Paul Nolan got closer in a Grand National this week and can now look forward to an incline at another race he’s always dreamed of winning – the Randox Grand National.
A solid jumper and proven stayer, Discorama is ready to carry a practical 10st 6lb running weight and has drawn very strong support in every way as the big day approaches.
Discorama failed to line up at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, avoiding the reunion in favor of a trip to Liverpool – having run well in March at Prestbury Park for the three previous seasons without securing a victory.
In fact, despite a streak of admirable performances in ranked races, Discorama has not won at all since his triumph in his pursuit debut in 2018 – something County Wexford coach Nolan attributes to the both to his racing style and to a degree of unhappiness.
“He’s a little lucky,” said Nolan, whose last show was a fourth Irish National honor at Fairyhouse on Monday under the 11-pound 10-pound load.
“He’s been placed at three Cheltenham festivals, and he’s always a bit off the beat – it takes so much luck to run when you do that.
“You need things to happen in front of you. You must be very lucky – and unfortunately so many times he just hasn’t had that.
“He’s definitely a horse that we would love to have the head in front of, but it’s not easy with the way he runs and the way he stays a bit behind the bridle.
“You have to sit down and suffer – we tried different ways of leading him, and they didn’t seem to suit him.”
Nolan has trained three Grand National participants so far – Colonel Rayburn arriving in 2005 and 2006 and Joncol suffering the same fate in 2013.
“When you train horses there are the races you dream of – and the National is definitely one of them,” he said.
“The Gold Cup, the Irish National, the Irish Gold Cup – these are the races that everyone is always competing in.
“You have your favorite races, and the England National certainly captivates the hearts of millions.
“The winning horse becomes a household name for a while. It would absolutely be a dream come true if he were able to win.”
This dream is shared with the horse’s co-owner, Andrew Gemmell, famously associated with the prolific remaining hurdler Paisley Park and who shares Discorama with Thomas Friel.
Gemmell couldn’t be at Cheltenham, where Paisley Park finished a brave third in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
But the limitations on owners who frequent the trails have since eased, and he is looking forward to getting back on course for the race from Discorama to Aintree.
“It would be fantastic if he could put on a good show at Aintree,” he said.
“It’s everyone’s dream to win the National.
“He has been a very consistent horse and had three good points at Cheltenham.”
Paisley Park will also travel to Liverpool, taking entry into the Stayers’ Hurdle on the same day as the Grand National.
“He’s come out of Cheltenham really well, so he should be good to go,” Gemmell said of Emma Lavelle’s stable star.
“We would like some rain beforehand, but it should be great.
“It will be fantastic to be back – it’s really exciting and it will be a dream come true to perform them both at Aintree.”
Nolan was also absent for the Cheltenham Festival, missing Ms Milner’s triumph for him in the Pertemps final, but he plans to be present at Aintree – and is delighted that the owners of Discorama are too.
“I hope that everything stays on track and that I can go there. I intend to travel on my own,” he said.
“Andrew Gemmell and Tom Friel are the two guys who own it, so that would be good for the guys as well.
“Andrew was so disappointed he couldn’t see Paisley Park go to Cheltenham.
“Fortunately, the restrictions have been lifted and this will allow owners to get to Aintree. It’s a huge bonus.”