John Smith's Grand National - 14th April 2012 

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Neptune Equester Aiming for Aintree

Brian Ellison’s Grand National hope Neptune Equester is one of 17 entered for the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick on Saturday.

Neptune Equester
© Grossick Racing Photography

Neptune Equester

Ellison is keen for his charge to increase his rating to enhance his chances of getting a run at Aintree and a good showing at Warwick would aid his cause.

The nine-year-old showed stamina in abundance when winning an attritional contest at Haydock on his penultimate start and he was not disgraced when fifth in the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day.

"We've put him in there and we'll have a look at the race and make a decision later in the week. There aren't that many options for him," said Ellison.

"He ran well enough at Wetherby. They just went too slow for him and all he does is stay. Ideally he could do with a bit further as well.

"He's won over three and a half miles at Haydock, so you'd think the trip on Saturday would suit him well.

"He's rated 136 at the moment and we'd like him to go up a bit as the race we really want to go for is the Grand National. We have the option of the Scottish National as well, but we'd like to go to Aintree."


Don't Push It

Don't Push It

Meanwhile Jonjo O'Neill has confirmed the retirement of Don’t Push It, the 2010 John Smith's Grand National winner.

The 12-year-old famously provided jockey Tony McCoy with his first National success at the 15th attempt, but has signed off from racing after failing to fire on the gallops at Jackdaws Castle.

O'Neill said: "He's in great form, and he's doing everything grand at home, but he's just not showing us the same old sparkle. He's 12 now and we are doing the right thing in retiring him."

Don't Push It returned to Aintree last April and turned in another honourable display when finishing third behind Ballabriggs.

He will spend his retirement at owner JP McManus's Martinstown Stud in County Limerick, having won eight races in a 29-race career which yielded over £750,000 in prize-money.

O'Neill added: "The whole yard, and especially Tony and JP, owe him everything. He was also mine and JP's first National winner and means the world to both of us. He ran a blinder when he won in 2010, and he also ran a blinder last year when he finished third.

"We thought we had him right again this year after he ran so well over hurdles at Cheltenham, but he's now telling us enough is enough.

"He's been an unbelievable horse and I'm sure he will be well looked after at JP's - he will have a great retirement. He's a smashing horse and will never be forgotten."

McCoy, currently sidelined with a rib injury, added on At The Races: "The last thing we wanted was for something to happen to him, so the decision was pretty easy to make.

"Jonjo and JP were very keen to make sure he retired in one piece. He's emotionally too valuable for something to have happened to him. He gave his all. He gave me the greatest day of my racing life - I always wanted to win the Grand National. I will always be indebted to Don't Push It."


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