ALAN King’s Ziga Boy has been confirmed a definite runner in the £1million Randox Health Grand National. He will bid to become only the fourth ever grey winner of the world’s greatest steeplechase.
The eight-year-old made history earlier this season when becoming the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.
Ziga Boy has not been sighted on a racecourse since victory in that three-mile handicap chase on January 28, when he stayed on strongly to score by three-and-a-half lengths from Looking Well. The son of Califet is rated a general 40/1 chance for Aintree glory. Trained by King in Wiltshire, he is set to carry 10st 9lb and is certain to get in the maximum permitted field of 40 for the Grand National is run over the National Course at Aintree on April 8.
If successful, Ziga Boy would become only the fourth grey horse to win the Randox Health Grand National following The Lamb (1868 & 1871), Nicolaus Silver (1961) Neptune Collonges (2012).
Ziga Boy has made one previous appearance at Aintree, when he unseated Tom Bellamy at the first fence in this season’s Betfred Becher Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences in December after being badly hampered by the fall of Saint Are.
Dan Downie, racing manager for owners Axom, said: “It is the plan for Ziga Boy to go for the Randox Health Grand National. We have been happy with him since his win at Doncaster in January and he has been kept fresh.
“The drying ground should suit him, although we are going into the unknown with him as far as distance is concerned (Ziga Boy has not won beyond three miles and a furlong). The National is the National and anything can happen. It was just one of those things that can happen when he unseated Tom in the Becher Chase but we are very happy with him ahead of next week and it is hugely exciting for everyone involved with Axom.”
The Randox Health Grand National, which has 78 entries going forward, is run over four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards and 30 fences. The next acceptance stage for the Randox Health Grand National is on Monday, April 3 at noon. Becher Chase hero Vieux Lion Rouge (David Pipe) continues to head the market at 10/1 followed closely by Definitly Red (Brian Ellison) on 11/1.
The Randox Health Grand National Festival gets underway on Thursday, April 6, with Grand Opening Day.
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Aintree favourite and 2016 winner of the Retraining Of Racehorses (RoR) Horse of the Year, Monet’s Garden, will head the line-up for the RoR Parade at the Randox Health Grand National Festival. The parade also features fellow Grade One winners Denman, Cinders And Ashes and Peddlers Cross, as well as the popular and now reformed character, Mad Moose.
The RoR Parade, generously sponsored by the Peter O’Sullevan Trust, has a new slot this year, taking place before racing on the second day of the Randox Health Grand National Festival, Ladies Day, Friday, April 7 at around 12.40pm in the parade ring.
The diverse 10-horse line-up includes four Grade One winners and several Aintree regulars. Each of the 10 horses has found a fulfilling second career after retiring from racing, whether it be showing, dressage, showjumping, eventing, hunting or team chasing.