WITH the Cheltenham Festival over, attention now turns to the Randox Health Grand National on April 6. The next scratchings stage for the great race is this Wednesday when the current entry list of 100 will be whittled down.
The final 2019 Grand National runners will be confirmed on Thursday April 4 but until then the connections of some horses will face an anxious wait to see if they will get into the race.
At Cheltenham and Uttoxeter last week there were several fantastic trials run by several leading Grand National contenders. Here are six of the best of them.
LAKE VIEW LAD: Ran a terrific race to be third in the Ultima Handicap Chase under top weight. He raced handily, jumping well and after being briefly tapped for speed down the hill, he stayed on again in the home straight to be third. He has a lovely racing weight in the Grand National and is guaranteed to get into the field. However, he definitely needs soft ground to show his best form. At Cheltenham it rained hard on Tuesday before racing and the ground was as soft as it was all week. If it comes up soft at Aintree then Lake View Lad would be a serious contender to give Scotland another Grand National success.
VINTAGE CLOUDS: Also in the Ultima, Vintage Clouds was a superb second. He was always up with the pace under Danny Cook and even clattered a couple of fences on the way round, which didn’t help his cause. However, he is currently 61 on the list for Aintree and it will be touch and go whether he gets a run. He needs 21 above him to come out. Fingers crossed for Sue Smith, who has already trained a National winner in Auroras Encore.
BRISTOL DE MAI: A wonderful third in the Gold Cup, there is a strong chance he will be allowed to take his chance in the National by Nigel Twiston-davies, who has already won it twice with Bindaree and Earth Summit. The flat nature of the National course could really suit this fluent jumper, although he would have to carry top weight of 11st 10lb.
TIGER ROLL: The easiest winner of Cheltenham week, Tiger Roll is now as short as 5/1 to win back-to-back Grand Nationals. However, Gordon Elliott and Michael O’Leary have been candid in their view that the horse may not return to Aintree. He is on a 9lb higher handicap mark than last year, which would be a big ask. However the ease in which he cruised to victory in the Cross Country Chase would suggest he has improved again.
ANIBALE FLY: Tony Martin’s nine-year-old thundered home in the Gold Cup to be second to Al Boum Photo. He was fourth in the National last year and will race off a 5lb higher mark this year. One can only imagine that he will be bang in contention at Aintree.
MS PARFOIS: No mare has won the Grand National since 1951 but Ms Parfois could buck the trend. She was an excellent second in the Midlands National on Saturday on just her second run of the season. There is not much recovery time between now and Aintree but if she runs then she looks very well handicapped and could race off 10st 2lb.