The absence of Notre Pere from the list of Grand National runners has prompted Irish jockey Andrew Lynch to switch to ride Vic Venturi in the big race on Saturday, writes Elliot Slater.

Notre Pere had been Lynch’s first choice having given the rider a fine spin over the National fences when fifth under a big weight in the Becher Chase at Aintree in November, but the drying ground has gone all against the former Jim Dreaper-trained Grade 1 winner and his current handler Barry Potts had no alternative but to take him out of the race and look possibly to bid for the Irish equivalent at Fairyhouse later in the month if conditions are suitable.

The 11-year-old Vic Venturi is approaching the veteran stage but Dessie Hughes’ grand servant is still a capable sort and knows his way around the Grand National course having won the Becher Chase in November 2009 and been running well in last year’s Grand National until hampered by a loose horse and unseating Roger Loughran at the 20th fence. Hughes, who sent out last year’s gallant runner-up Black Apalachi, has always felt that there is a big race to be won with the Old Vic gelding even though this term he has given plenty of indications that he might not be quite the force of old.

To be fair to Vic Venturi he has been trained since the autumn with only Aintree in mind, and he was never going to be brought to a peak before the second Saturday in April. Last time out he ran with some promise when fourth to Hold The Pin in the Daily Mirror Chase at Down Royal. Lynch’s big race mount can currently be backed at around 40/1 to go one better than his stable mate Black Apalachi 12 months ago.

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