishing fourth on his seasonal reappearance at Kelso, a performance which led to Ladbrokes making him a 12-1 chance [from 16] to retain his crown.
TrainerDonald McCain was suitably pleased as he said: "I'm very happy with him. I did try to warn people he would just need the run, he's had a good healthy blow and Jason [Maguire] was very happy with him.
"We will get a gallop into him before Aintree, it's not about today, it's all about April 14 [date of Grand National]."
David Williams, spokesman for the firm, said: "Despite defeats for both Junior and Ballabriggs we thought both horsesenhanced their appeal for Aintree."
In what was a busy day for the Grand National ante-post market, last year's fifth Niche Market was another to run a creditable race, finishing a half length second to Marufo in a veteran's chase at Doncaster.
The Paul Nicholls-trained 11-year-old will now head for Aintree, and is a general 20-1 chance (from 25), with Boylesports going 16-1, (also from 25).