It was only at the weekend trainer Evan Williams and owners William and Angela Rucker made the decision to go for the Liverpool showpiece with the Coral Welsh Grand National hero.
However, they need seven higher-rated horses to come out to make the maximum 40-strong field as watering begins at the Merseyside track to ensure perfect conditions for the big race..
“I have always been a believer in those big handicaps what will be, will be. If those horses come out that would be fantastic and if they don’t, it wasn’t meant to be,” Williams told Nick Luck’s podcast.
“I can’t pretend the plan was we’d end up in the Grand National, because it wasn’t. We only had the green light on Saturday that was what we would do.”
“He’s in great form and we wouldn’t even be thinking about the race if he wasn’t.
“The reality was we had looked at Cheltenham and I thought that a couple more weeks would be of benefit to us. It was only that I had not sat down with Mr and Mrs Rucker until Saturday.
“He’s a grand horse. If I have a weakness then it is buying horses that get slower as they get older. You would say he’s old fashioned, but that is the horse I buy as a youngster and the type of horse I love dealing with.”
Secret Reprieve’s regular rider Adam Wedge is in a race of his own to be fit in time for Aintree after he suffered a back injury in a fall at Newbury in early March that forced him to miss the Cheltneham Festival
A scan today, says Williams, will determine the rider’s chances.
Meanwhile, Aintree turned on the taps as preparations continue for next week’s Randox Grand National meeting.
After several days of warm weather, clerk of the course Sulekha Varma opted to water both the National and Mildmay courses as the forecast continues to be for dry weather in the immediate future.
She said: “We are watering today – we have put six millimetres on the Grand National course and 10mm on the Mildmay, with the Mildmay good, good to soft in places and the National course good to soft, good in places.
“We’ll obviously keep watching the forecast, but the aim would be for good to soft ground on the National course and the slow side of good on the Mildmay.
“It has been unseasonably warm this week, but then the forecast is for it to be unseasonably cold by Monday – it is Britain in spring after all.”
Varma was appointed as Aintree’s clerk of the course in December 2019 and had been due to command her first Grand National meeting last spring, before the Covid-19 pandemic forced its cancellation. She is no stranger to the meeting, though.
“Had last year gone ahead, this would have been my 11th National as part of the team, so some of it is very familiar,” said Varma.
She added: “It is very different to be making the decisions and taking the lead rather turning up the day before and being told what to do.
“We have a fantastic team here, and they are just doing what they do best.
“It’s great to be racing this year, and hopefully it can give everyone a bit of a boost to see a top-class sporting event.”
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