England set to dominate at Grand National venue

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Aintree clash for cross-country runners at British & Irish Masters International on Saturday

England host the British and Irish Masters International at a fast and flat course at Aintree racecourse on Saturday (Nov 16) although athletes are basing themselves at Southport, where the presentations will be held on Saturday evening.

There will be five races with the addition of a new event the M65+ and W65+ 6km race to start proceedings at 11am. The W35 to W60 6km race follows at 12 noon, the M50 to M60 8km is at 12.45pm and the M35-M45 8km race is at 1.30pm. There is also an open 6km/8km at 2.15pm.

England are expected to dominate the team competitions but individual honours could well be more spread out.

Race 1: men 65-75 and women W65-75

In previous years the men aged over 65 have run with the women but here they will be will have a clearer run up front and they race up with the older women.

The RunBritain handicap rankings allow a reasonable comparison to be made among British competitors who rarely race each other, but Ireland is not part of that system.

All-time great and M65 2018 runner-up Nigel Gates (handicap 3.2 – the lower the better) in the absence of last year’s winner Alan Davies is clearly the favourite with last year’s third David Butler (4.2), Scotland’s Anthony Martin (4.8) and Andrew McLinden (5.2) and Wales’ Ello Lepore (5.4) the next best on the handicap.

Irish champion Paul Elliott should also place highly but England should easily retain the team title.

The M70 race should be between Northern Ireland’s former M65 winner Terry Eakin (6.9), Scotland’s Alex Sutherland (7.3) and England’s Mick Casey (7.9) and Malcolm Weir (8.6) with Scotland and England the pick of the teams.

England’s guitarist Peter Giles (8.6) looks the class of the M75 field but will be up against last year’s winner Robert Young (10.2) with Martin Ford (10.8) possibly the best of the rest.

Wales won the M75s last year but England have a much stronger squad this year.

Scotland should do well in the W65s with last year’s runner-up Ann White (13.6) backed up by stronger handicaps Jeanette Craig (11.4) and Jane Waterhouse (11.9).

Dorothy Kesterton (11.5), who was third last year, heads an experienced England team with Ireland’s Carmel McDomhnaill looking the other likely challenger.

W70 Angela Copson (11.5) could beat all the W65s and retain her title but could be challenged by European champion Penny Forse (12.3) while fellow team-mates Margaret Moody (13.8) and Ros Tabor (13.9) will dominate for England with Ireland’s Margaret Glavey looking the next best.

Women: Race 2 (W35-W60)

The overall women’s race last year saw Irish W40 Teresa Doherty narrowly win from fellow W40 Kirsty Longley of England and W35 winner Michelle Sandison of Scotland and all three return.

Longley (0.2) has been in better form this year, having run 33:43 for 10km in Leeds recently but Doherty has also been in form, winning the Irish overall title by half a minute.

Sandison (1.8) could see the W35 title go to fellow Scot Katie White (1.2) with White looking a likely overall winner too.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales could all challenge a far from full strength England W35 team, who have no runners in the top 100 British W35s in the RunBritain handicap lists.

England should win the W40s with Elizabeth Renondeau (1.9) and Louise Rudd (2.3) likely to back up Longley.

They also might well dominate the W45s with former international Emma Stepto (2.2), multiple past winner Claire Martin (2.5) and Lucie Tait-Harris (2.8) all potential medallists. Ireland’s Breda Gaffney, who was fourth last year, is another.

They will almost certainly dominate the W50s with Philippa Taylor (3.9) and world masters medallist Sue McDonald (4.0) probably heading the field with Wales’ Niki Morgan (5.0) a potential challenger.

In the W55s, three-time W50 winner Clare Elms (1.6) looks the pick of the field by some distance with Irish pairing Niamh O’Sullivan – a former overall winner – and Kay Byrne potential medallists. England’s Wendy Roethenbaugh (5.8), Caroline Wood (6.9) and last year’s third Monica Williamson (7.0) should ensure another English win.

Defending champion Pauline Moran of Ireland is expected to retain her W60 crown with Northern Ireland’s Patricia Brown (7.7) and England’s Carole Page (7.7) also likely to be to the fore. Ireland could challenge England in the team event.

Men: Race 3 (M50-M60)

Defending champion Tim Hartley (-1.9) has a superb record in the event and should again lead England to team glory but Wales’ Lee Aherne (-0.9) looks the best of the rest on handicaps.

England’s Andrew Mitchell and Wales Lee Jones (both -0.7) should be high up too.

European masters 10,000m champion Andrew Leach (-1.4) should be too strong for the rest and will have current world masters champion Ben Reynolds to back him up.

Another M50 winner Austin Davies (1.8) has not shown the same form of late but is a great competitor and another likely challenger is Irish champion Tommy Hughes, who ran a stunning world age 59 marathon best of 2:27 in Frankfurt.

Scotland’s European masters 5000m and road 10km champion Alastair Walker (0.4) is favourite for the M60 event but he could have trouble retaining his title by Northern Ireland’s David Clarke (0.3), who has the better handicap.

Led by Robert Atkinson (1.4) and Paul Muller (2.2), England should still win the team prize.

Men: Race 4 (M35-M45)

The M35 race will see Northern Ireland’s Mark McKinstry (-3.6) try and retain his title and 2018 runner-up Rossa Hurley also returns.

Conrad Franks (-3.2) may well lead the English team.

European masters 1500m champion Matthew Barnes (-2.7) should be a factor in the M40 age group as should Scot Grant Baillie (-2.1) and Ireland’s Paul Moloney in what could be an open team contest.

England should dominate the M45 team competition led by Andrew Grant and Terry Scott (-2.9) and 2018 third and European masters champion Simon Baines (-2.1).

Last year’s runner-up Scott Brember (-2.5) is sure to challenge the leading English runners.

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