Despite a field of 16 standing their ground at the five-day declaration stage for Saturday’s Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock it is no surprise that all bookmakers are only offering place terms of a quarter the odds the first three as it is unlikely that any more than a dozen horses will compete for the £75k contest at the weekend.
With lively outsider Glenquest due to run at Down Royal this afternoon and several others engaged in Newcastle’s Eider Chase the following Saturday the 8-1 currently available with Paddy Power about Monbeg Dude looks excellent each-way value about a horse who has been targeted at this race for some time and boasts the best form on offer.
Fourth in both Newbury’s Hennessy Gold Cup and Chepstow’s Coral Welsh National this season, the ten-year-old has been dropped 2lb by the handicapper giving the son of Witness Box a great chance of winning his first race since landing a Grade 3 Cheltenham handicap in December 2013 before attempting to improve on his creditable seventh place in last year’s Crabbies Grand National in two month’s time.
Third in this race two year’s ago on his only visit to the Lancashire track the Michael Scudamore-trained gelding will appreciate the likely better ground this time and providing he runs up to something like his best form should take plenty of beating. Top weight Benvolio is entitled to the utmost respect after his narrow Welsh National defeat while at a general 20-1 thorough stayer Alpha Victor is capable of causing an upset if running here rather than at Newcastle next weekend.