LETCOMBE Bassett trainer Mark Bradstock is hopeful Step Back can overcome his relative lack of experience when he goes for glory in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, writes Russell Smith.

The nine-year-old gelding, an impressive 13-length winner of the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown last April, will be having just his seventh run over fences under National Hunt rules.

But Coneygree defied the statistics for the yard by landing the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015, and Bradstock is optimistic Step Back can do the same with his Sandown success standing him in good stead.

“The bet365 Gold Cup had a lot of runners,” he said. “It is a race where you always want to try and keep out of trouble.”

Step Back has had just two starts this season, coming seventh on his reappearance at Chepstow in October, before posting a sixth-place finish at Warwick in January.

Bradstock, who trains Step Back with his wife, Sara, said: “The first one was fine as the ground was a bit quick at Chepstow.

“At Warwick he pulled a shoe off which would certainly not have helped him as he has terrible flat feet, so in hindsight it was not too bad.

“He seems in really good shape and looks really well. I think if he runs a race like he did in the bet365 Gold Cup he could be in with a shout. He seems to love the spring. He is not really a winter horse.”

Step Back, a 25-1 chance, hasn’t run since due to a combination of unfavourable ground and having a flu injection following the outbreak of equine influenza.

The son of Indian River is set to be ridden by Nico de Boinville, who partnered Coneygree to that famous victory four years ago, but the jockey is yet to get past the first fence in two attempts at the National.

“I think he finished third in the Topham (over the National fences),” said Bradstock. “He is a fabulous horseman. He knows our horses and he knows him.”

De Boinville and Step Back were joined by Bradstock’s 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup hero Carruthers, now 16 and thriving in retirement, in a schooling session over the replica National fences in Lambourn recently.

Bradstock, who trains at Old Manor House stables from where the late Tim Forster prepared three National winners – Well To Do (1972), Ben Nevis (1980) and Last Suspect (1985) – added: “He jumped well.

“They are slightly different, but he has come from a showjumping person (George Stewart), who taught him to jump properly.”

Owned by the Cracker And Smodge Partnership headed by Jamie McCloud, who works in the city, Step Back will be the trainer’s second runner in the race.

His first attempt ended in tragedy when Do Rightly suffered a fatal fall at the fourth fence in the 1998 renewal – and Bradstock admitted to a certain amount of trepidation as the big day approaches.

“Sadly we had one that got killed,” he said. “He had finished third in the SunAlliance Chase and it was tragic.

“Obviously we are apprehensive, simple as that.

“As everyone will tell you there have been a lot of modifications, which can only be good for the welfare of the horse.

“To have a horse that has every right to be there in a race like that is very exciting.

“He stays really well and jumps brilliantly, but like every race we get incredibly nervous.”