Dorset trainer Colin Tizzard is eager to unleash Joe Lively over the four and a half miles of the £925,000 John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, 10 April.The 11-year-old has enjoyed a fine career having landed the Grade One Feltham Novices’ Chase in his younger days, as well as last season’s Grade Two Argento Chase at Cheltenham.
Joe Lively, a 40/1 shot with totesport for the world’s most famous steeplechase, ran a cracking race in this season’s Argento Chase in January when a little over seven lengths third, conceding 10lb to the winner, Taranis. His latest start saw him plug on to finish 14th behind Chief Dan George in the William Hill Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival on 16 March. The gelding was entered in both the 2008 and 2009 John Smith’s Grand National, but did not run, and is set to make his first appearance over the famous fences this year.
Tizzard revealed this morning: “Joe Lively is most definitely heading for the John Smith’s Grand National. He found things happening too fast in the William Hill Trophy at Cheltenham last time but his run before was cracking form. I hope the ground is soft on the day and four and a half miles will suit him down to the ground.
“The weight (11st 6lb) is the only thing that could be an issue but we can’t alter that. The distance will suit and he has been a good, solid jumper all his life, so that will play to his strengths. We will find out if he can carry that weight.
“To be fair to him he has been slightly overlooked in the John Smith’s Grand National betting and I think that is because of his weight. He has won a quarter of a million in prize money – he is a very good horse. Even at Cheltenham two weeks ago, he was staying on at the end – he can keep that gallop up and there is no doubt that he will keep that gallop up for four and a half miles.
“We just backed off a bit after his last run and let him freshen up. We do what we think is right for him and he seems to be in lovely form.
“We are going to go there and sit in mid-division. We tried to make the running in his novice days and it worked fine but we tried it last time at Cheltenham and it didn’t work. We will sit in and let the rest go on a bit then have a good race in the second half, hopefully.”
The John Smith’s Grand National is the feature contest of the fantastic three-day John Smith’s Grand National Meeting at Aintree – Thursday, 8 April to Saturday, 10 April.