The Grand National is just a couple of months away and excitement is already starting to build ahead of one of the biggest horse racing meetings in the world. Over half of adults in the United Kingdom are believed to have a punt on the race, whilst over 600 million people watch the excitement unfold worldwide. Punters are already racing to the bookies and scrambling online for the odds on the Aintree Grand National.
However, Native River’s owner Gareth Broom has urged those wanting to back the second favorite for the race in April to wait until after next month’s Cheltenham Festival.
The Brocade Racing owner spoke out following the bookmakers slashing Native River’s odds in half from 16/1 to 8/1, moving the 10-year-old into the second favorite and just behind two-time winner Tiger Roll in the betting.
“We are not ruling it out completely but I think it’s unlikely and I wouldn’t go saying anyone should back him for the Grand National until after the Gold Cup,” Broom told Racing Post.
“I think he has been dealt with fairly and has no complaints about his weight – I think it’s very reasonable.
“We have to get the Gold Cup over first and see how he comes out of it. If he puts everything into the Gold Cup as he has done before, then, if you look, he has not run again after his Gold Cup efforts.”
The decision to prioritize the Cheltenham Festival over the National is down to Native River’s new-found form. Blinkers were introduced to the Colin Tizzard-trained horse for the first time at Aintree in December and the former Welsh Grand National winner subsequently won the Grade Two Many Clouds Chase by a whopping 33 lengths over Black Corton.
Native River followed up his Aintree success with a win at Newbury earlier this month in the Grade Two Denman Chase beating Secret Investor by a much lesser two and three-quarter lengths. The victory saw Jonjo O’Neill Jr ride the 10-year-old instead of Richard Johnson and this boosted Broom’s hopes of regaining the Gold Cup for the first time since Kauto Star in 2009.
“I was very pleased with his performance with a new jockey as you never know,” the owner continued. “Jonjo got on really well with him and gave him a lovely ride.
“I’m hoping for a big race from him at Cheltenham and if he turns up in that form anyone who beats him will know they have been in a race.”
The news that Native River may not race in the National adds to the concern that favorite Tiger Roll could also be pulled from the race by his owners.
It was hoped that Tiger Roll could become the first horse to win the race three -times since the legendary Red Rum did so in 1973, ’74 and ’77, and actually one better Rummy’s record by doing so consecutively. However, following the weight announcement earlier this month the Gordon Elliott-trained horse’s race has been put into jeopardy with the owners claiming to be “disappointed” by the top weight given to Tiger Roll.