Unfortunately, our selection in the Grand National Trial at Haydock, The Dutchman, broke a blood vessel, and had to be pulled up after jumping the tenth. However trainer Tizzard, reports him still to be “very much on course for Aintree” so bear him in mind come April. Happily our Second suggestion, Mysteree, plugged on at odds of 9/1 to finish third and save the E.W. cash.
First run in 1952, The Gosforth Park marathon hasn’t been a great heat for young chasers with only seven 7yo’s prevailing in the entire history of the contest and we still await a win by anything younger. That said, not many have tried, and if David Pipe runs his very progressive young chaser, Daklondike, we might just see this particular stat consigned to the history books.
A late withdrawal from last Saturday’s Grand National Trial, the son of Goldwell, (An unraced half brother to super stallion, Montjeu) is a winner of three of his five starts over fences, and was particularly impressive last time, when, racing off a mark of 133 in Newbury’s Mandarin Chase (3m2f Heavy Dec 30) he put Grand Vision, and last year’s Eider Chase runner up, Knockanrawley, firmly in their place, staying on strongly from the last. As Grand Vision won easily at Wincanton next time out, (now rated on 141), and the fifth horse home in the Mandarin, Tanit River, won at Sandown on Friday, the form looks pretty strong. A full brother to the classy Great Endeavour, (rated155) there is surely plenty more to come from Daklondike and he looks well treated on just a 7lbs higher mark at the weekend. His excellent trainer, David Pipe, who won the race with subsequent Grand National Hero, Comply Or Die in 2008, must fancy his chances of taking the prize home to Nicholashayne for a second time.
The Dr Richard Newland trained 10yo, West Of The Edge was beaten 3 1/2L by Saturday’s opponent, Emperor’s Choice (Haydock 3m3 1/2f Heavy Dec30) but reopposes on 7lbs better terms at the weekend. A winner over Warwick’s tricky fences, (3m5f soft) his sound jumping will certainly be a considerable asset, and with the Newland Yard firing in the winners, the son of Westerner is worth considering.
Trainer, Neil King, will be hoping to again secure the services of Jockey of the moment, Bryony Frost, for his 11yo, Milansbar. The veteran beat Cogry by 11L to take a valuable Grade3 Warwick Handicap, ( 3m5f soft ) under a superb ride by Ms Frost six weeks ago. He is 9lbs higher on Saturday, but this runner up in the 2016 Midland Grand National (4m1 1/2f Soft) will get every yard of the trip, and with the benefit of Bryony’s superb skill from the saddle, and of course her valuable claim, Milansbar can again go close.
The Harry Whittington trained Vinnie Lewis (pictured)has only had four races over fences but he has looked most progressive in the last two. The 7yo won a modest Class4 Sedgefield Handicap off a mark of 113 (3m2 1/2f soft) at the end of November, and followed up forty days later, when taking the valuable, Class3 Sussex National (3m4 1/2f Heavy) off a fourteen pounds higher mark, winning by a comfortable looking six lengths. This rapidly improving young horse is raised another 9lbs on Saturday, but it wouldn’t surprise if he was up to it.
For a horse that won a Wetherby Grade2 Novices Chase by 22L from The now rated 145 Callet Mad, this time last year, the 9yo Baywing, looks well treated on a mark of 140 for Saturday. Things haven’t gone his way in his five subsequent starts, but his third to Smooth Stepper over the course last time (2m7 1/2F Soft) was a little more encouraging, and with improvement expected for the step up to a marathon trip, Nicky Richards charge is worth a second look.
The Henry Daly trained, Back To The Thatch, is another 6yo attempting to defy that long standing stat stretching back to 1952. Last time out, on only his fourth run over fences, he won like an animal with plenty still in the tank (Chepstow 3m Heavy). This very stoutly bred son of Westerner, ( his dam is by the stayer Phardante) could well finish the campaign on a considerably higher mark than Saturday’s 129. Worth a second look with his nice racing weight of 10-6 !
Selection : Vinnie Lewis
E.W. : Daklondike