04/01/2004 12:00AM

Bindaree set for Grand National


Bindaree is capable of recapturing the glory of his 2002 Grand National Steeplechase Handicap triumph in Saturday's 161st renewal at storied Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England.

Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, the 10-year-old Bindaree will carry 158 pounds. He was sixth in last year's race, no mean achievement considering the difficulty of Aintree's 30 National fences. The 12-1 Bindaree can stay the 4 1/2 miles and will appreciate the prevailing good ground. As an indication of his class, Bindaree won the 3 5/8-mile Welsh National on Dec. 27 over Sir Rembrandt, who subsequently finished a half-length second to Best Mate in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Worth $1.1 million, this year's Grand National also features Monty's Pass, the defending champ, but he has been off form of late. A bigger danger in the 40-runner field is the 9-1 favorite, Jurancon II. Trained by Martin Pipe, he has won going 4 1/4 miles and took a 3 1/2-mile Group 3 handicap on Feb. 28.

Clan Royal won over the Grand National course going 3 3/8 miles in November but has not run since. Le Coudray, the 168-pound highweight, has never won beyond 2 1/2 miles, but last year's third- and fourth-place finishers, Amberleigh House and Gunner Welburn, are both capable of a mild upset.