Williams goes for more Haydock Park success with Red Infantry in Saturday’s William Hill Grand National Trial
Haydock Park stages a tremendous eight-race card on this Saturday, February 16, with the £100,000 G3 William Hill Grand National Trial (3.35pm, 16 runners) taking centre stage.The William Hill Grand National Trial, a handicap chase over an extended three and a half miles, attracts some of the leading staying chasers and is an ideal prep race for the £1-million Randox Health Grand National at Aintree.
The 16 declared runners for Saturday, the highest number of runners for the race since 16 ran in the 2009 renewal, include nine who also hold entries in the Aintree spectacular on April 6.
Heading Saturday’s weights on 11st 12lb is Yala Enki (Venetia Williams/Hugh Nugent (7), 8/1 with William Hill), who landed the 2018 renewal of the William Hill Grand National Trial by 54 lengths on heavy going.
The nine-year-old has made two appearances so far this season, winning at Bangor in November before taking third in the G3 Welsh Grand National at Chepstow on December 27.
The last horse to win back-to-back renewals of the William Hill Grand National Trial was Silver By Nature in 2010 and 2011.
Red Infantry (Ian Williams/Tom O’Brien, 10st 12lb, 14/1) was successful over the course and distance in the Betfair Each Way Edge Handicap Chase in November before finishing a staying-on fifth back at Haydock Park over three furlongs shorter in the G2 Peter Marsh Chase on January 19, when he was beaten six lengths.
In between his two fine efforts at Haydock Park, the nine-year-old was the length runner-up in the valuable Betfair London National at Sandown Park in December.
Williams, who is based near Alvechurch, Worcestershire, said today: “Red Infantry is in good form at home and the plan is to run in Saturday’s William Hill Grand National Trial at Haydock Park
“Red Infantry’s long-term target is the Randox Health Grand National and we will learn more about him on Saturday.
"Regarding Aintree, he has been allotted 9st 12lb and is currently number 78 on the list for the race. The horse weighted at number 73 got into the race last year, so fingers crossed we get a run.
“He is progressing nicely, jumps well and we are looking forward to running at Haydock."
Runner-up in the Welsh Grand National was Ramses De Teillee (David Pipe/David Noonan, 11st 5lb, 13/2 favourite with William Hill).
Successful at Chepstow earlier in season, the progressive seven-year-old is one of two starters for Somerset-based trained David Pipe along with 10-year-old Vieux Lion Rouge (Tom Scudamore, 11st 2lb, 14/1) who won the William Grand National Trial in 2017 and has participated in the last three Randox Health Grand Nationals, completing the course each time.
Vieux Lion Rouge finished second in the G3 Becher Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences at Aintree on December 8 (a race he won in 2016), but was pulled-up last time out in the Welsh Grand National.
Another trainer doubly-represented is Colin Tizzard, who has Royal Vacation (Paddy Brennan, 11st 8lb, 11/1) and Robinsfirth (Sean Bowen, 11st 4lb, 8/1).
Royal Vacation returned to winning ways last time out when winning the Weatherbys Portman Cup Chase at Taunton on January 19 while Robinsfirth made an eye-catching reappearance when runner-up to Wakanda (Sue Smith/Danny Cook, 11st 6lb, 8/1) in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock Park on January 19.
Impulsive Star (Neil Mulholland/Mr Sam Waley-Cohen (3), 10st 9lb, 9/1) already has a valuable G3 win under his belt this season, having taken the McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase over three miles and five furlongs at Warwick on January 12.
The nine-year-old is joined by stable companion Carole’s Destrier (Aidan Coleman, 10st 8lb, 14/1), who was fourth in the Warwick contest, having previously captured the Mandarin Handicap Chase at Newbury in December.
Gloucestershire-based Nigel Twiston-Davies, successful in the 2001 William Hill Grand National Trial with Frantic Tan, also two runners in Ballyoptic (Tom Bellamy, 11st 11lb, 16/1), runner-up in the 2018 G3 Scottish Grand National and sixth in the Welsh Grand National last time out, and Ballyarthur (Jamie Bargary, 10st 10lb, 16/1), who was beaten just over four lengths when fourth in the Peter Marsh Chase.
Other leading contenders include The Two Amigos (Nicky Martin/Matt Griffiths, 10st 12lb, 11/1) who steps up in class after a pair of impressive victories at Exeter and Plumpton.
There is one Irish-trained challenger in Ah Littleluck (Tom Gibney/David Mullins, 10st 5lb, 18/1), an easy winner over three miles in a Navan chase last month.
Completing Saturday’s line-up are 2015 William Hill Grand National Trial hero Bishops Road (Kerry Lee/Mitchell Bastyan (5), 10st 7lb, 20/1), Pobbles Bay (Evan Williams/Leighton Aspell, 10st 1lb, 22/1) and Chef d’Oeuvre (Sam England/Jonathan England, 10st, 16/1).
The declared runners for the William Hill Grand National who also hold Randox Health Grand National entries are: Yala Enki, Ballyoptic, Royal Vacation, Ramses De Teillee, Vieux Lion Rouge, Red Infantry, Ballyarthur, Impulsive Star and Carole’s Destrier.
William Hill Grand National Trial, William Hill bet:
13/2 Ramses de Teillee, 8/1 Wakanda, Yala Enki, Robinsfirth, 9/1 Impulsive Star, 11/1 Royal Vacation, The Two Amigos, 14/1 Carole's Destrier, Red Infantry, Vieux Lion Rouge, 16/1 Ballyarthur, Chef d'Oeuvre, Ballyoptic, 18/1 Ah Littleluck, 20/1 Bishops Road, 22/1 Pobbles Bay
1/4 Odds Place 1, 2, 3, 4
Prices for the William Hill Grand National Trial & Randox Health Grand National double: 125/1 Ramses De Teillee, 150/1 Impulsive Star, 150/1 Yala Enki, 200/1 Ballyoptic, 200/1 Royal Vacation, 200/1 Vieux Lion Rouge, 250/1 Ballyarthur, 250/1 Carole’s Destrier
Declared runners for the other seven races at Haydock Park on Saturday will be known shortly after 10.00am tomorrow.
The going at Haydock Park is currently:
Chase Course: Good to Soft, Soft in places
Hurdle Course: Good to Soft
It has been dry since last week, with conditions expected to remain dry and mild.