The talented 11-year-old, a G1 scorer over hurdles who defeated subsequent G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Don Cossack as a novice chaser back in 2013, finished eighth to Rule The World in the 2016 renewal of the Aintree spectacular, when he was a well-supported 16/1 chance.
Owned by Clipper Logistics, Morning Assembly missed all of last season but has returned to action this winter in point-to-point company, most recently recording an easy five-length success at Kirkstown on February 10 when partnered to victory by the trainer’s son Conor.
Morning Assembly has been allotted 10st 2lb for the 2018 Randox Health Grand National (he carried 10st 9lb in 2016), which takes place at Aintree at 5.15pm on Saturday, April 14. He is currently a 50/1 chance with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival.
The lightly-raced son of Shantou is likely to head to The Festival at Cheltenham next month, where he has the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase and the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase as possible targets.
Fahy, who trains in County Carlow, reported: “We are considering Aintree once again for Morning Assembly. It is going to be touch and go as to whether we get in this year and we also need to give him a run under Rules to qualify him for this year’s race.
“We are aiming to qualify him for the Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham – he just needs another run. If he doesn’t qualify for the Foxhunter, there is also the option of the Kim Muir at Cheltenham for which he also has an entry.
“If he can run well at Cheltenham, then there is a good chance we will aim Morning Assembly at the Randox Health Grand National again.
“The horse has been in great form since his win at Kirkstown last time out. He really has been electric – just like he was when he was a young horse.
“I was a bit concerned his fire might have gone out a bit with the problems he has had over the years, but he is just like he was in his younger days and full of energy. He could have gone around again after his last win and his enthusiasm is just remarkable.”
Looking back to his eighth in the 2016 Grand National, Fahy continued: “He was running really well two years’ ago, but I think he may have picked up an injury at some point during the race.
“You could have called him the winner crossing the Melling Road as he was still cantering. He came home eighth in the end, so still finished in the money and has never let us down.
“He gave an exhibition round of jumping at Aintree and is a horse with very few miles on the clock. It would be lovely to go back to Aintree and, at 11, he is still young enough. It would be great to have another big day with him before he retires.
“To get to Cheltenham, have a nice run there and then go back to Aintree would be a dream. It doesn’t get better than that.”
Blaklion (Nigel Twiston-Davies, 11st 6lb) and Total Recall (Willie Mullins IRE, 11st 1lb) are the current 10/1 joint-favourites with Betway for the Randox Health Grand National. Blaklion, who finished fourth to One For Arthur in the 2017 Randox Health Grand National, was runner-up in the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park on February 17 while Total Recall, who landed the very valuable Ladbrokes Trophy Handicap Chase at Newbury in November, is likely to line up in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Last year’s runner-up Cause Of Causes (Gordon Elliott IRE, 10st 12lb, 14/1) is next in the betting, followed by the 2016 second The Last Samuri (Kim Bailey, 11st 4lb, 16/1).
There is a scratchings deadline for the Randox Health Grand National on Tuesday, February 27, details of which will be revealed on Wednesday, February 28.