2013 Grand National Preview With Mike Foster

Mike Foster is the Racing Manager at Deva Racing Ltd and has a number of horses with Donald McCain the trainer of 2011 Grand National winner Ballabriggs – I met with Mike to discuss this years race and take a closer look at the 2013 Grand National runners.

Do You Follow Grand National Stats & Trends?

I do, but they’re changing. The higher quality horses we’re seeing entered into the race are changing that. Take last years winner, only quality horses can carry those big weights. The prize money is now a huge incentive, that’s why were seeing Gold Cup winners in the race.

Should Horses Run In Both – The Gold Cup & The Grand National?

Every horse is different and it depends on how they come out of Cheltenham. Personally, I don’t think so. If a Gold Cup horse enters the Grand National I’d be laying it all day.

Aintree is very different to Cheltenham but trainers know their horses better than anybody, I think, especially for the National you’ve got to be trained for it and that’s why Donald has set routines for his Aintree bound horses. It’s about building to that big day.

30% Of Entries Are 11 Years Or Older This Year – Do Older Horses Stand A Better chance?

I still don’t think a novice can win it. I still don’t think anything under 9 can win it. I think the ages and weights will push up because the quality of the horses is improving.

What Do You Think Of Donald McCain’s Ballabriggs And Across The Bay?

Across The Bay has shown he’s tough. Before Haydock everyone was talking about Ballabriggs as being the main chance. Ballabriggs competed last year but I don’t think everything went his way. I can see him running a good race and he can get into the places but I can’t see him winning.

As for Across The Bay – I don’t know. I think he’ll be better next year but it will be interesting because he’s one of those that could spring a surprise.

If I Gave You £100 Who Would You Back?

I liked Seabass last year and I agree with Mr Walsh that the weight handed to him this year was harsh. He ran so well in 2012 that I can’t see him being out of the places this year. Maybe that weight will just anchor him and stop the win who knows…

I like Prince De Beauchene, looking back 12 months he was the talking horse and if he’s anything like that coming back he’ll be great. It’s a big ask with his weight. I just think he’s a classy horse.

Imperial Commander – what a horse! He might not run but what if he does? He was more likely to go to the Gold Cup but the injury ruled him out so he could still go to the National. I’m thinking this year it’s all about the class.

I think if I had to put one bet on it would be Sunnyhillboy. Each-way I like Imperial Commander and Across The Bay, who’s currently 40/1, and if the ground is anything like a bit softish, he’s tough as old boots and he’ll do well.

J.P. McManus Has Seven Horses Entered – Do You Rate Colbert Station?

Colbert Station comes in as a class horse. I think that Ted Walsh is taking this very seriously and that’s why he got so upset about the heavier weight given to Seabass. I think he’s thinking that he’s got two really good chances this year.

Do You Think A Female Jockey Can Win It?

I think Katie proved last year that she could. I think Carrie Ford proved that already on Forrest Gunner in 2005. There’s absolutely no reason why a female jockey can’t – you just have to have the right horse. It takes an owner to put them on the right horse and Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh are now at the level where they can decide what horses they want to ride.

What Do You Think About The Recent Changes To The Aintree Fences?

For me it’s speed that kills and all they’re going to do by lowering fences is to make the course faster and that worries me. However, I like the changes to the start, I think that’s very positive and everybody seems to be saying that.

That’s the other thing with the National, sometimes trainers have to persuade owners to enter. It’s not any old race, it does divide people, and sometimes it’s down to the owners decisions.

For me the Grand National is the reason I’m in this game. I was at the age when Red Rum was winning and Ginger was a Northern trainer and local and he seemed fun and approachable. Even then at a young age I understood that something special had happened.

Special thanks to Mike Foster for giving us some valuable insight into this years race. Mike is the Racing Manager at Deva Racing who provide professional managed racing partnerships and syndicates with trainers Donald McCain and Tom Dascombe. You can learn more about racehorse ownership at DevaRacing.com.

If you’d like to know more about all the horses running in this years Grand National check out our ‘Runners’ page.