THERE be one hell of a Celebration in the Welsh borders if Katy Price’s stable star can bag the Becher Chase today.
Veteran jumper Minellacelebration has been the horse of a lifetime for the up-and-coming trainer.
And this afternoon, he could win the biggest race over Aintree’s famous fences outside of the Grand National.
The 10-year-old was the catalyst for Price’s life-changing gamble – as she packed up her own business to follow her dream of being a racehorse trainer.
It was a big risk – but she admits she isn’t opposed to the odd punt. And so far it is paying off.
She said: “I started with three horses five years ago who were all point-to-pointers. They were all too good for pointing really and Minellacelebration was the best of them.
“He was the main reason that I took out my licence and now the yard has grown to 25 horses now. So, in a sense, I owe everything to him.
“I’d spent a few years working for a big mobile phone company before setting up my own little business in my local town. I used to train the horses after work, but I decided to give up my business three years ago to start training full-time.
“It started out as a hobby, but in all honesty it’s an addiction. When you train a winner, you want to keep winning, and the more horses you have the more rolls of the dice you get.
“My mum has said I need to leave the horses alone as there is no money in it – and she is probably still right!
“We have to be realistic; a lot of our horses are staying chasers who are lower grade horses. But we do well with the horses we have. We can still have fun with them and bet on them.
“So when you get horses of Minella’s calibre, it means an awful lot.”
Price’s stock continues to rise in the world of jumps racing, which can be a tough sport unless your name is Paul Nicholls or Nicky Henderson.
And with a name like hers, Price also gets plenty of unwanted attention – and she has urged punters that enough is enough!
“It is still happening now I’m afraid, with Twitter being the main culprit,” she joked.
“I’m sure you can imagine some of the messages I receive, but some of them are along the lines of ‘fair play, you’re a better trainer than you were a model’.
“When Katie Price was classier it wasn’t such a big deal, but now the wheels have fallen off her wagon a little, it’s a bit more insulting!”
But the Hay-on-Wye trainer is being recognised for all the right reasons now.
Minellacelebration, or Seb as they call him at home, is among the leading contenders for the £120,000 Becher Chase.
He has already had a sighter around the famous course, finishing tenth in the race last year having jumped and travelled nicely through the race.
But Price, 41, reckons the horse is in much better nick this time around – as he showed when bolting up by 14 lengths around Aintree’s ‘Mildmay’ Course in October.
She said: “All our preparation has gone well so it’s been a case of wrapping him in cotton wool for the last few days.
“The horse runs really well around the Mildmay Course and we half thought about running in the Many Clouds Chase, which is a Grade 2 and has been historically a small field race.
“We thought we’d give him an entry – but it ended up being a mini Gold Cup with Santini, Frodon and Native River in there!
“He put in a nice, clear round in the Becher last year and was bang there two out before fading at the finish.
“He had a wind op after that and his form improved straight away. His work at home this year has been a lot better and he goes there in much better form this time.
“Last time at Aintree you could call him the winner with a circuit to go, he just bounded round there and jumped like a bunny, it was an amazing performance.”
And another show-stopping performance this afternoon will likely tee up a return trip to Merseyside in April for the big one.
Price continued: “We’ve looked after him and he has looked after us. I’m so proud of him. I’ve had him since he was four and he has seen me through the tough times.
“I ride him every day myself, he is a bit of a plodder in all honesty but as long as he comes alive on the racecourse that is all that matters.
“We were dreaming of the Grand National last year but obviously it never happened.
“Now he’s up to a mark where he will likely get in. To have a runner in the Grand National after such a short space of time with a licence – it would just be incredible.”
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