An open View for a third Scottish-trained winner of the Randox Health Grand National
After two decades of blood, sweat and tears on the northern jump race circuit, Kinneston-based trainer Nick Alexander now has a golden chance in a race which has always been a big part of his life… but he’s trying not to think about it too much.
In just over a weeks’ time, his stable star, the nine-year-old Lake View Lad, will be lining up against 39 rivals bidding to land just that small prize of the 2019 Randox Health Grand National.
We last saw the son of Oscar at The Festival™, presented by Magners finishing a close three-and-a-quarter lengths third behind Beware The Bear in the Ultima Handicap Chase. Under his regular rider Henry Brooke, who himself has experienced success over the Grand National fences, it was no wonder that his trainer rated it as his best performance yet, given he carried 11st 12lbs.
“He went up 8lbs for winning the Rowland Meyrick (at Wetherby), so I wasn’t sure whether he would still be competitive off 155 in a race as deep as that, so I was thrilled to bits with him,” said Alexander.
Should he progress even further from that run as his trainer predicts, and granted a trouble-free passage, all looks set for a big run on April 6th.
“First of all, I wouldn’t mind some rain that would certainly help his chances. Secondly, I just hope he gets luck in running so he can show what he can do… but that’s obviously in the hands of the gods,” Alexander continued.
“So much can go wrong, you can’t allow yourself to think too much about it because otherwise it’s bound to go wrong.”
Ever since the team picked up Lake View Lad at the Cheltenham May Sale in 2015, it’s been a steady rise up the handicap, capped off in December last year with a win in the BetVictor Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle and victory in the racingtv.com Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby.
A few months before that success, his owner Alistair Cochrane had to sell him on. Sir Trevor Hemmings, one of the most successful owners of the Grand National having won it three times, stepped in to purchase the grey described by his trainer as ‘an active horse without being silly’.
Hemmings will not just have Lake View Lad but also the Sue Smith-trained Vintage Clouds, who was just ahead of the Kinneston charge at Cheltenham earlier this month.
This high-profile involvement at the yard means Lake View Lad becomes the renowned owner’s first horse to be trained in Scotland, something which Alexander is particularly proud of.
Between now and the race, Alexander says he will keep his schedule fairly simple, making routine health and vet checks to make sure nothing is niggling him and making sure he’s reshod this week, as opposed to closer to the race next week. The Alexanders don’t leave much to chance.
“The physio does most of the horses once a month, he’s done Lake View Lad about twice a week, so there is a little bit of a tweak just to get the finest details right.”
Even ignoring his mission ahead, Lake View Lad has contributed a large amount to the yard’s prize-money pool for this season, which is their highest to date at just over £280,000. For a stable moving in the right direction all the time, it will be a day that could shape an even brighter future.
“We’ve tried to upgrade the quality of horses in the yard and the level that we are racing over the last few years and this is the culmination of that,” added Alexander.
“It’s fantastic for the staff they deserve to have runners at the top level. If we have one you never know we might get another.”