National fever strikes Hammers

Grand National fever has hit Chadwell Heath in the shape of the annual West Ham United sweepstake!

Grand National fever has hit Chadwell Heath in the shape of the annual West Ham United sweepstake.

The players and backroom staff were invited to invest a small stake in return for a sealed envelope containing the name of one of the 39 horses running in Saturday’s Aintree showpiece.

Everyone from manager Sam Allardyce and first-team squad to the groundstaff and training ground chef was invited to take part in what has become a yearly ritual at Chadwell Heath.

Of the backroom staff, Teddy Sheringham will be feeling confident after picking an envelope containing the name of 9/1 second-favourite Rocky Creek, who came fifth a year ago.

While their attention will no doubt be focused 100% on beating Stoke City, the players will hope to return to the dressing room to news of a win for their entry.

Carlton Cole was the first player to pick his envelope, pulling out 40/1 shot Chance Du Roy, who has been tipped by some to be a surprise winner.

The squad’s resident horse racing expert is Jussi Jaaskelainen, who owns a number of trotting horses in his native Finland. The goalkeeper will be hoping to catch the jackpot with 100/1 outsider Ely Brown.

James Collins looks to have a better chance of success with 2014 winner Pineau de Re, while Carl Jenkinson will be hoping for a repeat of 14/1 chance The Druids Nephew’s recent win at the Cheltenham Festival.

Stewart Downing has floated his stake on the 25/1 shot Many Clouds and Adrian will be hoping First Lieutenant marches to victory over the 30 fences at the same price.

Joey O’Brien will be hoping Across the Bay will celebrate his eleventh birthday by winning on his third appearance in the big race at 33/1, while Matt Jarvis to be facing a mountainous task with 66/1 chance Wyck Hill.

Mark Noble will be hoping Tranquil Sea sails serenely to National glory, but the 13-year-old is more likely to sink the midfielder’s hopes at 80/1.

Unfortunately for Big Sam, will be able to ignore the hype surrounding the big race as his pick Carlito Brigante was withdrawn from the four-and-a-half mile race on Friday morning!

The favourite Shutthefrontdoor, being piloted by the legendary Arsenal-supporting AP McCoy, was pulled out by performance analyst Josh Andall.

The Grand National will start at 4.15pm on Saturday – midway through the second half of the Hammers’ Barclays Premier League clash with Stoke City.