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Published: 15:51 | 8/4/16

Aspell hoping for third Grand National

The Dubliner won on Pineau De Re in 2014 and Many Clouds last year

Two-time Grand National winner Leighton Aspell says he could ride pre-race favourite Many Clouds "with his eyes closed".

Aspell could secure an unprecedented third consecutive Grand National win with victory on Many Clouds again at Aintree on Saturday, and the Kildare jockey, 39, says he now has an almost telepathic relationship with the horse.

Aspell has ridden Many Clouds in all 24 of the nine-year-old's starts, and is the only jockey to have ridden the horse over jumps.

"Where I’m so lucky is that I promise you, you could ride Many Clouds with your eyes closed," he told the Guardian.

"I don’t want to jinx him so he’ll fall at the first, but if he can see the fence, he can work it out, he doesn’t need me to tell him how to jump. That means I can focus on being in the right place at the right time, when to use energy and when to conserve it.”

Aspell announced his retirement from the sport in July 2007, but came back after 18 months to ride for Oliver Sherwood’s stable following a serious injury to jockey Dominic Elsworth.

"I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I should," he said.

"The mileage was a real drag, and there were other parts of the sport I could work at, but in the end I realised that I couldn’t replace the race-riding part of it. I should have just taken a couple of months off."

He admits that his career has been revitalised by the pairing with Sherwood and owner Trevor Hemmings.

"I just wanted to get enough rides to make a living and support my family," Aspell said.

"I promise you I’d have been happy just making a living at it, but then Oliver had an injection of new owners, and Many Clouds came along."

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