Alexander takes a shine to Posh Bird

IT could be ladies day if Lucy Alexander, one of the conditional jockey finds of the season, bids to make the most of her chance ride on the Yorkshire-trained Posh Bird in the Betfred Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter.

The 5lb claimer, in action at the Cheltenham Festival this week, teams up with Malton trainer Peter Niven in the marathon handicap chase staged over four miles one furlong, with the mare’s regular rider Brian Hughes serving a suspension.

Hughes was in the plate when Posh Bird went close to winning the Eider Chase at Newcastle last month. Leading at the final fence, the nine-year-old was collared in the last 50 yards by Irish challenger Portrait King.

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However, Posh Bird will relish the good to soft conditions; she won the North Yorkshire National at Catterick in early January on similar going.

“I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully she’ll have a good chance,” said the jockey whose weight allowance means Posh Bird only has to carry 9st 9lb.

“I can’t believe how well this season’s gone. It’s great to be getting so much support from everyone.

“I can do the weight, no bother, but my agent got me the ride because Brian Hughes, who normally rides her, is suspended. That’s the ups and downs of racing.

“She’ll have a lovely weight so I’m hoping she’ll go well. She stays well and I’m hoping for the best.”

Niven, a former successful jump jockey himself with more than 1,000 winners to his credit, is happy to give Alexander the ride.

“Lucy’s riding her for the first time. She takes 5lb off her and will be grand. She’s not sat on her yet, but that won’t be a problem,” said the North Yorkshire trainer.

“She ran a great race in the Eider and I thought we’d got it but she was just run out of it. If she can run as well as that she won’t be far away. Everything’s gone well since Newcastle. She’s as fit as a flea.”