BUSINESSMEN from County Durham are confident their horse could win big when he makes his debut in the Grand National today.

Lee Ellison and Lee Aldsworth, partners at Bishop Auckland-based SprayClad, will be cheering on their horse The Dutchman when the claxon sounds at the 171st annual race at Aintree Racecourse today.

The pair have high hopes after The Dutchman's big race jockey Harry Cobden and trainer Colin Tizzard enjoyed success yesterday by securing first place in the Topham Chase with Ultragold.

Mr Aldsworth, 40, of Coundon, said: “We’re all now going into the race full of confidence.

“We paid £42,000 for him and he’s won us £95,000 up to now. If he wins on Saturday, and there’s every chance he could as he's bouncing at the minute, we could win £585,000.

“He’s more than capable of winning this, we’ve got no doubt about his ability.”

Mr Aldsworth, 40, and Mr Ellison, 45, have owned horses for about five years and bought The Dutchman two-and-a-half-years ago.

The son of King’s Theatre, a well-known successful Irish-bred Thoroughbred racehorse and sire, The Dutchman has so far won three races including the three-mile Peter Marsh Chase, at Haydock Park.

This will be its longest race to date. Mr Aldsworth, who will fly to the race via helicopter from Coundon today, picked the horse after it caught his eye.

“My dad was taking me to Sedgefield Racecourse from the age of four,” he said. “ Now I follow the breeding really carefully and do all my home work.

“At home me and my girlfriend, Fern Nicholson, laugh because Mondays are always the same – I watch Irish Point to Point and she watches her soaps while our dog Coco is ragging his toys around.”

Former Darlington footballer Mr Ellison, of Bishop Auckland, said it was a “dream” to own a horse like The Dutchman.

“Just to have your own horse and see him do well, there’s no better buzz,” he added.