So long as Uttoxeter passes a morning inspection, Saturday will bring about the Midlands Grand National and it’ll be fascinating to see some more of our Aintree contenders in action in what will be extremely testing conditions.
Here are the main contenders along with a précis of their chances.
Back To The Thatch
Proven in the conditions having been full of running and well in contention in the Eider Chase (4 miles, heavy) when falling at the 16th fence last time out, however that race will have taken plenty out of him and he’s not certain therefore to be at his very best today. Still a leading contender though given that he’s an improving staying chaser.
Get On The Yager
Run three very similar races recently having gone from 3m2f, to 3m and then to 2m4f, so it seems he would have carried on improving had he actually gone up in trip meaning today’s distance is a positive for him. Heavy ground won’t be a problem and he has to hold very strong place chances indeed for Dan Skelton.
Fancied for the Eider Chase and these conditions are very similar, however having pulled-up there in 2017 and been beaten 33 lengths this year we cannot say with certainty now that he wants this sort of test. He was a 3m5f soft ground winner at Warwick in January though so cannot be totally discounted.
The Artful Cobbler
Henry Daly’s seven-year-old comes in here off a featherweight and is on a four-timer having completed the hat-trick in good style over 3m5f on heavy ground at Lingfield recently. To me the 8 pound rise in the handicap seems a tad harsh however and so unless this test unlocks some more improvement I feel place money is about as good as he can hope for this time.
Only had the three chases but his second ever run over the large obstacles sticks out like a sore thumb to me. He ran over three miles on heavy ground at Exeter that day and stayed on resolutely to score by 28 lengths. He ran OK next time in a Listed handicap chase at Warwick but given the conditions here and the 63-day break I can see plenty more improvement coming from him and he has to be given a leading shout.
West Of The Edge
One with plenty of chasing experience and as runner-up in the Eider Chase last time out he can boast the right type of form in the book as well. The truth however is that race was three weeks ago and not all of these types recover quite that quickly to be able to put in the same effort next time on this sort of going and that is what is niggling me with Dr Richard Newland’s horse.
So long as Back To The Thatch’s fall in the Eider nor the effort that preceded it have damaged him in any way he must stand a cracking each-way chance in this, but the vote goes to the lightly raced and lightly weighted WESTERN CLIMATE who I think will unlock more of his potential over this sort of trip to go on and land the valuable prize.
Get On The Yager and West Of The Edge are others who can run into places so long as the ground isn’t too deep.