Ryedale horses set for Grand challenge

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THE preparations could not have gone much better for the two Ryedale horses who are running in tomorrow’s Grand National.

And the trainers of Character Building and King Fontaine, both based in Norton, near Malton, are praying for that “little bit of luck” which could make all the difference in the gruelling four and a half mile marathon at Aintree this afternoon.

Trainer John Quinn is hoping Character Building can top last year’s effort which saw the 11-year-old and female jockey Nina Carberry, who returns this year, come home unscathed to finish seventh.

And he believes that familiarity with the course will stand both in good stead when they tackle the gruelling steeplechase.

“He’s ready, he’s fit and his training has gone well,” said Quinn, who has training bases at Highfield Stables in Norton and Bellwood Cottage in Settrington.

“Last year he had niggly problems and only two to three runs but he’s had five runs this year and much better preparation.”

Character Building ran well at Doncaster in the Grimthorpe Chase Handicap and has been staying well, he told the Evening News.

“We are happy with him. Now all we need is that bit of luck.”

The same is said by Malcolm Jefferson who returns to the Grand National for the first time since 2009.

King Fontaine, in its second season at Newstead Cottage Stables, Norton, has had four runs this year - winning the first two, suffering a mistake in the third before “running a blinder” at Cheltenham.

“He is looking good and is nice and fresh,” said the trainer. “We couldn’t be happier with him and he’s done everything right and he ticks a lot of of the right boxes.

He will be ridden by Denis O’Regan and Jefferson is confident King Fontaine has the staying power to make it round the course.

“It is a big challenge. The other thing is you have to have luck.

So many things can happen in the National - it’s one of those things. I would say if everything went right and we had luck in the running, I think he could have a really nice race tomorrow.”

But whatever the outcome, both trainers are looking forward to the razzamatazz and atmosphere which surrounds the world’s most famous steeplechase.

“It’s a great day for us,” said Quinn. “It’s like the FA Cup, one of the biggest races in the world. It’s nice for the owner, good for the lads - whatever you do in life you need something to look forward to.”