CHIPPING Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon is hoping Pendra will benefit from an operation to improve his breathing as he tackles the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree today.

The ten-year-old gelding underwent the surgery after finishing unplaced in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month on his first start for a year.

Longsdon said of the 80-1 outsider: “He has had a wind operation since Cheltenham where he choked in the very soft ground and he has come out of it very well.

“He was still there turning in and, on ground taking its toll, his wind wasn’t right and we had to do something about that.

“He had a gallop in Lambourn a week ago and seems absolutely fine.”

It will be Pendra’s second run in the world’s most famous steeplechase, having finished a distant 13th behind Rule The World over the stamina-sapping four miles and two and a half furlongs in 2016.

Conditions were very testing that day, and Longsdon admits the prospect of soft ground again is a concern for the JP McManus-owned son of Old Vic, whose best form, including his 2015 Sodexo Gold Cup win at Ascot, has come on a sounder surface.

The trainer said: “I do think there is more to come from him. He is so lightly raced. He has only had two runs since the National two years ago – both at Cheltenham.

“He has had his issues and that is the problem, but he still has all his ability and after Cheltenham and Aintree there are still big handicaps in him.

“I don’t deny that his best form is on better ground, but I have the right jockey in Aidan Coleman, who has ridden him round those fences before and I am sure Aidan will look after him.”

Pendra, who will be Longsdon’s fifth runner in the race, was also due to line up 12 months ago only to be a late withdrawal.

“He just picked up a little knock on the Wednesday before and we had to call it a day,” said the trainer.

“It was just one of those things.”

Now the master of Hull Farm Stables is hoping there will be no late dramas this time around.