Sunday, 8 March, 2020 – With the £1-million Randox Health Grand National now just under four weeks’ away, several contenders for the world’s greatest and most valuable chase are set to put their Aintree credentials on the line at The Festival™ presented by Magners, which takes place at Cheltenham from Tuesday, 10 March to Friday, 13 March.
On Wednesday, 11 March the amazing Tiger Roll (Gordon Elliott IRE) is set to run in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase once again. For the past two years, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned 10-year-old has landed the Cheltenham contest before going on to win at Aintree.
Tiger Roll shaped very promisingly on his return to action when fifth in the G2 Boyne Hurdle at Navan on 16 February and is the 11/2 clear favourite for the Randox Health Grand National with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival. Tiger Roll is bidding to emulate the great Red Rum (successful in 1973, 1974 and 1977) with a third Grand National success. If successful on 4 April, Tiger Roll would also create history by becoming the first horse to win the great race in three consecutive years.
The Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase is also a potential target for Pleasant Company (Willie Mullins IRE), the fast-finishing head runner-up to Tiger Roll at Aintree in 2018. Pleasant Company also hold entries in the G3 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase on Thursday and the G3 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase on Friday.
Tuesday’s card at Cheltenham includes the G3 Ultima Handicap Chase over three miles and a furlong. The last horse to win both races in the same season was Seagram in 1991, with this year’s declared runners featuring Randox Health Grand National entries Vintage Clouds (Sue Smith), Kildisart (Ben Pauling), Atalanta Alblaze (Henry Daly), Activial (Tom George), Cogry (Nigel Twiston-Davies), Townshend (Nigel Twiston-Davies) and Soupy Soups (Neil Mulholland).
Another Randox Health Grand National entry is Lord du Mesnil (Richard Hobson), who lines up at Cheltenham on Tuesdy in the G2 National Hunt Chase. The seven-year-old has won two of his latest three starts at Haydock Park, landing the Betway Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase and The Last Fling Handicap Chase in December before going to take second in the G3 Unibet Grand National Trial Handicap Chase on 15 February
Both Don’t Push It (2010) and Pineau de Re (2014) contested Thursday’s Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle before going on to Grand National success. The Storyteller (Gordon Elliott IRE) and Dingo Dollar (Alan King) are currently entered in both contests.
Thursday’s final race at Cheltenham is the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase. You have to go back to Nicolaus Silver in 1961 for the last horse to win this contest before going on to success at Aintree, although in more recent years Ballabriggs was successful in 2010 before going on to Grand National success a year later.
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase contender Le Breuil (Ben Pauling) is already a winner at The Festival, having taken the G2 National Hunt Chase in 2019. The eight-year-old had a first taste of the Grand National fences when seventh, beaten 20 lengths, behind Walk In The Mill (Robert Walford) in the G3 Randox Health Becher Chase in December and shaped well on his last appearance when fifth behind fellow Aintree aspirant Kimberlite Candy (Tom Lacey) in Warwick’s G3 McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase on 11 January.
Gloucestershire-based Ben Pauling said: “Le Breuil is fine and heads for the Kim Muir.
“He ran well at Warwick and made up plenty of ground in the home straight.
“Jamie Codd is going to ride him, and it would be great if he could go back there and run another big race on Thursday.
“Obviously, the Randox Health Grand National is the target after this, but he needs a prep race and so all being well, he will run at Cheltenham."
La Breuil is a 20/1 chance with Betway for the Randox Health Grand National.
Only the great Golden Miller (1934) was successful in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same season. Among the remaining entries for Friday’s Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup who are also entered for the Randox Health Grand National are Bristol de Mai, trained by dual Grand National-winning handler Nigel Twiston-Davies, and Elegant Escape (Colin Tizzard), winner of the Welsh National in 2018.
The next acceptance stage for the Randox Health Grand National is on Tuesday, 17 March, details of which will be revealed on Wednesday, 18 March.