With ante-post odds of around 33/1, Always Waining doesn’t, at first, jump out at you as a potential winner for the 2012 Grand National. But there are a few things to consider before passing by him. For a start he’s the first horse since 1958 to win back-to-back Topham Chases over the Aintree fences in 2011 and 2010.
Unfortunately he just missed the cut for the 2011 Grand National itself, so the 2012 event has been well and truly made his priority this time round. As one of the few trainers not averse to a higher handicap rating, Peter Bowen hopes the horse will again shine when restored to the big fences at the Aintree trip on December 3rd 2011.
Always Waining is entered for both the Becher Chase and the Grand Sefton, likewise sponsored by Betfred, but half as valuable and run over a shorter distance. “It all depends on the ground,” Bowen said yesterday. “If it’s no worse than good to soft he’ll go for the Becher. It’s amazing the way he lights up round there, he just seems to love it. To get him spot-on for this meeting has been the plan all along, and I was quite pleased by his last run over hurdles – he was running on quite nicely at the end, which he hadn’t been doing. I think we have him in very, very good form.”
When talking to The Independent on the matter of the recent changes to the Aintree fences Bowen stated “If they’re not careful, it’ll end up like a normal handicap, and they’ll lose what makes it so special,” he said. “No animal on earth gets better treated than a racehorse. But they seem to be listening to people who don’t understand that – people who will never stop wanting more, who won’t be happy, until they’ve stopped racing altogether.”