Mar 19 2014

Aintree Northern Media Lunch

Excitement builds for the Crabbie's Grand National today, as the Northern Media Lunch takes place at Aintree!

John Baker, Regional Director of Jockey Club Racecourses North West, kicked off the lunch by saying “It is fantastic to have £1 million in prize money for the Crabbie’s Grand National. It has been the aim at Aintree for a long time to do a £1-million Grand National and to do it with Crabbie’s is perfect. It is a fantastic partnership. Crabbie’s and their team have brought a huge amount of enthusiasm, commitment and passion to the race. The signs are good – sales on Grand National day (Saturday, April 5) are going well. We have already sold out of Tattersalls tickets for the day, a week ahead of last year. We still have tickets for the Steeplechase Enclosure but they are selling fast.”

photo-1Peter Eaton, Vice Chairman of Halewood International, the parent company to Crabbie’s, said: “We did think that one day we would get the opportunity to sponsor the Grand National. It was a dream of our founder John Halewood to sponsor the Grand National and with the help of Aintree we have managed to do it. There were lots of happy memories from the win of Amberleigh House in 2004. Our connection with Aintree has been going on for a long time and we are very proud to be part the Grand National.”

Phil Smith, the British Horseracing Authority’s Head of Handicapping, commented on the handicapping of some of the key horses, including Tidal Bay. He said: “Tidal Bay is a 13-year-old and he is carrying top-weight of 11st 10lb. I will be overjoyed if he wins as it will be great for the race for a top-weight to win. Tidal Bay has been a fantastic horse. I hope it will be a competitive race with a close finish. I think this year’s race is a significantly better contest than last year – just in terms of the depth of quality in the race.”

photo-3Rebecca Curtis, trainer of favourite Teaforthree, said: “He is in great form and has come out of the Cheltenham Gold Cup really well. I don’t think he had too hard a race, being allowed to coast home up the hill. He took to the Grand National fences last year. Maybe, with him being favourite, there is more pressure this year.”

We also heard from trainer Paul Nicholls who said today that Sam Twiston-Davies is likely to ride Tidal Bay. “I have four in the Grand National but the two main ones are Tidal Bay and Rocky Creek. His [Tidal Bay] form off top-weight in his last three handicaps has been very good. He is in good shape and ran very well in Ireland last week. I am looking forward to him running. The thing to do is to drop him out and not to rush him. It does not matter if he races in last and gradually picks up – get him jumping and in a rhythm. He likes being ridden that way. It is highly likely that Sam Twiston-Davies will be riding Tidal Bay because he has won on him already this season.”

Sam Twiston-Davies, the racing ambassador for Jockey Club Racecourses North West, also commented saying: “I have been lucky enough to enjoy a good record over the Grand National fences. I am not sure yet who I will be riding in the Crabbie’s Grand National this year. My father has first choice but I could be riding Tidal Bay. We will just have to wait and see.”

Currently there are 73 horses going forward for the Crabbie’s Grand National, run at Aintree racecourse on Saturday April the 5th. These 73 will be whittled down to 40 by the final declaration stage on April the 3rd.

Tickets for the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival can be bought from: and you can check out our Essential Guide to the Crabbie’s Grand National for everything you need to know here: