LUCINDA Russell will soon be the centre of worldwide attention when Corach Rambler bids to win back-to-back Grand Nationals over more than four miles and 30 fences at Aintree.

But before Russell focuses on the favourite for the Liverpool showpiece, she shows her versatility in Redcar’s opening race of 2024, on Easter Monday, by aiming to land a flat race over a mile.

The popular Scottish trainer (pictured below with Corach Rambler) saddles topweight Eastvan in the Welcome Back To Redcar Racecourse Novice Stakes, with the talented Oisin Orr in the saddle.

The Northern Echo:

The Make Believe gelding showed enough promise in two starts as a juvenile, finishing an eye-catching second on his debut at Hamilton before being placed again at Ayr, though he didn't run at three.

Those two-year-old runs were on soft and heavy ground respectively, so he should go through the testing conditions at Redcar, with Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Rogue Spirit, twice placed on the all-weather at Newcastle this year, looking the chief danger.

The first of Redcar’s 18 scheduled meetings in 2024 comprises seven races, with the feature being the Class 3 Market Cross Jewellers Handicap over six furlongs.

Twelfth Night won the contest last season when trained by Ruth Carr and is back for a repeat. A horse named after a Shakespeare play, in which a jester plays a central role, would be an apt winner on April Fool’s Day, but it will be tougher this time.

The five-year-old, now trained by Paul Midgley and ridden by Ryan Sexton, runs off a mark 11lbs higher than a year ago after twice winning at Ripon during a progressive season.

Grant Tuer’s Bajan Bandit, a solid second in a Class 2 handicap at Newmarket on his last run of 2023, will be well fancied at this lower grade.

However, better value may be found with bottom weight Fortamour, trained at Middleham by Ben Haslam and ridden by Joanna Mason, who is 12lbs better off for a length beating by Twelfth Night at Ripon in May.

Osmotherley trainer Gemma Tutty is in fine form with seven winners already on the board for 2024, and she’ll have high hopes that Look Back Smiling can follow up his recent victory in Doncaster’s Spring Mile in the Flat Is Back on Racing TV Handicap.

He’s up 4lbs for that success and is on a hat-trick after landing his last race of 2023, also at Doncaster. He was ridden both times by apprentice Brandon Wilkie, who’s back in the saddle, and the Fast Company gelding has proved that soft conditions aren’t a problem.

Michael Dods is another trainer who’s been enjoying a good run on the all-weather and his Arkenstaar looks an attractive proposition in the Better Value With Racecourse Bookmakers Handicap.

The Kessaar gelding won three races last season, all of them at Hamilton, and Dods is on record as saying he’s strengthened up over the winter. He looks capable of progressing from Class 5 handicaps and has the strong assistance of Connor Beasley, fresh from a successful campaign in Dubai.

Northern Cracksman, trained at Malton by Brian Ellison, wasn’t far away when third on the all-weather at Southwell two weeks ago, and looks capable of building on that in the WOODSmith Construction Handicap under Ben Robinson.

Arlington, trained in North Yorkshire by Bryan Smart, made all to win unchallenged on the all-weather at Newcastle recently, and aims to follow up on the turf in the Watch Race Replays At Handicap, with Andrew Breslin retaining the ride.

The last race on the card, the Handicap, is an open affair but Paul Midgley’s Enderman won on heavy at Nottingham last summer and has run creditably in three outings on the all-weather since the start of the year. He’ll have plenty of assistance with David Nolan in the saddle, and wears first-time blinkers.