WHAT a performance Carrie Ford and Forest Gunner put up last Saturday, finishing a credible fifth and collecting £17,500 in the John Smith's Aintree Grand National.
'I loved it,' said Ford. 'It was the thrill of a lifetime, he was brilliant. He fiddled a couple and kept plugging on.'
'It was a better class of race than when he was here the last two times and he was never able to just fiddle away. A couple of times Forest Gunner had to reach for a fence and we just scraped over the Chair.
'It was all down to his courage that he kept up with them to the last fence.'
Gunner was in contention right up to the last fence but proved trainer Richard Ford right when the courageous gelding lost his place when running out of stamina on the long run-in.
Ford, of Little Budworth, has now equalled the best-ever position achieved by a woman jockey in the Grand National, although she finished closer to the winner than Rosemary Henderson did when also finishing fifth on Fiddlers Pike in 1994.
Amberleigh House, victorious last year, jumped round to finish 10th. And at 13 years of age, he was again a credit to trainer Ginger McCain, of Cholmondeley. nThere is a six-race card at Bangor-on-Dee tomorrow afternoon when the feature event is the £12,000 Kronospan Handicap Chase over an extended three miles, which has attracted 36 entries at the five-day stage.
Trainer Venetia Williams has a good chance of landing the race with Indalo, who won over this distance at Carlisle last month. The other entry from the Williams yard is Jimmy Tennis who finished second in a similar event over the course and distance on March 19.
Racing begins at 2.20pm with the three-mile NSPCC Borders Novices Hurdle. The form horse looks to be Rowley Hill who carried top weight to victory over this distance at Towcester last month. The biggest danger is Victom's Chance, who disappointed last time out but previously landed the spoils at Market Rasen on heavy ground.
Trainer Paul Nicholls has entered two horses for the North East Wales Novices Chase - Andreas and East Lawyer. Andreas was an impressive 11-lengths winner at Taunton last time out and should go close again if declared to run. The locally-trained horses Brown Teddy and Tunes of Glory both have the ability to go close if running to form.
The Jane Mc-Alpine Memorial Hunters Chase has received a good entry. Donald McCain junior has an excellent run-to-win ratio with his pointers this season and is represented by Cornish Gale, but this is tougher than a point-to-point.
Mister Friday was a 10-lengths winner at Market Rasen two weeks ago. Equally, Ask The Natives left his field 18 lengths in arrears when scoring at Warwick last month and may be the one to beat.
Racing closes with the NSPCC Fullstop Handicap Hurdle over two-and-a-half miles and with 68 initial entries, the event may be split into two divisions.
To round off the racing activity this weekend, the Cheshire Hunt holds its popular point-to-point meeting at Alpraham on Sunday. More than 140 horses have been entered and racing begins at 2pm. Admission to the course is good value at £20 per car.