Haydock Park stages the £100,000 G3 Betfred Grand National Trial this Saturday, February 17, with the extended three and a half-mile handicap chase set to provide pointers to the £1-million Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, April 14.
A field of nine runners was announced today for the Betfred Grand National Trial, with seven of them also holding an entry in the Aintree spectacular.
Blaklion (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies, 11st 12lb, 5/2 favourite with Betfred) is the current ante-post favourite for the Randox Health Grand National, in which he finished fourth last season.
The nine-year-old is already a winner at Aintree this season, having captured the Randox Health Becher Chase over the Grand National fences on December 9. Blaklion was runner-up to Vieux Lion Rouge in the 2017 Betfred Grand National Trial.
The Philip Hobbs-trained Three Faces West (Tom O’Brien, 10st 9lb, 6/1) is also entered in the Randox Health Grand National and has won three of his eight races over fences, as well as being second twice and third once.
The lightly-raced 10-year-old recorded successive victories towards the backend of 2016 at Haydock Park and Newbury respectively and returned to action after an 11-month layoff when trying to make all before finishing third to Perfect Candidate at Cheltenham on November 17 in a G3 handicap chase over nearly three and a half miles.
A faller at the 12th when in lead in the Betfred Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase over two miles and seven furlongs at Haydock Park in December, the Dr Massini gelding has registered two victories from four starts at the track, winning a novices’ hurdle in 2015 and a three-mile handicap chase the following year.
Jason Maguire, racing manager for owners Paul and Clare Rooney, said today: “Three Faces West is in good form at home (Somerset) and Philip Hobbs and his team seem very happy with him.
“We’re looking forward to running him at Haydock Park on Saturday. He’s got excellent course form, having won here twice before, so we’re optimistic of a good run.
“He’s been fine since his fall at Haydock the last day [December 23] and conditions and this track seem to suit.
“He’s won on soft and heavy ground before so the ground won’t be too much of a worry for him and we’re hopeful over this distance. Conditions look like they’ll be very testing.
“He is entered in the Randox Health Grand National and running at Aintree is definitely something we are considering.
“He would probably get in off his weight of 10st 3lb which looks fair. We’ll see how he goes on Saturday, but Aintree is definitely in our minds.
“He’s only had 13 runs in his life and he’s had a couple of problems, but he’s a nice horse and we’re happy with him going into Saturday’s race.”
Other declared runners for the Betfred Grand National Trial include the Colin Tizzard-trained The Dutchman (Danny Cook, 10st 13lb, 4/1), an impressive 13-length winner of the G2 Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock Park on January 20 and Wild West Wind (Tom George, Adrian Heskin, 10st 9lb, 6/1), successful at Chepstow in December before falling in the Welsh National at Chepstow on January 6. Both horses are also entered in the Randox Health Grand National.
Silsol (Paul Nicholls, Noel Fehily, 10st 9lb, 14/1), Mysteree (Michael Scudamore, Robert Dunne, 10st 3lb, 10/1) and Sir Mangan (Dan Skelton, Henry Brooke, 10st 3lb, 16/1), are the three other runners in Saturday’s Betfred Grand National Trial who also hold entries in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on April 14.
The field for Saturday’s extended three and a half-mile handicap chase is completed by Daklondike (David Pipe, Tom Scudamore, 10st 5lb, 7/1) unbeaten on his last two starts at Wincanton and Newbury and Yala Enki (Venetia Williams/Charlie Deutsch, 10st 11lb, 14/1), fourth to The Dutchman in the Peter Marsh Chase in January.
Betfred Grand National Trial, Betfred bet: 5/2 Blaklion; 4/1 The Dutchman; 6/1 Wild West Wind, Three Faces West; 7/1 Daklondike; 10/1 Mysteree; 14/1 Silsol, Yala Enki; 16/1 Sir Mangan
EW: 1/4 1, 2, 3
Haydock Park's seven-race card on Saturday runs from 1.30pm through to 5.00pm.
The main supporting action comes from two G2 contests - the £40,000 Betfred Rendlesham Hurdle (2.05pm, 14 entries) over two miles and seven furlongs, and the £30,000 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (4.25pm, 13 entries) over the same distance.
Declared runners for the rest of the card at Haydock Park on Saturday will be known shortly after 10.00am tomorrow, Friday, February 16.
About the Betfred Grand National Trial
Staged over an extended three and a half miles, the Betfred Grand National Trial attracts some of the leading staying chasers and is an ideal prep race for the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree.
Red Rum ran at Haydock before every one of his five Grand Nationals, of which he won three (1973, 1974 and 1977) and came second in the other two (1975 and 1976). Red Rum won the Grand National Trial in 1975 prior to chasing home L'Escargot at Aintree in 1975.
Randox Health Grand National winners to have previously run in the Betfred Grand National Trial (since 1991):
YEAR HORSE POSITION AT HAYDOCK PARK
1992 Party Politics 5th
1998 Earth Summit 5th
2009 Mon Mome 7th
2012 Neptune Collonges 2nd
No horse has yet won both the Betfred Grand National Trial and Randox Health Grand National in the same season. Suny Bay won at Haydock Park in 1997 prior to finishing second at Aintree.
Four Randox Health Grand National winners have also won the Betfred Grand National Trial but not in the same season.
HORSE YEAR OF HAYDOCK WIN YEAR OF AINTREE WIN
Freebooter 1949 1950
Sundew 1956 1957
Red Rum 1975 1973, 1974, 1977
Party Politics 1993 1992
The going at Haydock Park is currently:
Chases and Hurdles will run on separate bends at both ends of the course.
There was 14 millimetres of rain over the weekend.
Monday was dry, with four millimetres of rain on Tuesday and three millimetres on Wednesday.
Around three millimetres of rain is forecast for today in the form of showers.
After today, conditions are forecast to be largely dry, with temperatures above zero.