Weird Al - Wetherby 29.10.2011

Weird Al could return in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby next season

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Weird Al and Ballabriggs 'bright and well'

DONALD McCAIN on Sunday reported both Weird Al and Ballabriggs to be bright and well after their exertions in Saturday's John Smith's Grand National.

Weird Al received treatment at the course after taking a heavy fall at the fourth last fence but returned home with the rest of McCain's Aintree runners on Saturday night.

McCain said: "He took the skin off one of his fore legs when he came down and had a couple of stitches put in, but he came home with the other horses last night.

"I've seen him this morning and there's not a bother. He'seaten up fine and is actually quite bright. He will have a nice long break now and I would think he'll start in the Charlie Hall again next season."

The trainer also ran last year's winner Ballabriggs and was delighted with his run in sixth. The Trevor Hemmings-owned 11-year-old could return for a third tilt at the race next year.

McCain added: "He got a little bit hot with the mess around at the start but until then he was grand. He went down to the last with every chance but the weight and the gallop on the day has just collared him, but I was very pleased with him.

"I spoke to Mr Hemmings this morningand there's no reason at this stage why he wouldn't go back for the race next year although he may have a little bit more racing beforehand."

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.