Becher Chase: The winning Grand National team are back in town

David Mullins won The Grand National in his first ride in the famous race on 33-1 shot Rule The World
David Mullins won The Grand National in his first ride in the famous race on 33-1 shot Rule The World

The top team is back in town.

Eight months after taking a memorable Aintree Grand National with Rule The World, the same owner-trainer-jockey combination returns to Liverpool with their sights on another renowned prize on jump racing's most famous track.

This time, owner and airline tycoon Michael O'Leary, trainer Michael 'Mouse' Morris and jockey David Mullins are targeting the Betfred Becher Chase, staged around three-quarters of the Grand National course where the forbidding Becher's Brook must be cleared just once.

With last spring's Merseyside star - which carried the silks of O'Leary's racing operation, Gigginstown House Stud - now retired, they are represented by Rogue Angel, who teed up an unforgettable fortnight for the owner and trainer when winning Ireland's Grand National 12 days before Aintree.

And Morris believes the eight-year-old, who has had a small procedure aimed at assisting his breathing since finishing last at Cork in November, could one day himself "rule the world".

He said: "Rogue Angel would be a real National type. We've won it once so everything else would be a bonus, [but] there's no point sleeping if you don't dream.

"He had a slight wind problem and wasn't getting home so he had a small operation and that seems to have made a difference.

"We'll see how he gets on [in the Becher Chase], but all being well he'll probably have another run and then we'd plan to keep him fresh for the Grand National - of course I'd love to win another one."

The victory of Rule The World, who was pensioned off because it was felt that he had no more to prove, turned out to be a vintage Aintree fairytale.

The horse, winning his only steeplechase at the 14th attempt, was bouncing back after a catalogue of injuries which included fracturing his pelvis twice. Meanwhile, at 19 his jockey, a nephew of Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins, was amongst the youngest riders to win in the race's 177-year history.

But for raw emotion, it was Morris who was the centre of attention as he spoke of continuing to come to terms with the tragic loss of his son Christopher - 'Tiffer' - who died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning aged 30 in 2015, while on holiday in South America.

Looking to the skies, the one-time leading jockey famously declared that "Tiffer was working overtime for me".

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David Mullins on 'magical' Grand National win

April's 33-1 victory came over joint favourite The Last Samuri, who will also be returning to Aintree for the Becher Chase in which jockey of the moment Brian Hughes, the winner of 31 races during November, is due to ride.

Talking of form, Colin Tizzard, trainer of big names Cue Card, Thistlecrack and Native River, looks to make jump racing's Saturday headlines for the fifth week running with Viconte Du Noyer.

And attempting to make Becher Chase history by becoming the first back-to-back winner, will be the Jimmy Moffatt-trained Highland Lodge.

The 10-year-old is to be ridden by jockey Henry Brooke, who recently made a comeback from an injury considered serious enough by doctors for him to spend several days in an induced coma in October.

Cumbria-based Moffatt said: "The horse has had a nice, gradual run [build-up] as he's been in full training since the middle of July. He hasn't been on track but that's been on purpose as we have lovely big fields here we can work around.

"It was soft ground when he won last year, and obviously we'd like conditions to be replicated as much as possible, but if you dip back in his form he's run some good races on good ground too."

A total of 24 runners have been confirmed for the feature at Aintree, while six will be chasing the weekend's other major British prize, the two-mile Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.

With Sprinter Sacre, the reigning champion chaser over the distance, retired because of injury, another old favourite Sire De Grugy looks to win the race for what would be a record-equalling third time.

As usual, jockey Jamie Moore rides Sire De Grugy for his trainer-father Gary, who also saddles Ar Mad, a winner on the Sandown card in 2015, ridden by Jamie's brother Josh.

Heading the field is the Ruby Walsh-ridden Irish chaser Un De Sceaux, runner-up to Sprinter Sacre at the Cheltenham Festival, and expected to be a standard-bearer for the Willie Mullins stable in the months ahead.

The bookies were predicting that Mullins, for whom Un De Sceaux will be his first runner of the season in Britain, would saddle the brilliant, 10-race winning six-year-old Douvan, but he misses the race.

I suppose it's easy to say when you haven't backed him, but, in my opinion, it was slightly disappointing that some ante-post bets on Douvan were returned. The risk of being a late non-runner is, after all, what betting in advance of a race is all about.

BBC Radio 5 live will be at Aintree and Sandown for all the news on Saturday.