The Tim Radford-owned Mister Whitaker could well be making his way to Aintree next April for a pop at the Grand National according to his connections.
Winner of the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in 2018, Mister Whitaker has always looked like a decent stayer in the making and may well progress into a nice National type. The seven-year-old won at Cheltenham again last April, taking a decent Grade two Chase and he could well kick off his season this year with an entry in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.
Jack Channon, assistant trainer to his father Mick, said: “He started off the season in great form, then he didn’t run badly at Ascot and I thought he was flying going into the Cheltenham Festival but he just got stuck in behind and never jumped a fence or travelled that day.
“It was good to go see him do the business in a Grade Two back there and while it might not have been championship strength, he did it nicely.
“I think this horse might be more of a three-miler and he may get a Ladbrokes Trophy (Hennessey) entry but we will probably look at the Peterborough Chase to start off with.”
If things go well this season the Grand National may well be an option for the five-time career winner.
Channon added: “I felt last season he was a three-miler and I think he will develop into one this season.
“Tim (Radford) is keen to give him an entry in the Grand National but that is a long way off and we will keep our options open.”
Another one for Arthur?
One For Arthur, the 2017 Grand National hero, made his seasonal reappearance at Kelso at the weekend, finishing fourth in the Paxtons Exclusively Kverneland Chase to Mysteree.
It was a fairly pleasing performance from the ten-year-old, who was held up in the rear before keeping on at one pace in the closing stages, and he most certainly will come on for the run. Since he tasted success in the 2017 National, One For Arthur had been plagued by injury and bad luck, but he heroically returned to Aintree last April and finished sixth to Tiger Roll.
Speaking last week about his trials and tribulations and the lead up to his last National run, his trainer Lucinda Russell said: “I was proud of him, and also of my team who got him ready for the race. If we had managed to get an extra run under his belt he may have finished closer.”
One For Arthur has come back from his summer break in fine fettle. “He seems really well at the moment,” Russell said. “He came back in early. He’s happy and is moving well. I think he has enjoyed his two light seasons since winning the National!
“All being well, his route to Aintree next spring will be Kelso, then the Becher and something after Christmas. That’s the plan.”
A beaming Russell told journalists after his Kelso fourth: Russell said: “We are delighted with that as he was a bit rusty and jumping is his forte. All being well the plan now is to go for the Becher Chase at Aintree in December.”
It’s a Mysteree!
Kverneland Chase winner Mysteree may also have his sights set on the Aintree showpiece now after his recent Kelso triumph.
With One For Arthur in opposition, along with the likes Vintage Clouds, Dandy Dan and Blue Flight it was no mean feat for the eleven-year-old to take all of their scalps, and in convincing fashion too.
His trainer, Michael Scudamore said: “The dream has always been to try to get in the Grand National and what is he going to do there? Go up 7lb or 8lb and that puts him on 140, so we have still got to find a few pounds from somewhere.
You would have to think about a Becher Chase and that would be Plan A, all being well, and we’ll see from there.”