DAVID BASS is philosophical about The Last Samuri’s chances in the Grand National – last year’s runner-up is top weight because he is perceived to be the best horse in the 40-runner race.
Yet the jockey is content not to be carrying the weight of public expectation now the Kim Bailey-trained runner, overhauled by Rule The World on the run-in last year, has been tasked with carrying an additional 16lb.
Twelve months ago, The Last Samuri – owned by Paul and Clare Rooney – was the “talking horse” following a wide-margin win in Doncaster’s Grimthorpe Chase after the National weights were published. Now, expectations rest with the Yorkshire-trained Definitly Red, who won last month’s Town Moor renewal.
This suits Bass, who partnered exciting novice hurdler Willoughby Court to glory at Cheltenham last month. The jockey also has high hopes for Charbel in today’s Grade One novice chase, one of the National’s chief supporting races.
“I think he will run very well,” he told The Yorkshire Post. “It’s a different story this year with the weight.
“With 11st 10lb instead of 10st 8lb, he has the weight because he is a good horse and has the form after last year and then finishing third in the Becher Chase. With the weight we’ve got, we don’t want to be running on very soft.
“Last year, I genuinely thought I had a really good chance of winning the race. The way the race panned out, I was very confident of winning the whole way round.”
Bass hails from an eclectic family – his mother is a vicar, his sister is a talented musician and he relaxes by playing the drums.
He added: “This year, it’s a little bit different. He’s not the talking horse – this year the focus is on Definitly Red and Vieux Lion Rouge. I was also very impressed with One For Arthur when he won the Classic Chase at Warwick. I’m going to try and enjoy it a bit more this year. He’s a great ride to have, has a bit of class and I think he will run really well.”
The worry, says Bass, is whether The Last Samuri will be vulnerable to a progressive horse who is well-handicapped – just like last year.