Kerry Lee: Rookie trainer targets a dream Grand National win

Kerry Lee's horse Mountainous at Chepstow
Kerry Lee's horse Mountainous won a muddy race at Chepstow on 9 January

There's no question that rookie trainer Kerry Lee's favourite day is Saturday.

Lee, who took over the reins of the 30-horse family training operation from her father Richard in July, has earned her growing reputation on the back of mopping up a string of valuable prizes on the highest-profile afternoon of the racing week.

In 2016 so far, Bishops Road ran away with a supposedly competitive race at Sandown on 2 January, a week before Mountainous ploughed through deep Chepstow mud for a second victory in the postponed Welsh Grand National.

Then on 16 January, it was the turn of the stable's runner Russe Blanc, jump racing's only white horse, to darken the mood of his rivals in a televised race at Warwick. Most recently, Top Gamble caused a shock result when defeating the reigning Queen Mother Champion Chaser Dodging Bullets at Newbury.

And the 39-year-old is not stopping there. Highlighted on the calendar at Lee HQ in west Herefordshire is the date of the most important Saturday of the jumps season, 9 April, when all eyes will be on Aintree for the Crabbies Grand National.

Bishops Road, Mountainous and Russe Blanc are all being targeted at the £1m prize - via, of course, more Saturday action.

Horse Russe Blanc in action at Warwick
Russe Blanc won a race at Warwick on 16 January

"I'm like a kid the night before Christmas on a Friday night, I'm so excited," Lee told BBC Sport. "I can hardly sleep. It's amazing, it's what dreams are made of.

"People say that new trainers usually target smaller races, earlier in the week, but you've got to be a little bit bold, and that's the way I am.

"Basically, we are only a small yard, and I ride out and feed them, and hopefully know when they are in good health, and if I think it's the right thing to do, I'll do it."

In the run-up to Aintree, Bishops Road and Mountainous are likely to try to show off their big-race credentials in the three-and-a-half mile Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock on 20 February; Russe Blanc, meanwhile, is set to travel to the North East for the Betfred Eider Chase, staged over four miles at Newcastle the following Saturday.

Lee said: "Bishops Road's owner Alan Halsall is a director of Aintree, so we bought him with the race in mind. He'll go up in distance at Haydock and that'll tell us if the Grand National or the [shorter] Topham Chase is best.

"Mountainous definitely goes to Aintree. People talk about him wanting very soft ground, but I think he's such a nice model of a horse, and a beautiful mover that any worries about better ground there will be cancelled out by the extreme distance.

"Russe Blanc really benefitted from being upped in distance at Warwick, and we hope that there's more to come from him, that's all I can say. He has the Irish National as an alternative."

The bad news on the Irish race, however, is that it's on a Monday.