George confident over Saint Are

TOM George is counting down the days to Saint Are's bid to go one better in the Crabbie's Grand National.

Saint Are (right) ridden by Paddy Brennen on his way to winning the 3.40 Wetherby's Hamilton insurance handicap race at Catterick. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

His stable star won at Catterick before chasing home Many Clouds in last year’s Aintree spectacular.

Like last year, Saint Are won his prep race in Yorkshire when winning a competitive veterans’ chase at Doncaster last month and George couldn’t be happier ahead of this year’s National.

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“He’s fabulous. We just have to keep everything as it is now,” said the trainer.

“Everything has been as we want it and he’s exactly as we want him to be.

“He’s done all his hard work. It’s my job to just keep him ticking over.

“We don’t have to do any serious galloping now. He’s near enough.

“It’s a case of keeping him at that level now.”

Meanwhile, Jonjo O’Neill’s Shutthefrontdoor, who finished fifth last year in Sir AP McCoy’s final National ride, had a racecourse gallop at Huntingdon yesterday under champion jockey-elect Richard Johnson.

The attention yesterday was on the Irish National at Fairyhouse when the aptly-named Rogue Angel provided a poignant win for trainer Mouse Morris, one of the less studious pupils to attend Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire.

It was also a landmark win for conditional rider Ger Fox, whose only previous win on the Gigginstown-owned horse came when winning the Kerry National.

He was asked by Morris at the end of last week not to take a ride in the race in case he was required for Rogue Angel.

Fox and Rogue Angel blazed a trail at the head of the field and were only joined at the last by Ruby Walsh on the tenderly ridden Bless The Wings.

However, this galvanised the long-time leader, who regained the lead and got the better of a photo finish.

It meant the first five races all went to horse No 8 on the racecard.

“I’m still pinching myself,” said Fox.

“It’s my local track. I’m still trying to take it in.

“It means the world to me.”

Morris, who rode Billycan to win the Irish National in 1977 and trained Hear The Echo to claim the prestigious prize in 2008, paid tribute to his late son, Christopher, who tragically died last summer from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning while travelling in South America.

“It’s unbelievable. Tiffer (Christopher) was looking down on me today. He helped me there. That’s just special,” said Morris.

“I gave Ger no instructions. He knew the horse as he had rode him in Listowel and won a Kerry National on him, so there was no need for instructions.”

Describing the success as better than Hear The Echo’s win, Rogue Angel is still entered in the Grand National and Morris did not rule out attempting to double up if the horse is sound.

n Trainer Kim Bailey and jockey David Bass, who team up with Doncaster winner in The Last Samuri, endured a bittersweet day yesterday.

Stuck at Birmingham Airport because of delays to their Aer Lingus flight to Dublin, Bailey’s Emily Gray then won the Grade Three Mares Chase.

She was a fortuitous spare ride for jockey Jonathan Burke.

He tweeted at one point: “The @AerLingus PR is a disgrace. Still sitting at @BirminghamAirpo & not a word on when out flight will take off?”

n North Yorkshire trainer David O’Meara’s French import Lord Of The Land is among 85 horses standing their ground at the five-day stage for the Betway Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster on Saturday.

The five-year-old entire, who cost 110,000 euros out of Andre Fabre’s stable, will try to make up for the narrow defeat of compatriot Mondialiste, who went within a quarter of a length of landing the big race on his British debut last season.

O’Meara has also left in Birdman and King To Be, although the latter is not expected to make the cut.

Lord Of The Land is vying for favouritism with Mitraad from the yard of William Haggas.

n A stirring finish at Market Rasen saw Bennys Well, owned by the ever-enthusiastic Ann Ellis, prevail for High Eldwick trainer Sue Smith and Thirsk-based jockey Danny Cook, who was recording his 43rd winner in a career best season.

Meanwhile, Cloudy Dream’s win for Malton trainer Malcolm Jefferson took North Yorkshire rider Brian Hughes onto the 98 winner mark for the current campaign.