Monday, 18 February 2013

Leading Grand National contenders on trial Saturday

Its only 3 weeks until Cheltenham and the anticipation will soon reach fever pitch and several possibly Cheltenham contenders will be in action this Saturday with high class top fixtures at Kempton and Fairyhouse but the pick of this weekends action will most likely have more of a bearing on the Grand National with several of Ireland's leading Aintree contenders entered in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse headed by the Willie Mullins duo Prince De Beauchene who is also still engaged in The Cheltenham Gold Cup and On His Own who Ireland's champion trainer believes are better horse's than his 2005 Grand National winner and 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup runner up Hedgehunter. Oscar Time runner up in the 2011 Grand National and on the comeback trail after missing last years race is entered alongside Seabass who gave Katie Walsh the ride of her life when finishing 3rd in last years National and on the evidence of his excellent comeback run over hurdles he may well be a improved horse this year and victory here would most likely see him sent off favourite come the big day on April 6th. Quito De La Roque entered in both the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup is another fascinating contender this grade 2 contest.

Kempton stage the Racing Plus Chase formally known as The Racing Post and who could forget Desert Orchid's memorable win in this back in 1990 when despite the train stopping weight of 12-3 on his back he gave over 2 stone to a high class field to record win by a unchallenged 8 lengths. There will be nothing of Dessie's ability running on Saturday but the race has still attracted several high class entries and champion trainer Paul Nicholls has three possible runners here headed by the duel grade 1 winning chaser What A Friend who is set to make his seasonal debut here and could be joined by stablemates Rolling Aces and Join Together who was last saw at Aintree when a fast finishing 2nd in The Becher Chase over the big fences at Aintree. The improving Wyck Hill who got the better of Gold Cup contender Katenko at Ascot on his last start in December is another fascinating entry and a win here could see him head towards to top of the market for the Grand National and even set him up for a crack at The Cheltenham Gold Cup next month. Roberto Goldback Nicky Henderson's only National entry is a possible runner here and will appreciate the better ground that looks likely at Kempton on Saturday while Nacarat could bid for a third win in this after victory's in this in 2009 and 2012 and would be a very popular winner but at the age of 12 he has his work cut out here.

The marathon 4m1f Eider Chase is also staged on Saturday at Newcastle and is always one of the most stamina sapping races of the season so it would be wise to avoid backing any horses with the slightest stamina doubt. Comply Or Die took this in 2008 before his victory in the Grand National less than 2 months later and although the race is unlikely to have mush of a bearing on this years National a competitive looking field has been assembled at the 5 day stage and leading Irish trainer Gordon Elliott has entered his recent Thyestes Chase runner up Tarqunius and he could be just the type for this gruelling contest.

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