The Philip Hobbs trained Rock The Kasbah won a staying handicap very nicely at Cheltenham last weekend. The trainer now believes that he can develop into a Grand National horse this season. Rock The Kasbah has long since looked to be a good staying chaser. With attentions now turned to the National there’s plenty of work ahead to get him spot on for the big day.

His victory last Saturday came by a margin of just over a length. But it was more to do with the manner of that win, and the field he was in front of that was more impressive. This was a good staying chase. Plenty of seasoned professionals ran including a few that looked as though they could be ahead of their handicap mark. He travelled very nicely in the race, always keeping a prominent position. That is the kind of thing you want to see from a horse who is potentially going to turn up at Aintree in April.

He went into the lead with two fences to go and from that point the race looked to be in hand. He isn’t a quick horse who goes clear of his rivals. However, he stays all day long and he loved the uphill finish. That in itself requires a huge amount of stamina. It would have taken a very tough horse to get past him on Saturday. He never looked in any real danger.

The way the entire race panned out at Cheltenham gave us positive signs about him running in the 2019 National. First of all, he certainly has the class to run in the race. This was a good field and he had the better of his competitors. He was already rated 147 going into the Cheltenham race and should find himself up to the low 150s after the win.

Two characteristics are needed for a horse to perform well at Aintree. First is the ability to cruise at a high speed in the race. The second is toughness and Rock The Kasbah showed both at Cheltenham. It was impressive watching him move through the race. You can’t afford to be off the bridle for too long at Aintree and he travelled beautifully on it for jockey Richard Johnson. He also showed his toughness. Once he hit the front there was little doubt about him winning the race.

In full control and staying all day, the further they went the better he looked. There was nothing going to pass him up the hill, and he will need to show the same coming up the long run in at Aintree.

To give him a taste of what is to come later in the season, Rock the Kasbah will now be aiming for the Becher Chase at Aintree next month. It will be a great test as it is run over the same big Grand National fences. That will be a vital learning experience for him on the road to the big one next April.