Paul Nolan has gone close in one Grand National this week and can now look forward to a tilt at another race he has has always dreamed of winning – the Randox Grand National.
A sound jumper and a proven stayer, Discorama is set to carry a handy racing weight of 10st 6lb and has been attracting very strong each-way support as the big day approaches.
Discorama did not line up at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, side-stepping the meeting in favour of a trip to Liverpool – having run well in March at Prestbury Park for the previous three seasons without enjoying a victory.
In fact, despite a string of admirable performances in graded races, Discorama has not won at all since triumphing on his chasing debut in 2018 – something County Wexford-based trainer Nolan attributes to both his running style and a degree of misfortune.
“He is due a bit of luck,” said Nolan, whose Latest Exhibition was a creditable fourth in the Irish National at Fairyhouse on Monday under the welter burden of 11st 10lb.
“He’s been placed at three Cheltenham Festivals, and he’s always off the pace that little bit – you need so much luck in running when you do that.
“You need things to happen in front of you. You need to be very lucky – and unfortunately, so many times he just didn’t have that.
“He’s certainly a horse we’d love to get his head in front, but it’s not easy with the way he runs and the way he stays behind the bridle a little bit.
“You have to sit and suffer – we’ve tried different ways of running him, and they didn’t seem to suit him.”
Nolan has trained three Grand National entrants thus far – with Colonel Rayburn pulling up in both 2005 and 2006 and Joncol meeting the same fate in 2013.
“When you train horses, there are the races that you dream about – and the National is certainly one of them,” he said.
“The Gold Cup, the Irish National, the Irish Gold Cup – they’re the races everyone’s always taking about.
“You have your favourite races, and certainly the English National captures the hearts of millions of people.
“The horse that wins it becomes a household name for a certain bit of time. It would absolutely be a dream come true if he was able to win.”
That dream is shared with the horse’s joint owner Andrew Gemmell, famously associated with the prolific staying hurdler Paisley Park and who shares Discorama with Thomas Friel.
Gemmell was not able to be at Cheltenham, where Paisley Park finished a gallant third in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
But limitations on owners attending tracks have since eased, and he is looking forward to being back on course for Discorama’s run at 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’s been a very consistent horse and he’s had three good runs at Cheltenham.”
Paisley Park will also travel to Liverpool, taking up an entry in the Stayers’ Hurdle on the same day as the Grand National.
“He’s come out of Cheltenham very well, and so he should be ready to go,” Gemmell said of Emma Lavelle’s stable star.
“We’d like a bit of rain beforehand, but he should be great.
“It’ll be fantastic to be back – it’s really exciting and it will be a dream come true to run both of them at Aintree.”
Nolan was also absent for the Cheltenham Festival, missing Mrs Milner’s triumph for him in the Pertemps Final, but he plans to be in attendance at Aintree – and is delighted Discorama’s owners will be too.
“Hopefully everything stays on track, and I can go there. I do intend to travel myself,” he said.
“Andrew Gemmell and Tom Friel, they’re the two guys that own him, so it’d be great for the lads as well.
“Andrew was so disappointed that he couldn’t get to see Paisley Park go to Cheltenham.
“Thankfully the restrictions have been lifted, and that’ll allow owners to go to Aintree. That’s a huge bonus.”