Cheltenham is over with, but the National Hunt season now turns its head to Liverpool for the Aintree Grand National next month. Maybe your favourite horse didn’t do him/herself justice in the Cotswolds, but that’s been the case plenty of times, and with the richest horse-race in Britain just around the corner, there’s every chance they’ll get their chance to have their day in the sun yet.
So which runners are likely to improve on their Prestbury Park showings for a four-mile spin on Merseyside?
The Last Samuri
After a respectable Cross Country third behind the hero that is Tiger Roll, there’s every chance that Kim Bailey’s sturdy son of Flemensfirth just seemed a tad outpaced over 30 furlongs.
The ten-year-old gelding travelled well into the race, and had it been a couple of furlongs longer, there’s every chance he could have found more. He was the SP favourite for a reason and that’s because of his staying power.
Keith Donoghue gave the winner an incredible ride and credit is due, but you shouldn’t giving up hope on this wily veteran over the gruelling 34 furlongs.
Total Recall took a tumble in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and given that virtually nobody in behind was on the bridle because of the sheer brilliance of both Might Bite and Native River, there’s every chance they haven’t given too much.
The mark he’ll receive will likely be hefty, but he has the class to settle in a race with so many runners and can find off the bridle as runners fall away in behind.
Willie Mullins has only won the race once before – Hedgehunter in 2005 – but you’d be foolish to write him off here.
Cause of Causes
The apple of JP McManus’ eye, Cause of Causes pulled up in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham after he was hampered by a loose horse.
Given that he was being waited with, it was likely that the multiple Festival winner hadn’t been asked to do a tap and the 100/30 second favourite was ready to spark into life before Bless The Wings cut across his path and took him out of rhythm.
It appears like it was nothing serious that caused Jamie Codd to pull him up, and if that’s the case, his stamina will be a welcome asset around Liverpool.
Vicente was an ambitious entry in the Ultima as he was always likely to need further. Paul Nicholls’ charge’s last two wins have come over the extended four miles and was always likely to struggle for toe in a three-mile chase.
However, the Dom Alco gelding went off at 16/1 for last year’s Grand National and was widely fancied to at least place. Fast-forward eleven months and his mark has gotten slightly higher. Presuming he gets dropped a couple of pounds for his last two runs, there’s no reason to suggest he won’t be in the thick of it next month.