Excitement is growing at Charlie Longsdon’s Chipping Norton stables ahead of Ely Brown’s challenge in the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

“He is in good form. He seems well and has had a wind operation a couple of months ago,” says Longsdon as veteran work-rider Wilf Rayer leads the ten-year-old gelding out of his box for his daily exercise.

Ely Brown, a 100-1 outsider for the Liverpool marathon, follows the rest of the string up to the Hull Farm Stables gallops, before leading them up the stiff incline in two routines canters.

On the way back, Longsdon slows down in his jeep to enquire through an open window what sort of feel his charges have given their riders.

“Good,” Rayer replies of Ely Brown.


That’s all Longsdon needs to know as he returns to the yard where he elaborates on what will be his second National runner following Palypso De Creek, who fell four from home five years ago when well off the pace.

The trainer is relishing being involved again.

“There is a lot of excitement and a lot of attention,” he says. “It is a very surreal experience having a runner in the National.

“There are just so many people watching the race, something like 500 million.”

Ely Brown had a successful novice chase campaign last season, before picking up a minor injury in the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot.

He returned in January when he was pulled up in a handicap hurdle at Wetherby, prompting a wind operation.

“It’s been all systems go since then,” says Longsdon.

Ely Brown may not boast any strong recent form, but the trainer says: “He has been a great star to us. He has won three Pertemps qualifiers and a Grade 2 chase last season and plenty of prize-money.”

Ely Brown has had just four chase runs, but Longsdon believes the fences will hold no fears for his charge, who has schooled over National-style fences at Lambourn.

“He seemed to school over them well,” he says. “Nothing fazes him.”

Ely Brown is owned by Liverpool-based Countrywide Vehicle Rentals Taxi Hire, headed by Mark Scott.

“It is a dream for them, being from Liverpool and Scousers," adds Longsdon. “Having a runner is something special for them.”