sport

Davy Russell takes Port mount

Davy Russell played down speculation Burton Port could be his Grand National ride, even though he'll be aboard at Doncaster on Wednesday.

The Irish jockey will partner the Jonjo O'Neill-trained 10-year-old for the first time in a veterans' chase over three miles, his only mount at the South Yorkshire circuit.

Burton Port was not far off top class in his pomp, having finished fourth in a Gold Cup and second in a RSA Chase, when trained by Nicky Henderson.

His form since transferring to O'Neill's yard last October is less inspiring, but Burton Port remains a lively ante-post outsider for the National, for which he must carry 10st 8lb.

Russell was, however, keen to quell the notion that his Doncaster alliance with the Trevor Hemmings-owned stayer is a dress rehearsal for Aintree in April.

He said: "I don't think that (the Grand National) is anything to do with it. It's a bit of a coincidence more than anything.

"Jonjo (O'Neill) rang me the other day and asked me if I'd ride him. He's 10, but he's not had that much racing and has has a lot of ability. Doncaster's a good track and I'm looking forward to the ride."

Despite its veteran status, the Betdaq-sponsored race has attracted some extremely smart thoroughbreds on to Town Moor.

None more so than the top weight, Massini's Maguire, who returns to the track following a 732-day absence.

He, too, is still in the hat for the National.

Trainer Tim Vaughan, for whom the 13-year-old will be having his first start, said: "The idea is to see if he's still in love with the job. He's a lovely old boy at home, but this is very much a learning job with him.

"Aintree is 100 per cent the plan. I'd also love to get another run in mid-March with him, just to see if he's still got that zest."

Fellow Doncaster contender Tranquil Sea also has a National entry, but he is well down the weights on 9st 12lb.

The likes of Time For Rupert, Aachen, Son Of Flicka and Fruity O'Rooney add further strength in depth.