The eagerly awaited Grand National entries were published last week with 105 entries. Since then a whole raft of news stories have come to the fore over the last few days, so let’s sift our way through them all.
Total Respect For Total Recall
The recent Thyestes Handicap Chase victor, Total Recall, may well be back in the Willie Mullins melting pot for a second crack at the Grand National in 2020.
In 2018 he was pulled up just before the penultimate fence after going off as the 7/1 favourite but was never at home over the fences.
The eleven-year-old did hold an entry at Leopardstown for February 2nd but swerved it. He still has the option at Punchestown for February 9th, so the picture will become much clearer if he runs there.
The useful staying chaser Ramses De Teillee is still on track for another tilt at the Grand National after sluicing up at Doncaster over hurdles at the weekend.
His trainer, David Pipe said after the race: “He’s gone and won a Grade Two novice hurdle and at the beginning of the season all roads led to Aintree, now he’s picked up two novice hurdles on the way.”
The striking grey is likely to have two further runs at Haydock and the Cheltenham Festival before heading back to Merseyside in April.
Vintage Clouds Back In
In a complete u-turn from what was said straight after Vintage Cloud’s victory in the Peter Marsh Chase, the Sue Smith stable released the following statement via their Twitter account on Tuesday afternoon:
“After careful consideration we have decided to enter Vintage Clouds for the Grand National. Having discussed it at length with Mr Hemmings, we decided, that having won so well in the Peter Marsh, it was worth keeping our options open until nearer the time, despite saying in the aftermath that he would not go back to Aintree.”
A first fence faller in last year’s National, Vintage Clouds appeared to detest every single moment of his slightly longer spin over the unique Aintree fences in December’s Becher Chase, and called it day after scalping the top off The Chair.
We are not privy to what recent discussions have taken place between Vintage Cloud’s owner, Trevor Hemmings and Sue Smith, but it does appear to be a strange decision given that Hemmings will also be represented in the race anyway by the Nick Alexander-trained, Lake View Lad.
It is entirely plausible however that the grey is being entered in the race in order to keep Lake View Lad’s weight down come handicapping time?
Lucinda Russell has indicated that One for Arthur, the 2017 National winner, will run in either the Edinburgh Gin Chase at Kelso on February 13th or in Haydock’s Grand National on the 15th.
One For Arthur ran on to be sixth behind dual winner Tiger Roll in last year’s Grand National and is certainly a live contender once again this year.
Gunning For Glory
Apparently Nicky Henderson is giving some serious consideration to a Grand National bid for Ok Corral after he was victorious in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.
The lightly raced ten-year-old has very little chasing experience but his connections believe he has all the class that is required to win such an esteemed marathon test.
Henderson trained the runners-up in the 1979 and 1987 Nationals, but so far the number one spot still eludes him. He also has chances with Beware The Bear, Valtor and Dragon D’Estruval.
More Hurdling Preps
The Nick Alexander-trained Lake View Lad stepped up his Aintree preparations last Monday when finishing an encouraging third in a hurdle race at Kelso.
Meanwhile, the two-time Becher Chase winner Walk In The Mill, ran in the Chepstow Trade Centre Novices’ Hurdle on Friday in his build-up to Aintree. He ran a nice race, finishing second, just over four lengths behind Blackjack Kentucky.
His trainer Robert Walford said: “He has done plenty of work, but this is not the be-all and end-all. He will probably just have this run (before Aintree), and then we will take him for a racecourse gallop somewhere. It is pretty much the same as last season.”