Grand National 2016
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Grand National news: O’Brien confident in Alvarado

Fergal O’Brien is pleased that his Grand National hope Alvarado is exactly where he wants him to be, with three weeks to go to the world’s greatest steeplechase.

The 10-year-old son of Goldmark was a staying on fourth in last year’s renewal. He continued a fine record for both his jockey Paul Moloney and owners the Rucker family, who achieved the frame for the sixth time in succession joining the Evan Williams trained pair of State Of Play and Cappa Bleu with that accolade.

Alvarado is a 33/1 shot to go three better than last year.

“I’m confident he’ll get in,” said O’Brien, whose stable star is 51st on the list for the National, which has a maximum field of 40.

“Paul will come down one day next week to have a sit on him and he may have a racecourse gallop somewhere. Everything is looking good and he’s where we want him to be. He’s in very good form, I’m very happy with him and wouldn’t swap him for anything.

“He’s very straightforward and can hopefully do as well as he did last year, if not better. Paul and the owners have a fantastic record in the race and hopefully we can keep that up.”

Maguire unlikely to make Aintree
Former Grand National winning jockey Jason Maguire seems unlikely to make this year’s race, after suffering a back injury at Catterick last month.

Maguire has been in the doldrums lately having incurred a 14-day ban for being found guilty under the ‘non triers’ rule when riding Born To Succeed at Ludlow.

He appealed for the decision to be turned over which ruled him out of the Cheltenham Festival. Whilst his ban has run its course, the injury suffered at Catterick is worse than first feared.

Quoted in a blog interview, Maguire said: “The first scan I had after the fall suggested I had a slipped disc and I may have damaged one of my verterbrae.

“I’m having a second opinion on it next week, but the initial signs are not good, which means I may be ruled out of riding in the Grand National for the second year running. It’s fair to say luck is not on my side at the minute.”

Aintree schooling fences ready for use
Special Grand National schooling fences, located at four venues in Britain and Ireland, are ready for use and dressed with fresh spruce.

The fences are there for any trainer to use and school horses who are likely runners in the Crabbie’s Grand National (April 11), Crabbie’s Topham Chase (April 10) and Crabbie’s Fox Hunters’ Chase (April 9) at Aintree.

Preparatory work on the schooling fences, by Aintree groundsmen, has taken place at David Pipe’s yard on the Devon/Somerset border, at the Lambourn Gallops, at the Malton Schooling Grounds and at the Curragh Training Grounds.

Aintree Clerk of the Course, Andrew Tulloch commented: “There are two Grand National fences at each location and they are slightly smaller replicas of the fences we have at Aintree. We are keen to encourage trainers who are thinking of running horses over the Grand National fences to use them.”