Run over four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards and 30 fences, the famous handicap chase is the highlight of the three-day Randox Health Grand National Festival, which gets underway on Thursday, April 6.
Regal Encore (Anthony Honeyball) was just touched off by fellow Aintree contender Pleasant Company (Willie Mullins IRE) in a valuable handicap chase at the Punchestown Festival in April.
Although the nine-year-old was pulled up in three of his four subsequent starts, he showed what he can do on a going day when swooping to victory in the valuable three-mile Listed Silver Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot on December 17.
Owned by J P McManus, he was pulled up on his latest start in a Grade Three handicap chase at Cheltenham on January 28.
Dorset-based Honeyball, who is yet to have a runner in the Aintree showpiece, but is on the way to his best season, said today: “Regal Encore is coming along well and could possibly run in the Midlands Grand National [Uttoxeter, March 18]. But if it came up too testing there, he could go straight to Aintree or the Irish Grand National.
“He has got a good racing weight for Aintree [10st 12lb], whereas in the Midlands he would be one of the top-weights. Running in the Midlands isn’t the obvious Aintree route but that’s what we are thinking at the moment.
“He has been pretty unlucky here and there, and is a very genuine horse. He has blown a bit hot and cold but not in a temperamental way. He has put on some really good displays and then hasn’t had the luck on other occasions which has put a few more letters next to his name.”
Mon Mome was eighth in the 2009 Midlands Grand National before going on to win at Aintree three weeks later. The only horse to win both races was Rag Trade, successful at Uttoxeter in 1975 and Aintree the following year.
Regal Encore is a 40/1 chance with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National.
There should be plenty of Grand National pointers tomorrow, Saturday, March 4. The 2016 runner-up The Last Samuri (Kim Bailey) clashes with Definitly Red (Brian Ellison) and Vivaldi Collonges (Paul Nicholls), in the Grimthorpe Handicap Chase at Doncaster, while Tenor Nivernais (Venetia Williams) and Le Mercurey (Paul Nicholls) head five runners for the Listed Premier Chase at Kelso.
Randox Health Grand National – Betway bet:
11/1 Vieux Lion Rouge
16/1 Blaklion, One For Arthur, The Last Samuri
20/1 The Young Master, Ucello Conti
25/1 Carlingford Lough, Caroles Destrier, Foxrock, More Of That
28/1 Definitly Red, Pleasant Company
33/1 Cause Of Causes, Carole’s Destrier, Le Mercurey, Minella Rocco, O’Faolains Boy, Rogue Angel, Tenor Nivernais, Vicente
Grand National Day Grandstand Ticket Areas, Festival Zone Sold Out
With just five weeks to go until the 2017 Randox Health Grand National Festival all grandstand areas and Festival Zone tickets for Grand National Day are sold out with only Steeplechase tickets still available for the final day on Saturday, April 8.
All grandstand and Festival Zone tickets, as well as hospitality areas are sold out, but Steeplechase tickets can still be bought through randoxhealthgrandnational.co.uk for £27.
Aside from Grand National Day, tickets are still available for the 2017 Randox Health Grand National Festival on Grand Opening Day, Thursday April 6, and Ladies Day, Friday, April 7, but they are selling fast.
For Grand Opening Day, tickets are available from £29 for Festival Zone and hospitality places are available from £119 plus VAT. For Ladies Day, tickets are available from £43 and hospitality from £169 plus VAT. Racegoers can purchase by visiting randoxhealthgrandnational.co.uk or by calling 0344 579 3001.