There have been few more popular or emotional recent winners of the Aintree Grand National than the Mouse Morris-trained Rule The World back in April.
The affable Irish trainer was afflicted by great personal tragedy in 2016 but managed to find some smidgen of solace as first Rogue Angel at Fairyhouse and then Rule The World on Merseyside scooped a memorable National double. Few trainers are better equipped with the patience and guile required to ready a challenger for the big day than Morris. Grand National 2017 is almost here – prepare to place bets on it and consider once more that Mouse Morris could be the man to have on side at Aintree.
With Rule The World retired after his brilliant success in partnership with rookie David Mullins in the saddle, Morris may turn to his Fairyhouse hero Rogue Angel for Aintree in 2017.
In typical fashion, the Tipperary handler suggests that there is ‘no point sleeping if you don't dream‘ when he considers the challenge of training a Grand National winner.
Rogue Angel will be nine-years-old when the Grand National comes around, thus fitting him nicely into the age-profile of Aintree heroes. Morris took the chance to give the Gigginstown House-owned runner a sight of the famous fences when he ran in the Becher Chase in early December.
He cut no ice in that race but that won't be overly worrying for Morris – Rule The World had gone over two years and 14 races without success before he scored the ultimate win at Aintree – for more on 2016 Grand National – just click here. Rogue Angel's path to the spring will be plotted to the finest of detail, his trainer determined to leave him cherry-ripe for the biggest stage.
Of course, Morris isn't likely to restrict himself to just one single shot at the board when he gets his chance to become the first trainer since the iconic Ginger McCain in 1974 to win back-to-back Nationals at Aintree. Another former Fairyhouse hero in Thunder And Roses has also been given the nod to put Aintree in the diary.
Also owned by Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown, Thunder And Roses was delivered to Irish National success by Katie Walsh on an unforgettable Easter Monday.
Things haven't gone exceedingly well for Thunder And Roses since his 2015 victory at Fairyhouse but it could prove worthy of note that his seasonal return, back at the same track over a trip in excess of three-and-a-half-miles, brought about his most promising run in some time. The first shoots of growth are visible in his bid for another massive pot.
It would represent some achievement if Morris could return to Liverpool in the spring and retain the world's most famous steeplechase. Never short of a word, the trainer recently stated that more people watch the Grand National at Aintree than watched President-elect Donald Trump win his place in the Whitehouse. When it comes to Aintree in April, rule out a second term for Mouse at your peril.