Any Currency - Ascot 20.11.09

Any Currency: set to have first run over Aintree's famous fences

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Keighley looking forward to seeing Currency run

MARTIN KEIGHLEY is looking forward to finally seeing Any Currency run over the Grand National fences when he faces 15 rivals in Saturday's Betfred Becher Chase at Aintree.

The nine-year-old missed making the line-up for the world's most famous race by one in April and he will have his first start over the unique fences after a staying-on fourth in the Henrietta Knight Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on November 17.

Keighley said: "Any Currency has been in really good form since his run at Cheltenham.

"He had a wind operation over the summer which seems to have really helped him because he used to hit flat spots in his races. He was impressive when he won the Desert Orchid at Wincanton and then was a good fourth at Cheltenham in a competitive race.

"The testing conditions will be fine for him as he stays so well and Aidan Coleman gets on really well with him, so he must go there with a big chance. He has his own way of jumping but I think that will really suit him around Aintree.

"He has an entry at Sandown, which is probably the easier option, but I am very keen to see him over those Grand National fences and I'm looking forward to it."

As well as 2011 Grand National hero Ballabriggs, the field also includes the two past winners of the Becher Chase, with last season's impressive victor West End Rocker lining up as well as Hello Bud, who triumphed in 2010.

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.