AS heavier than expected going disrupts last-minute Grand National preparations, jockey David Bass admits to having few grounds for concern.
He partners The Last Samuri as Kim Bailey’s course specialist, a horse that saves his best for Aintree, bids to win the National at the third attempt.
A luckless second in 2016 when caught on the famous run-in by Rule The World, The Last Samuri was last of the 16 finishers 12 months ago when carrying top weight.
However, Bass’s mount, victorious in the 2016 Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster, was a brave second to Blaklion, one of today’s favourites, in last December’s Becher Chase over the National course before finishing fourth in Cheltenham’s Cotswold Chase.
All these runs, together with a terrific third in the cross country race at the Cheltenham Festival last month, have come on heavy going.
“I don’t think it will inconvenience him, they were all really good runs,” the jockey told The Yorkshire Post.
“We all know he loves Aintree so I’m not too fearful about the ground. He just loves jumping. From the moment he jumped the very first fence two years ago, you just knew he was really enjoying it.
“It’s the way he attacks his fences. You can leave him to it. Second to Balkion is very good form.”
Defeat in 2016 hurt Bass who has an eclectic background – he’s a keen drummer from a family of musicians and his mother, Rowena, is a vicar.
However, perspective helps for a likable rider who continues to be under-rated.
“Winning would mean a hell of a lot,” he adds. “It’s the race I first remember as a lad. My Dad loved the race.
“I never thought I would ride in it but I’ve had four rides and this will be my fifth. Going so close in 2016, it taste a bit sweeter. When you finish second, you always think you could have done something else – or better.
“I’m a bit more relaxed this year. Looking back on the last couple of years, I feel lucky I have managed to ride a horse who loves Aintree.”