The 2019 Grand National Trial takes place at Haydock on Saturday (February 17) and it features several horses that may run in the Grand National in April.
The supporting card also features the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle, a race which another Grand National possible Blaklion is using as a prep run for the big one. We’ve free tips for both those races as well as the Olbg.com Mares’ Hurdle and the grade two Rendlesham Hurdle.
Olbg.com Mares’ Hurdle (1.25)
Whether you choose to have a bet or not, this is a mares’ race to take an interest in because the field contains Sensulano who was beaten 48-lengths by Laurina last time. She could give that mare’s Champion Hurdle aspiration a boost if winning here but she does have to find a few pounds to trouble the principles.
That’s why it could be worth taking a chance that Jester Jet can get her head in front for the first time this season. She finished in front of If You Say Run at Ascot last time on the same terms and she could be better suited to dropping back in distance judged on her run behind Maria’s Benefit at Bangor earlier in the season.
Olbg.com Mares’ Hurdle Free Tip:
Jester Jet @ 3.75 Betfair, PaddyPower, SkyBet, Betway
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Rendlesham Hurdle (1.55)
Last year’s winner Donna’s Diamond reverts to hurdles to try and defend his crown after embarking on a chasing career this season. But, despite taking the notable scalps of Agrapart and Zarkandar last year, his task looks even harder this year with a 6lb penalty to carry and better ground not really playing to his strengths.
He also takes on some useful rivals in the shape of course winners Clyne and Kilcooley, but it will be some training performance if Nicky Richards can get the latter to win after over a thousand days of the track.
Another horse that returns from a lengthy lay-off is Yanworth, who hasn’t been seen since finishing sixth in last year’s Stayers’ Hurdle. A repeat of that form would be enough here and, as he may not have to be at his best to win this, he looks worth chancing despite the absence.
Rendlesham Hurdle Free Tip:
Yanworth @ 2.10 BetVictor, Bet365, Ladbrokes
Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (2.55)
After running Blaklion just twice so far this season, Nigel Twiston-Davies has probably achieved what he set out to do by getting his 10-year-old into the Grand National on a mark of 156, which is 5lb lower than last year. In doing so, the handicapper has also seen fit to drop Blaklion’s hurdle mark by 5lb to 147.
Admittedly, he didn’t run very well over hurdles last time, but he’s expected to put up an improved performance here back at a course where he’s won a bumper and twice finished second in the Grand National Trial from just three runs. He does have to give weight away all-round but is 6lb lower than when winning the Becher Chase off a big-weight.
Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Free Tip:
Blaklion (Each-Way) @ 7.50 PaddyPower, SkyBet, Unibet
(all paying 4 places)
William Hill Grand National Trial Handicap Chase (3.35)
William Hill has taken over sponsorship of Haydock’s Grand National Trial this year and they’ve been rewarded with a competitive field who will all be trying to win the first prize of over £56,000.
It’s easy to make a case for quite a few of the runners including several that have proven course and distance form here at Haydock. That includes the last three horses to win, with last year’s winner Yala Enki rated eight pounds higher this year but with a useful 7lb claimer on board.
But it’s the 2017 and 2016 winners that look more interesting. Vieux Lion Rouge is back on the same mark of 146 that he defied in 2017 and, though he flopped in the Welsh National on his last run, he suggested when finishing second in the Becher Chase that he could have another big handicap win in him this season.
The 2016 winner Bishops Road looks even better handicapped on a mark of 137, especially as the useful Mitchell Bastyan is claiming 5lb. Bishops Road isn’t the most consistent sort but has won once and placed twice from three starts at Haydock, including when second off top-weight earlier in the season. He also won the 2016 renewal off a mark of 144 and has been third here off 149. A return to Haydock will, hopefully, see him come back to form, and each-way plays on him and Vieux Lion Rouge look value bets.
William Hill Grand National Trial Handicap Chase Free Tips:
Vieux Lion Rouge (Each-Way) @ 13.00 BetVictor, Boylesports
Bishops Road (Each-Way) @ 34.00 Betfair SB, PaddyPower, WilliamHill
(all above paying 5 places)