Apr 10, 727 days ago

Lavelle planning National Surprise

Lavelle planning National Surprise

Emma Lavelle is hoping to join an elite band of three women to have trained a Grand National winner when Court By Surprise lines up on Saturday.

Jenny Pitman won with Corbiere in 1983 and followed up with Royal Athlete in 1995. She was also second with Garrison Savannah who came close to following up his Cheltenham Gold Cup victory in 1991. Venetia Williams trained Mon Mome to a shock 100-1 success in 2009 before Sue Smith won with Auroras Encore in 2013.

Court By Surprise has been largely overlooked in the big race build-up and is a 40-1 chance despite having won his last two races. He won at Exeter in October on his seasonal debut and then followed up in controversial circumstances at Wincanton in the Listed Badger Ales Trophy. First past the post was The Young Master but it later transpired that he was not qualified to run. As a novice, he needed to have raced at least three times over fences and he had only done so twice.

The race was awarded to Court By Surprise who has not been seen in action since. This has been a deliberate policy in order to have him fresh and well for Aintree and he was taken to Newbury recently for a racecourse gallop.

Lavelle has been training for seventeen seasons but this will be her first runner in the Grand National. She is married to former jockey Barry Fenton who finished fourth in the 2003 National aboard Gunner Welburn. She has booked Richie McLernon to ride Court By Surprise, the rider of Sunnyhillboy when agonisingly beaten a nose by Neptune Collonges in 2012.

That was the shortest winning margin in the history of the race but McLernon did not waste any time bemoaning his luck. The horse was trained by Jonjo O’Neill who had the misfortune to lose Gold Cup winner Synchronised to a freak accident during the race. McLernon got no further than the first fence last year on 100-1 outsider Twirling Magnet but he has ridden Court By Surprise before and is hoping to improve his National record.

Karen McLintock will saddle Carlito Brigante and Rebecca Curtis has Bob Ford in the race. Curtis saddled Teaforthree to finish third in the race in 2013. Dianne Sayer (Baileys Concerto) and Sandra Hughes (Raz De Maree) both look certain to miss out with their horses just outside the final forty declared runners.

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