Grand National: Homebred Latenightpass to feature in world’s biggest race

Grand National: Homebred Latenightpass to feature in world’s biggest race

Latenightpass’ Grand National dreams are still alive as the homebred will line up on Saturday for newly licenced trainer Tom Ellis, with his wife Gina Andrews onboard.

Ellis took his training licence out so that Latenightpass could feature in the world’s biggest race under his name. The 11-year-old won a Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham in December and finished fourth in last year’s Foxhunters’ Open Hunters Chase.

Gina Andrews lets out a roar as Latenightpass wins the Foxhunters’ at Aintree

The 11-year-old was foaled from Latenightdip, who was described as “a very average point-to-point mare” by Ellis’ mother.

The trainer said: “Latenightdip unfortunately got injured and it was a case of finding the cheapest stallion we could and hoping we had a foal that we could have a bit of fun with. She gave us a horse that gave us many good days out.”

The family fairy tale continues as Ellis’ wife Andrews will ride Latenightpass on Saturday.

Before Ellis got his licence, the Grand National hopeful was trained by Dan Skelton briefly to make him eligible for Cheltenham Cross Country races, in which he finished second and won. Skelton and Ellis have a close relationship, having grown up together and been each other’s best man at their respective weddings.

The gelding won comfortably at Aintree last year and also a plentiful point-to-point career for his current trainer.

This unconventional preparation ahead of the Grand National doesn’t concern Ellis, who said: “He’s not had a lot of runs under rules, full stop, as we started him off in point to points.

“In the Hunter Chase route, we left him for the big races. He is a hard horse for them to get a hold of, but he might not be well handicapped off 149 – we will find that out on Saturday. Equally, he might still be off a nice weight.”

Ellis added: “It might all change between now and then, but I don’t feel the nerves, I just feel excited. I’m looking forward to it.

“It’s the start of a new chapter for me, we’ve trained a lot of point-to-point winners over the last five seasons, but this will be my first go against the very best. I just hope we have a nice clear run round and if we have a bit of luck we will be thereabouts hopefully.”

The going initially was a slight concern, but the weather seems to be improving and Ellis said: “Soft ground wouldn’t be a concern. I think it will dry a good bit – it doesn’t worry me massively.”

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