Hughes booked for Vicente ride in Grand National
Last Updated: 30/03/17 5:54pm
Brian Hughes will partner Vicente in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on Saturday week.
The Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year-old won the Scottish National at Ayr last spring, but has failed to replicate that form so far this season.
However, he was recently snapped up by leading owner Trevor Hemmings, who has won the Grand National three times before with Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015).
The owner's racing manager, Mick Meagher, said: "Brian (Hughes) schooled the horse this morning, they jumped well and the plan is for him to ride in the Grand National.
"On his Scottish National form he would have a very good chance.
"He prefers better ground, but they're talking about a dry week next week. All's well at the moment."
Hughes had originally been pencilled in to ride Irish contender Maggio, but his connections have now made alternative arrangements.
James Griffin, son of trainer Patrick, said: "We knew Brian might not be available so we had Conor O'Farrell on standby.
"Conor came over last week and schooled the horse and they schooled very well, so the plan is for him ride the horse at Aintree.
"I think Conor was actually surprised how much scope the horse has as he's not the biggest in the world.
"I've known Conor a good while as when he was an apprentice, I was actually his jockey coach.
"He has a very good completion record around Aintree and we're more than happy to have him on board."
Another Grand National contender, Stellar Notion, is set to spearhead a formidable team for Henry de Bromhead at Aintree next week.
Stellar Notion, who was last seen finishing a close second in January's Leopardstown Handicap Chase, also holds an entry over the National fences in the shorter Topham Chase, but his trainer has confirmed he will contest the world's most famous steeplechase.
His Grade One-winning stablemate Identity Thief, meanwhile, could revert to the smaller obstacles in Thursday's Betway Aintree Hurdle.
The seven-year-old made a flying start to his chasing career with successive wins at Punchestown, but has been disappointing since.
De Bromhead said: "Stellar Notion is in the National and will run in that.
"Identity Thief is entered in the two-and-a-half-mile hurdle (Aintree Hurdle) and we'll have a look at that. I think we have to go back over hurdles with him after his last couple of runs over fences and try to get his confidence back.
"Sub Lieutenant will be entered in the Bowl and the Melling Chase. Alisier D'Irlande is in the two-mile handicap (Red Rum Chase)."
Two De Bromhead inmates set to remain on home soil are Petit Mouchoir and Champagne West.
Petit Mouchoir was third in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham earlier this month, with Champagne West ninth in the Gold Cup.
"Petit Mouchoir will wait for Punchestown. He's in great form and we'll keep him for there," the trainer added.
"Champagne West will wait for the Gold Cup in Punchestown. Looking at the way he ran in Cheltenham I'd say an ease in the ground wouldn't do him any harm. He seems in mighty form."