Having put up Pineau De Re, as one of our two selections in last years renewal, we feel that the Dr Newland trained 12yo is well worth a second look again this time. He came into last years race off a superb performance in the Pertemps Hurdle Final at the Cheltenham Festival where he finished an unlucky third. He has followed the same route this year, finishing a respectable 11th of 23, in the Pertemps despite suffering some interference. Indeed he was running on strongly at the finish of what was a rough contest, demonstrating his continuing enthusiasm for the game. His highly talented trainer is bullish about his chances, and considering how well previous winners have performed in subsequent renewals of the great race, he does seem to have place prospects at least.
Alan King, who has enjoyed such a fruitful season runs the 9yo Godsmejudge, and Saturday has been his target all season. Having won and been runner up in the last two renewals of the Scottish National his stamina for Aintree seems assured. Indeed in last years national North of the border, it was stamina that got him to within 1 1/2L of the winner, Al Co, having been 4L behind jumping the last. He is now 5lbs better off with Al Co, and with 10st8lbs on his back does look well handicapped. One for the short list!
Even without the Mc Coy factor, Jonjo O’Neill’s 8yo Shutthefrontdoor would surely be one of the favourites on Saturday. By Accordion out of a Strong Gale mare, his pedigree is all about stamina, a point strongly emphasised by his staying on win in last years Irish National, (3m5f), which he won off a mark of 143. Confirming his wellbeing, and his ability to run well fresh, he reappeared seven months later, easily landing a conditions race at Carlisle in November. Put away with Saturday in mind, the one reservation would be his handicap Mark, 7lbs higher than his 3/4L win in the Irish National. However with Mc Coy aboard he does seem to have a great chance.
Paul Nicholls runs the 9yo Rocky Creek, and is another who has a lot going for him. In last year’s race he was travelling well and jumping superbly until running out of petrol at the 2nd last, and faded into a well beaten 5th. he had a wind operation over the summer, and judging by his win at Kempton (Feb 21) it must be judged a success. He escapes a penalty for Kempton, as it came after the National weights were published, so is effectively 7lbs well in on Saturday. If his stamina holds out, and the omens look good, this sound jumper must have a great chance of being involved at the business end at the weekend.
Something about Liverpool certainly seems to suit the Tom George trained Saint Are, as he seems to reserve his best performances for the place. Winner of a Gd1 hurdle here as a 5yo, he won a Cl 1 chase over the Mildmay course as a 6yo, and ran another fine race when finishing 3rd over the National fences last December. Having been outpaced, he was only 7th at the 2nd last, but ran on really well to be only 3 3/4L adrift at the post. He won easily last time out,(3m1f) in Febuary, so back at his favourite venue, he is certainly worth a second look.
The David Pipe trained Soll has certainly thrived since joining the Nicholshayne team this season. He has won his last two races, most recently a Newbury veterans handicap (3m2 1/2f Feb 28) again after the National weights were published, and so escaping a penalty. Nicely handicapped, with just 10st2lbs to carry, with the in form Tom Scudamore in the saddle, he certainly catches the eye. He jumped around in the race two years ago, finishing seventh, and looks a much improved animal now. well worth considering.
Keith Revely’s Night in Milan is another who has been aimed at the National all season. Something of a Doncaster specialist, he won last years Grimthorpe Chase, and came third in this years renewal. As the Grimthorpe has been a good guide in the past, this prominent racing, sound jumper is another to consider.
Selection : Rocky Creek
E.W. Saint Are.