Friday, February 17, 2017

Haydock's Grand National Trial 2017

A sexagenarian acquaintance of mine has dedicated an adult lifetime to ensuring he never buys more than four alcoholic drinks in one go.

Earlier this week the Jockey Club announced they were to take a leaf straight out of his book by imposing a similar restriction on everyone frequenting public bars at this year's Cheltenham Festival. Interesting - should certainly keep punters on their toes in between races (when they're not collecting winnings).

Four weeks today we'll know the winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup; seven weeks tomorrow we'll know the winner of the Grand National.

Tomorrow's Betfred Grand National Trial Handicap Chase (3.15 Haydock) run over three and a half miles wouldn't be the most appropriately named event in the racing calendar given that in the past decade only three previous winners have gone on to compete in the Aintree showpiece the same season: Rambling Minster pulled up in 2009; Silver By Nature finished twelfth in 2011; and Giles Cross pulled up in 2012.

Blaklion heads the market for tomorrow's renewal. The Twiston-Davies yard has been in fine form in recent weeks and I've a soft spot for this RSA winner but the gelding hasn't looked quite the same this season - there's still a question in my mind as to whether that race has left its mark.

Ryan Hatch reported his mount 'made a noise' after coming home fifth in the Hennessy and he was comprehensively beaten behind Definitely Red and Wakanda in the Rowland Meryck at Wetherby on Boxing Day. Connections obviously feel the extra half mile will suit but on Wetherby form Blaklion struggles to reverse placings with Wakanda.

I tipped Kruzhlinin as an outsider with a squeak for last year's National (having finished tenth in 2014 and seventh in the Becher the following December) but he didn't trouble the commentator. A previous course winner, his second behind Our Kaempfer reads well but he's priced accordingly as is Goodtoknow who ran a fine race behind One For Arthur at Warwick but jumped persistently right on that occasion which causes concern.

Vieux Lion Rouge won the Becher in December (The Last Samuri, Ucello Conti and One For Arthur amongst those beaten) and has been allocated 10-7 for this year's National for which he's quoted at 25/1. There was a hint he landed the spoils a shade cleverly the last day and off a mark just four pounds higher this previous course winner looks to hold every chance.

On the lookout for an each-way chance, I've concentrated on three who come into this having shown some recent form.

Tour Des Champs was something of a revelation on his first run for new connections when winning at Cheltenham on New Year's Day at odds of 50/1. He won't be that price tomorrow and has been raised eight pounds for that effort.

Houblon Des Obeaux seems to have been around for ever and is fully exposed. On his penultimate run he was third behind Native River in the Welsh National and then finished fourth behind One For Arthur at Warwick; on revised terms he's set to finish a lot closer to Goodtoknow. All his wins have come with Aidan Coleman in the plate but Aidan rides at Ascot tomorrow; Charlie Deutsch is an able deputy, claims three and won a big prize on Otago Trail at Sandown two weeks ago.

Wakanda appeals as a young horse with a progressive profile coming slowly back to form. This is only his second attempt over a distance further than three miles; all his chase wins to date have come over distances between two miles three furlongs and three miles.

Vieux Lion Rouge is my idea of the winner but at the prices I'm going to take an each-way interest in Houblon Des Obeaux, 14/1 with Sky Bet who offer one fifth the odds four places.

Finally, congratulations to Captain Guy Disney who made history at Sandown earlier today by becoming the first amputee jockey to win at a professional racecourse in Britain, guiding Rathlin Rose (13/8f) to victory in the Royal Artillery Gold Cup.


Anonymous said...

I took a good look at the Grand National trial but struggled to find any edge. Aqalim, a decent staying hurdler for John Ferguson, won off a mark of 135 when last seen in handicap company and he races off an inviting 137 today. The visor is back on, the step up to 3 ½ miles threatens to suit as will the going if it is genuinely good to soft. Odds of 50/1 should be tempting but overall he does not really look to have taken to the bigger fences so I’ll just watch the race with interest.

My Khalees [Les Ambassadeurs Casino Handicap Hurdle] is the only bet I’ve struck today.

Baring one or two hiccups the form of this lightly raced mare has a progressive look to it. She started this season dead heating in a Cheltenham bumper before falling at the 2nd obstacle when sent off 5/4F on her hurdles debut. She put that run behind her when finishing 2nd to Colin’s Sister (who won again at Sandown yesterday) and followed up with a win next time out (the 2nd has won since). I’m hoping she is better than her 122 mark and at odds of 16/1 (missed the early 25/1) looks a reasonable e-way bet.

Best of luck


GeeDee said...

Sent to the front from the off, Gas Line Boy (12/1) went a fair clip in the Grand National Trial and clearly enjoyed himself. Coming to the home turn for the final time he had seen off the majority of his rivals (the selection included) and was headed by the two principals Blaklion (7/2f) and Vieux Lion Rouge (8/1)three from home. Jumping the last it looked as though a battle royale might ensue but Tom Scudamore cheekily put a couple of lengths between himself and Blaklion, suggesting there was more than sufficient left in the tank. Gas Line Boy was run out of third by well-supported novice Vintage Clouds (5/1) after the last.

Selection Houblon Des Obeaux (14/1) jumped well enough mid-division for much of the trip but was unable to make ground when asked in the back straight on the final circuit; he finished a well-beaten eighth, over forty lengths behind the winner. Unsurprisingly, David Pipe's charge has been installed the new favourite for the National, quoted as low as 10/1 with both Sky Bet and Paddy Power for the Aintree showpiece.