The Package Cheltenham 11.12.2009

The Package: finished a creditable fourth in the Hennessy

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (  

Pipe pinning National hopes on The Package

DAVID PIPE, who saddled Comply Or Die to win the Grand National in 2008, on Tuesday nominated The Package as his number one hope of capturing the world's greatest chase for the second time.

Pipe, whose father Martin won the race with Miinnehoma in 1994, was in London on Tuesday when the weights for the Aintree marathon were revealed.

He has four contenders, but only The Package, who was given a weight of 10st 8lb, is guaranteed to make the final cut on April 6.

Like Comply Or Die, he runs in the colours of David Johnson and was a creditable fourth in the Hennessy before being pulled up at Warwick last time.

Pipe, whose other contenders are Problema Tic, Swing Bill and Matuhi, said: "The Package is the obvious one. His Hennessy form is rock solid. If we can get him back to that he must have a chance."

The Package is 25-1 for the National, in which David Bridgwater could field the improving Wyck Hill, who ranges from 20-1 to 25-1 for the John Smith's-sponsored showpiece.

Bridgwater, whose nine-year-old is also entered in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, said: "He's in at Kempton a week on Saturday and we'll see how he gets on in that.

Phil Smith handicapper

BHA handicapper Phil Smith

  PICTURE: John Grossick  

"I gauge him against Katenko, who we outstayed at Ascot, so our weight is good. He's a big horse so should take to the fences."

Chief BHA handicapper Phil Smith, who frames the National weights at his discretion, nominated Wyck Hill, Imperial Commander and The Rainbow Hunter as the trickiest horses to assess.

Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, 2010 Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander is set to return to Cheltenham for the big one in March and has been allotted 11st 6lb for Aintree.

Twiston-Davies, a National winner with Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002), said: "Phil Smith is a little pussycat, he is so kind.

"Imperial's next race is the Gold Cup but what a hell of a consolation prize if that doesn't work out."

Don't miss Wednesday's Racing Post for all the reaction to the Grand National weights, Pricewise's take on the race and an interview with leading owner Graham Wylie - download the paper from 3am or get the first iPad edition from 8pm

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.