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Paul Nicholls: Aintree is the aim for Join Together but have I used up all my National luck?!

Join Together in action

"Join Together doesn't possess much in the way of gears, and doesn't do anything quickly - just like Neptune! As such, he will always need a test of stamina, and decent ground, to show his best."

Paul is the reigning Grand National-winning trainer after Neptune Collonges' stunning victory last year and in Join Together he has the second favourite for the 2013 race, and Paul has good news for ante-post backers - the horse is definitely being aimed at Aintree

I see that Join Together is the second favourite at 21.020/1 for the Grand National on Betfair, with only On His Own ahead of him in the betting.

I am not sure about whether that lofty position in the market is justified - maybe he would have been a fair bit bigger if Neptune had got beaten a nose and continued my 60-odd losing streak in the race! But I can at least tell you that we are aiming him for the race if you are thinking about backing him.

In fact, we are giving him an easy time now and you won't see him out again until after the Grand National weights are released. That's merely a coincidence, obviously... 

But we were thrilled with his second in the Becher, where he jumped great in ground that probably would have been too soft for him, and the National now looks the sensible route.

I am not sure that was the strongest Becher I have ever seen, with a 14-year-old winning the race from out of the handicap and the first five home covered by three lengths. But, all the same, I expected Join Together to be raised slightly in the weights, so a 2lb increase to 150 is fair enough. 

We know he is a real stayer, so the National trip promises more.

As you saw in the Becher, he doesn't possess much in the way of gears, and doesn't do anything quickly - just like Neptune! As such, he will always need a test of stamina, and decent ground, to show his best. 

But I think we have every right to aim for Aintree with a degree of confidence.

I may have used up all my National luck for the foreseeable future last April, but there is no harm in dreaming again, and I am especially thrilled that his owners Paul Barber and Ian Fogg have something to look forward to, too.

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22 December 2012

Paul Nicholls

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