Rain Forecast at Haydock Park7 min read
Saturday is the only day in the racing calendar that the Grand National fences are used on more than one occasion with the 3m 3f Becher Chase and 2m 5f Grand Sefton Chase the feature races of a cracking card at Aintree.
Blaklion led the National field going well crossing the Melling Road for the second time back in April but faded into fourth. The form of his half-length second to Bristol de Mai in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby back in October has been franked by the subsequent facile Grade 1 success of the winner at Haydock and the Nigel Twiston-Davies horse is only 1lb higher in the weights at the weekend then when running such a great race in the National.
Blaklion is only 3/1 for the Becher but looks by far the most likely winner and the hope is that he drifts out slightly between now and post time. Blaklion is 16/1 favourite for the 2018 National and is likely to be ridden with a bit more restraint in the spring than was the case this year.
Rain is forecast at Haydock Park, at the time of writing, it is uncertain if the wind and rain will arrive during or after racing. The ground is already described as heavy and conditions look sure to be extremely testing.
There is a valuable Novices’ Chase over two-and-a-half-miles and the interesting runner is Charlie Longsdon’s son of Stowaway, Ballydine (1.20), who has not been seen on the track since finishing tailed off in the Grade 1 Hurdle at the Aintree Grand National meeting last April.
His previous second to Barters Hill at Doncaster – beaten less than a length – is top class novice hurdle form and fellow Evertonian Longsdon may need cheering up with the 229th Merseyside Derby coming up this weekend and news on Monday night that the 230th will be the 3rd Round of the FA Cup also at Anfield next month. The yard had a good winner – Nightfly – at Southwell yesterday.
Niblawi makes his hurdles debut for Neil Mulholland in the colours of Brighton owner Tony Bloom and it will be interesting to see what the market makes of his chances. The 5-year-old went well on the level with cut in the ground but his ability to handle heavy winter ground and eight flights of hurdles must be taken on trust.
Shivermetimbers (1.55) is a half-brother to a couple of winning hurdlers and made a winning debut when landing a soft ground Warwick Bumper back in March. Trained by Venetia Williams the five-year-old is no star but he might be able to make a winning debut over timber.
The maiden Just Georgie shaped as if he would appreciate a step up in trip when runner up at Bangor last time over 2m 4f and he must run well in the near 3m Chase. The mud-loving Morney Wing (2.25) is 6lbs lower than when winning the Sussex National at the beginning of the year and gets the vote, however, for Charlie Mann who has saddled two winners with his last three runners.
Donald McCain’s Whiskey Chaser has no history of going well fresh, but the stable are in cracking form and he is another to consider in a competitive heat.
Ravensdale (3.00) ran in the colours of his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies on his British debut when runner up in a Southwell Bumper, but will go to post in the colours of leading owner Simon Munir of Bristol de Mai fame in the Novice Hurdle over 2m 3f. The selection won a 3m point in his native Ireland on heavy ground and he might be able to cope with conditions better than Spider’s Bite and Duke Debarry in what promises to be an informative contest.
Handsome Sam (1.00) will be a very big price in the 2m 4f Novices’ Handicap Chase having shown little at on his reappearance, but he had some decent form going right-handed for Alan King and he has been bought for the owner’s son amateur Mr Ed Bailey to ride. The point winner Legal Oak is a big danger having shaped with considerable over two miles here last month, and he will make a bold bid from the front.
The valuable Mares’ Handicap Hurdle is a belter and Maria’s Benefit must have every chance of following up her Sandown success despite a 10lbs rise in the weights for Stuart Edmunds but Late Night Lily (1.30) finished third in a decent listed contest at Wetherby last time and she is taken to return to winning ways for Dan Skelton.
I am surprised the handicapper has seen fit to raise Audacious Plan (2.05) by just 5lbs after a fluent Sedgefield success and he can land his hat-trick in the Corrie Cup although there are any number of dangers. Dueling Banjos made a bad mistake at the water jump in the opening contest of Cheltenham’s BetVictor Gold Cup meeting last month and he would have gone very close without that error.
Handsome Sam (1.00)
Late Night Lily (1.30)
Audacious Plan (2.05)