It's mid-morning and Robert Waley-Cohen has just been tackling his daily crossword.

While that exercise may have tested the owner-trainer’s brainpower, a much tougher puzzle awaits on Saturday when he saddles Oscar Time in the Crabbie’s Grand National.

The master of Upton Viva Stud at Edgehill, near Banbury, is hoping age will prove no barrier to his charge, who at 14 bids to become the oldest horse for 162 years to win the Aintree marathon.

Although well into the veteran stage, Oscar Time shows no signs of slowing down – as he illustrated by winning the Becher Chase over the big fences under Waley-Cohen’s amateur jockey son, Sam, last December.

That victory added to the 50-1 shot’s impressive Aintree record, having finished second to Ballabriggs in the 2011 National and fourth to Auroras Encore two years later when trained for Waley-Cohen by Martin Lynch in Ireland.


Considering what makes his charge come alive at the Merseyside venue, Waley-Cohen says: “You throw open the bottom of the box and he stands at the top and sniffs the air and you see him thinking ‘I know where I am, this is going to be fun’.

“He is just up for it.”

Oscar Time’s heroics around the course form just part of the Waley-Cohens’ tremendous record at the track.

The trainer has had five runners there, with Katarino winning the Fox Hunters’ Chase twice (2005 and 2006), as well as finishing second in 2008 and Roulez Cool being runner-up in the same race in 2012.

In addition, Sam has five Aintree wins under his belt, with Katarino’s double and Oscar Time’s success, being supplemented by wins from Liberthine (2006 Topham Chase) and Warne (2014 Fox Hunters) – both owned by his father.

He has also had four seconds and three places.

Waley-Cohen Snr says: “I would like to complete the pack and have a National winner.

“There is a magic about Aintree, which is hard to describe.

“It is a unique course in the world. It is a unique challenge of distance, and courage of horse and jockey.”

Waley-Cohen gave his veteran chaser a prep race at Doncaster in February, when he finished fourth to Ikorodu Road.

And he says: “Compared to how he was in December, I would say he is every bit as good, if not in slightly better form.

“Obviously there is a bit of an issue that he has to prove is that he is at the end of his career.

“He is proven over the fences and has a jockey with a great record over the fences.

“We have trained him to win the Becher Chase, and the negatives are I am training him, as opposed to a well-known professional trainer, and he is not a young horse.”