GBI RACING

Gavin Cromwell expects Aintree ground to be key to Raz De Maree's National hopes

Raz De Maree on his way to wining the Welsh National Ground conditions will be key in deciding whether Raz De Maree will line up in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree following his heroic victory in the Welsh equivalent on Saturday.
Runner-up to Native River in last year's Coral Welsh Grand National, Gavin Cromwell's 13-year-old went one better with a determined performance under 16-year-old rider James Bowen.
Raz De Maree is the oldest horse since before the war to win the Chepstow showpiece, with Bowen the youngest rider, and Cromwell reported his veteran to be in rude health after arriving back in Ireland.
"He travelled through the night and got back into the yard around 6.30am. He's out in the paddock now and he's in good order," the trainer told Press Association Sport.
"It was a great result and a fantastic day. He'd had a good preparation and I was hopeful going into the race that he hadn't lost any of his enthusiasm.
"If it wasn't for the statistics and people saying a 13-year-old couldn't win it, I would have been even more hopeful and it was great it all came together on the day."
Raz De Maree is a 40-1 shot with Coral to claim Grand National glory on Merseyside in April.
He was eighth on his first attempt in 2014 when trained by the late Dessie Hughes and unseated his rider at the sixth fence - Becher's Brook - last season.
He could bid to make it third time lucky, but only if testing conditions prevail and he has the Midlands National at Uttoxeter - in which he finished second in 2015 - and the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse as possible alternatives.
Cromwell added: " There's the Irish National, the Midlands National and the English National. He'll run in one of those all being well and won't run again beforehand.
"The problem we've got is the English National is the last of the three and there could be a danger that we wait for that and then the ground comes up good and we'd regret it.
"It won't be an easy decision and we'll just have to see how things stand nearer the time.
"He was unlucky in Aintree last year as he sidestepped a faller and unseated his rider and he has jumped round there before."

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