Pensioner couple who train horses as hobby confident stable superstar Nuts Well can see off big names again at Aintree

FAIRYTALE results are rarer and rarer in racing these days.

But if Nuts Well can spring another Aintree surprise in the Melling Chase, it might be one worthy of its own book.

Pensioner husband and wife team Ann and Ian Hamilton head to Liverpool today from their Northumberland farm.

They train just five horses on the side of their cattle and sheep business in a small village north of Newcastle.

But when one of those animals is Nuts Well, it’s no surprise Ian is struggling to get Ann away from the horses in the morning.

Ian, officially down as assistant trainer and owner, said: “We have five horses in at the moment, but we’re doing alright with them! Ann has some win percentage going this year.

“But we’re old age pensioners now, and can’t have more than six in anyway. We only have one girl who helps us.

“We’re farmers really, we have cattle and sheep, and to be honest it’s just a hobby. Ann still rides the horses at home, not me anymore. But I try to stop her, I’m not sure she should be anymore at 73!”

Taking on the likes of Paul Nicholls, Henry De Bromhead and Joseph O’Brien would have some worried – but not the Hamilton team.

The stable once went six seasons on the spin without a single win, but Aintree has been kind to the pair over the years.


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In 2003, former flag-bearer Divet Hill won a dramatic Fox Hunters over the famous Grand National fences.

And Ian reckons their latest star could again ruffle some feathers on the back of his 18-1 surprise win in the Old Roan.

He said: “The win at Aintree wasn’t just a flash in the pan, the form has worked out well and we had top-weight that day.

“He goes well fresh usually, but he’s had five months off now so there’s a difference between that and a two month break.


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“He’s just been ticked over at home, it doesn’t take much to freshen him up and he seems spot on. There’s been nothing wrong with him, we just haven’t been able to find a race.

“They don’t rate us because we’re just small-time trainers. But we went to the Old Roan as top-weight and I couldn’t believe the price that day.

“He’d won at Kelso just a few weeks before where he beat Aye Right and that form looks alright too, doesn’t it?”

The husband and wife team will be at Aintree with their one member of staff. However, they do wish a couple of their opponents had stayed in Ireland.

Ian laughed: “We’re up against it, we know that, you’ve got Politologue who has won the Champion Chase.

“Joseph O’Brien’s horse [Fakir D’oudairies] is the one we have to beat I think, we hoped he’d stay in Ireland!

“The race is a bit hotter than we thought it might have been, but there’s nowhere else for us to go so there we are.

“They’ve been watering the ground plenty, but we like it quick. The quicker the better for us, he’s only a little horse so handles it better than others. That might be to our advantage.”


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