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Aintree Grand National 2015: Mullins puts faith in Ballycasey

Champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins will saddle just Ballycasey in this year’s Crabbie’s Grand National as he bids to win the race for a second time.

Mullins won the race in 2005 with Hedgehunter, and withdrew his two other entries – Boston Bob and Prince De Beauchene – at the latest declaration stage for showpiece event at Aintree on Saturday, April 11th.

Punters have been quick to latch onto the fact that it means stable jockey Ruby Walsh, the only current rider to have won the race twice, could be on Ballycasey and Coral have been forced to cut the gelding into 33/1 (from 50s) for National glory.

The eight-year-old has won three of his nine starts over fences, but has put in several below par efforts since winning on seasonal reappearance at Gowran Park.

In the last of those, Ballycasey made mistakes and was quickly struggling before being pulled-up in the 2m 5f Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

That was a shocking effort, but Mullins is hopeful that the better ground and longer trip will enable Ballycasey to quickly bounce back.

The County Carlow handler, who saddled a record breaking eight winners at the Cheltenham Festival earlier this month, said: “I think the spring ground will be better for him and his breeding suggests he will stay the trip. I am looking forward to running him.”

Mullins also revealed that first three home in the Champion Hurdle – Faugheen, Arctic Fire and Hurricane Fly – will all be entered for the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle on Thursday, April 9th.

Annie Power, who fell at the last when having the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival at her mercy, will also be given an entry for the Grade 1 contest having come out of the race in “good form”.