Aspell eyes historic Grand National hat-trick


Leighton Aspell sees no reason why he cannot become the first jockey to win the Grand National three times in a row on favourite Many Clouds at Aintree on Saturday.

Aspell followed up his maiden victory in the world's most famous steeplechase aboard Pineau De Re in 2014 by riding Many Clouds to victory 12 months ago.

The Oliver Sherwood-trained Many Clouds is the favourite to defend his title in a field of 40 for the marathon race over four miles and two furlongs.

And 39-year-old Irishman Aspell is optimistic that he can make history on the nine-year stayer.

He said: "I've got to put it all to the back of my mind that he's favourite and I might be winning for the third time. Before the race you just get your game face on and give it the respect it deserves.

"It's a completely different atmosphere in the weighing room. There's 40 jockeys in there, and it's on everyone's mind, every moment. Cheltenham [Festival] is high pressure, but in the National, the chances of things going wrong are much higher."

He added: "Where I'm so lucky is that I promise you, you could ride Many Clouds with your eyes closed. I don't want to jinx him so he'll fall at the first, but if he can see the fence, he can work it out, he doesn't need me to tell him how to jump.

"That means I can focus on being in the right place at the right time, when to use energy and when to conserve it."

Silviniaco Conti is an eye-catching entry after skipping Cheltenham for a first shot at the Grand National.

The 10-year-old gelding won the Betfred Bowl at Cheltenham two years in a row before missing Cheltenham last month and also has two King George VI Chase triumphs to his name.

Trainer Paul Nicholls has backed Silviniaco Conti, ridden by Noel Fehily, to make the marathon trip after watching the horse put injury problems behind him to win at Ascot in February.

The Kim Bailey-trained Last Samuri is also a leading contender, while Jonjo O'Neill has two big hopes in the form of Shutthefrontdoor and Holywell.

Saint Are will aim to go one better after finishing second under Paddy Brennan last year and prevent Many Clouds from becoming the first horse since Red Rum in the 1970s to win back-to-back Grand Nationals.