Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 13:21 10/02/2015
With the weights for the 2015 Crabbie’s Grand National due to be announced next Monday this Saturday’s Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock provides a number of aspiring candidates for the world’s most famous steeplechase to show that they are capable of mixing it in the four and a half mile spectacular on Saturday 11th April.
First run in 1968 over three miles the race distance was increased to it’s current trip of 3m 5f in 1991 and is now sponsored by bookmaker Betfred following many backer’s including Greenalls, Blue Square and the Tote. As the race title suggests this is a significant trial for Aintree although no winner has gone on to victory in the ‘ big one.’
Suny Bay however, won the 1997 renewal before going on to find only Lord Gyllene too good at Aintree the following month a position the grey occupied 12 month’s later when second to Earth Summit. 1992 Grand National winner Party Politics went on the win the Haydock race in 1993 only to compete in the infamous void National of that year as the 7-1 favourite.
Other notable winners include Cool Ground in 1992, who went on to victory in that year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, while another winner of that championship contest, Master Oats in 1995, won this race in 1994 when sponsored by Greenalls and run at Kempton Park due to the Lancashire track failing to beat the weather.
16 Horses remain in contention at the 5-day declaration stage
1.Benvolio – Just 7 starts over fences and best effort latest when short head second in Welsh Grand National on first attempt at marathon trip. Raised 6lb for that run but progressive.
2.Samstown – Thorough stayer who relished the testing conditions to win Peter Marsh Chase on the course last month but now racing off a 9lb higher mark.
3.Monbeg Dude – Winner of 2013 Welsh National and a creditable 7th at Aintree last year. Two excellent efforts to finish fourth in both Hennessy Gold Cup and Welsh National this season and dropped 2lb in the process.
4.Gas Line Boy – struggling when pulled up in Welsh National and still 10lb higher than when winning over the course last November.
5.Trustan Times – Excellent third in last year’s Scottish Grand National and only 1lb higher but has shown little in 2 chase and 2 hurdle starts this season.
6.Super Duty – No show on first start for Ian Williams over hurdles since leaving Donald McCain’s stable. Missed all of 2014 but 1lb lower than when just touched off in 2013 Kim Muir at Cheltenham Festival.
7.Benbens – Improving staying chaser who, after finishing fifth in Welsh National ran Samstown to a neck in Peter Marsh and meets that rival on 4lb better terms.
8.Lie Forrit – Effective over both fences and hurdles. Rated as high as 155 when ninth in 2010 World Hurdle and although unable to match anything like that mark chasing stays really well and made all to win off 7lb lower at Kelso on latest start.
9.Rigadin De Beauchene – 10 length winner of this race 12 month’s ago off 7lb lower mark but pulled up in all three starts since.
10.Broadway Buffalo – Easy winner of the Tommy Whittle over the course last December but untried at farther than 3m 1f and 8lb higher. Disappointing on latest start at Wetherby.
11.Mountainous – Races off the same mark as when winning 2013 Welsh National but little encouragement in four subsequent runs.
12.Alpha Victor – Best run when second in last year’s Midlands Grand National over 4m 1 1/2f. Encouraging run over hurdles recently and 2lb lower than Uttoxeter effort.
13.Ballyoliver – Won over 3m 2f at Carlisle last November but now 4lb higher and disappointed twice since.
14. Glenquest – Creditable third in Welsh Grand National latest, only giving best on the run-in and just 1lb higher. Won 2 from 25 over fences but seemed to improve for step up in trip.
15.Loch Ba – Well beaten third in last year’s race and only 2lb lower. Winner of weak race at Wincanton on Boxing Day but generally disappointing.
16.Harry The Viking – A massive 16lb lower than when pulled up in 2013 Grand National and encouraging recent run for Sandy Thomson when second to Lie Forrit at Kelso. 5lb better off and capable of further improvement.