Rugby union ace Mike Tindall is looking forward to his first Grand National experience with Monbeg Dude at Aintree.
The former England star famously bought the horse on impulse in January 2010 and his snap decision has already reaped rich reward, with victory in last season’s Welsh National.
But part-owner Tindall admits he would not be in his current position were it not for his wife, Zara Phillips.
The pair married in July 2011, and Tindall says the Queen’s granddaughter sparked his interest in the sport.
“From where I come from, we never went racing much as I was growing up, although obviously we took an interest in the National,” Tindall said.
“But I got more into it when I started going out with Zara.
“Gradually through that I got to meet some of the jockeys and then the trainers and it’s gone from there.
“Me and Zara were at the sale with Scu and he was an impulse buy. All the other horses that night made STG20,000 ($A36,166) plus so I thought I would be out-bid.
“But the bidding suddenly stopped with him. Zara wasn’t happy when I got landed with him!”
Phillips is a renowned equestrienne who boasts a three-day eventing world title and a silver medal from the London Olympics among her achievements.
She has been putting those skills to good use with Monbeg Dude, but was keen to downplay her role in the gelding’s noticeably improved jumping following his Cheltenham success.
“After the Welsh National, Zara said he was not quite respecting his fences and was lazy with his jumping. So she started doing some pole work with him and getting him sharp on his feet,” Tindall said.
“The progression is there to see, now he bounces over his fences. He travels a lot better now and is conserving his energy and speed.”
Tindall is currently a player-coach with Gloucester so should Monbeg Dude win, his celebrations will have to wait as his side play Wasps the following day.
Monbeg Dude’s hopes of Aintree glory on Saturday week were augmented on Wednesday when Scudamore announced he had secured the services of Paul Carberry.
“I think this is one of the best Nationals ever and it’s a hugely competitive race,” Scudamore said.
“But he deserves to take his chance and there are 39 others and 30 fences to get in the way.
“A lot has come together with the horse and Zara’s input has been huge. Her work has just made him a little more aware where his feet are over the obstacles.”
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