The Grand National Trial (Saturday, Haydock 3.15) was first run in 1947 and, as its name implies it’s seen as a trial for the Grand National – though it is very much a race targeted in its own right by many trainers.
The statistics for the last 10-runnings don’t really make a solid case for any particular type of horse, with winners aged 7 to 11, weights carried to victory ranging from 10-0 to 11-12, ratings varying from 124 to 149, and SPs varying from 4/1 to 18/1.
However, nine winners had won over 3-miles or further, whilst 8 winners had already won that season. Horses that run up with the pace also have an excellent record.
14-runners are set to go to post.
Last season’s RSA Chase winner has already been well-supported in the ante-post markets for this race and the Grand National, and his run-style suggests the step-up in trip is exactly what he wants. Rated higher than ideal on 152, but two top-weights have won this in the last 10-years.
Won handicaps off marks ranging from 139 to 151 last season, and is now back down to 150. Also won his only previous start at Haydock, and his second at Wetherby last-time suggested he’s another who could relish this step-up in trip. Trainer also does well at Haydock, and trained the winner in 2000.
Houblon Des Obeaux
Connections haven’t made the same mistake of winning before the National-weights were published this year, and he could easily step-up on his efforts so far this season, with his third in the Welsh National already marking him down as a worthy candidate.
Came in to his own over 4-miles when winning last year’s Scottish National, and trainer Paul Nicholls is another who looks to have had the Grand National in mind for him all season. Might prefer better ground and a longer trip though, so this might not be his day.
Vieux Lion Rouge
4lb rise for his Becher Chase win was very fair and, as a course winner off just 8lb lower, he must can’t be excluded despite not looking as class as the horses above him in the weights.
Won valuable handicap hurdle here on penultimate start and, though his chase mark is 10lb higher, this test could be ideal for him. Not entered in the Grand National, and this looks like his main target this season.
Gas Line Boy
Seems to save his best for before Christmas each season and, having already been beaten twice in this race previously, it’s hard to see him stepping-up in a classier looking renewal.
Best hurdles performance came at Aintree, so it’s no surprise that connections are aiming him at the Grand National. However, having struggled in the Classic Chase at Warwick last time, he must prove he’s up to this class.
Tour Des Champs
Not many trainers can claim to have improved one of Nigel Twiston-Davies’ cast-offs, but there didn’t seem to be any fluke about his 50/1 victory at Cheltenham. Closely matched with Doctor Harper on that form, but it could be both just aren’t classy enough.
Handicapper hasn’t had time to assess this one properly, so officially well-in here after his Hereford win, and had run well at Warwick previously. Had two really tough races though, and it’s asking a lot for him to produce another run of that calibre so quickly.
Suggested a couple of times that he’s worth a go at a staying trip. However, as he’s not been the best of jumpers so far in his short chasing career, Haydock might not be his ideal course.
Looked to have been targeted at the Peter March Chase by his trainer, but well-held in third there when falling late-on. Possible that the longer trip will bring about some improvement and, though Brian Hughes is a great replacement, Danny Cook has deserted him to ride Wakanda.
Looks sure to be suited by the step-up in trip but, having finished behind Doctor Harper and Tour Des Champs last time, he again may lack a bit of class.
No form to suggest that she’s up to winning this, but a lightweight and a step-up in trip may see her outrun her odds.
Betfred Grand National Trial Summary
Blaklion, Wakanda and Houblon Des Obeaux certainly have the class to defy big-weights. Meanwhile, Blaklion is especially expected to appreciate stepping-up in trip for the first time, and victory for him would be no surprise as top-weights have won 2 of the last 9 renewals. However, the best statistical fit is Kruzhlinin, as he has already won a race this season, making all over 3-miles at Haydock over hurdles.
Betfred Grand National Trial Tip
Kruzhlimin – Each-Way @ 7/1 Bet365, Coral