'That's what we have dreams for' - Racehorse trained at top yard in Chipping Norton is a favourite to win Saturday's Grand National
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Snow Leopardess is a 12-1 firm contender for the title at Aintree this weekend and if she wins, she would be the first mare to win the world’s most famous steeplechase in 70 years.
The horse is notable because it is rare for a mare to return to the track after having a foal. None have run the Grand National, let alone win the gruelling four and a half mile race over 30 fences.
Snow Leopardess, known at Hull Farm stables as The Queen, is trained by Charlie Longsdon and owned by Marietta Fox-Pitt.
In a feature on the yard’s Facebook page the trainer said Snow Leopardess was special for having won in three countries by the age of six.
She had two years out after a leg injury during which she was put in foal to Derby winner Sir Percy.
“The Grand National is the most iconic race in the world, isn't it? It's the most watched race in the world,” said Mr Longsdon. “Most families will have five pounds each way which they don't do for any other race,” he said.
“It is that race that captures the imagination. The Grand National stops the nation.
"The Gold Cup is the blue ribbon there's no doubt, but I think the Grand National is the most iconic and it's the race I think every trainer would love to win. So yes, it would mean the absolute world. That’s what we have dreams for,” he said.
This will be the sixth Grand National runner from Charlie Longsdon’s yard and the first with a real chance of winning. The fairy-tale mare’s story has caught the imagination of the media resulting in a huge focus on the north Oxfordshire yard in features on Sky, the BBC, ITV and in most of Britain’s national newspapers.
Yard secretary Amber Cartlidge said: “Snow is known as ‘an extremely tough mare’ and is adored at Hull Farm.
“She heads into the National having won all three of her runs this season. Jess Benfield looks after her and rides her daily. She devotes all her time to ensuring Snow is receiving 5-star care and attention and Jess knows if something is not right.
"Before she was seven, Snow had won in England, Ireland and France. It is amazing to see her come back after foaling and performing to the same high standard.”
Snow’s jockey, Aidan Coleman, has ridden Snow throughout her career and will take the ride in Saturday’s National. Snow went for a pop over the Aintree style fences at Lambourn last week and Aidan was delighted with how she felt.
Jess Benfield said: “Nerves and excitement are building in the yard. Snow will leave for Aintree early Saturday morning. The horses will all be fed breakfast at 6am. Snow will go for a leg stretch around the farm before being loaded and on her way to Aintree. I will drive and look after her at the races.”