Aintree Ballabriggs 25 03 13
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Jason Maguire choses Ballabriggs once again in 2013 Grand National

| 25.03.2013

The news today that Jason Maguire has confirmed he’ll ride 2011 Grand National winner Ballabriggs for a third successive tilt at the Aintree prize can be taken as a fair vote of confidence in the 12-year-old’s well being. He can be backed at 25/1 with Coral for this year’s race.

As stable jockey to Donald McCain Maguire also had the choice of riding much undervalued 40/1 horse Across The Bay, who has excellent National claims himself having slammed last year’s fourth Cappa Bleu by 28 lengths on his last start over fences.

Jason Maguire also has a close relationship with the yard of another Grand National winning trainer in Kim Bailey, who won the race with Mr Frisk in 1990, and would’ve been considered one of the forerunners to rider the Andoversford trainer’s The Rainbow Hunter, a 50/1 shot for the race with Coral.

Ballabriggs confirmed himself far from an Aintree one-hit-wonder when sixth last year, with an official rating of 160 meaning he carried second top weight of 11st 9lbs the length of the marathon 4m4f trip.

In his third run at the richest steeplechase in the world he’ll carry 11st4lbs as the weights stand and there is evidence to suggest he’s in fine form ahead of his bid to become only the third multiple Grand National winner in history, after Reynoldstown and the unparalleled Red Rum.

Ballabriggs has competed in the same Kelso chase before his last two National runs, finishing second in 2011 and fourth in 2010 and this year took third place. With the winners until they came to the last he was just outpaced over a 3m trip which will always have been on the short side for an out and out stayer of his ilk.

This represented something of a return to form for the 12-year-old, who had finished pulled up and last upon his two previous runs of the campaign, both of which came upon heavy ground.  He bounced back to form on soft ground at Kelso, keeping up a superb record of never having finished worst than third on that going but, given the Trevor Hemmings-owned geldings career highlight wins in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase at Cheltenham and the Grand National both came on good going there’s every reason to expect he may improve for better ground come April.