Belgian actor and martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme often has his name abbreviated to JCVD, and is famous for films such as Universal Soldier, Timecop and Lionheart.
In the latter film, VD (yes, I heard it) plays a character who is forced to enter the underground fighting circuit, in order to raise money for his injured brother’s family.
To my knowledge, Nigel Twiston-Davies (or NTD, as known in racing circles) has never been in a film, but in the shape of Blaklion, he has a horse with grit and determination that Lionheart’s leading man would be proud of.
A tenacious winner of the 2016 RSA Chase at Cheltenham, Blaklion recorded his first victory since in the Becher Chase at Aintree last time, and takes his first step back to Liverpool in Haydock’s Grand National Trial at 3.15pm.
Ridden for the first time over fences by the trainer’s son STD (yep, heard it again), Blaklion looks up against it from a BHA mark of 161, though, and it could be worth taking a chance on Wild West Wind instead. WWW fell in the Welsh National last time, but he had beaten the runner-up in that race, Alfie Spinner, the time before, and gets 17lbs from the favourite here.
Van Damme also starred in The Expendables film series, which features a whole host of on-screen tough guys. Amazingly David Hasselhoff was overlooked, and there will be No Hassle Hoff (14/1) in the Rendlesham Hurdle at 2.05pm, too. The race has cut up to just five runners, and looks to provide Agrapart with an excellent opportunity to follow up his Cleeve Hurdle win at Cheltenham.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, another star of The Expendables, did his best to prevent the end of the world in the Terminator series, but nothing could stop The Worlds End in last season’s Prestige Novices’ Hurdle.
Chef des Obeaux is clear on weight-adjusted ratings for this year’s renewal at 4.25pm and – open to more improvement after just three starts over hurdles – it will likely take another machine to stop him winning.
Call Me Lord is strongly fancied to give champion trainer Nicky Henderson another winner in Wincanton’s Kingwell Hurdle at 2.45pm, while the best bet on the card could be Goodgirlteresa in the opening handicap hurdle at 1.40pm, a race her trainer Neil Mulholland won 12 months ago.
She showed much improved form when second on her handicap debut at the course last time, and should still have more to offer after just two starts for the yard.
The eight-year-old looks worth a wager, so ‘expendable’ income at the ready…
* All odds correct at time of posting.