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Kemboy to head Mullins’ select Aintree squad

Returning Betway Bowl winner Kemboy will lead a small but select team into battle for Willie Mullins at this year’s Grand National Festival at Aintree.

The 10-year-old was a brilliant winner on Merseyside in 2019 – one of his four top-level victories along with the 2018 Savills Chase, the 2019 Punchestown Gold Cup and last year’s Irish Gold Cup.

Having sidestepped last month’s Cheltenham Festival, Kemboy will return to Aintree as a fresh horse as he prepares to renew rivalry with Clan Des Obeaux, who was second to him three years ago and went one better in last year’s Bowl.

Mullins said: “Kemboy loves the track so we decided to skip Cheltenham this year and aim for there and nicer ground, but there is rain forecast.

“I read this morning that the clerk of the course was worried about whether to water or not.

“I always thought a rule of thumb was not to worry about having it over-watered, safety is the main thing to me and a little too much is better than a little too less.”

Kemboy looks likely to be one of two runners for Mullins on Thursday along with Ashroe Diamond, who is entered for the Grade Two Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

The following afternoon Royal Rendezvous will either run in the Grade One Marsh Chase or tackle the Grand National fences in the Randox Topham Chase, while the exciting El Fabiolo is set to step up in class for the Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle, with Mullins saying the five-year-old is in “great shape”.

Burrows Saint on his way to winning the 2019 Irish Grand National
Burrows Saint on his way to winning the 2019 Irish Grand National (PA)

The Closutton handler plans to fire a four-pronged assault on Saturday’s Randox Grand National, with last year’s fourth Burrows Saint set to be joined by Brahma Bull, Class Conti and Agusta Gold.

Mullins added: “Burrows Saint is fine. You would rather have had a better run in the Bobbyjo (finished third) and it’s going to be hard to turn around the form with Any Second Now.

“You’d rather some of them had better runs prior to the National, but then it’s the National and who knows what’s going to happen?”

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