It should be all systems go for Aintree after Saturday’s Red Square Vodka Gold Cup at Haydock where 15 of the 18 runners are in the Grand National on 5 April.
Peter Beaumont, the North Yorkshire trainer, has always believed Bobby Grant to be a National type “witha touch of class”, also with a great chance of putting up a big show in the most famous race in the world.
Beaumont saddled Bobby Grant’s stable companion Niki Dee to finish third to Papillon in the 2000 National and has few superiors at preparing a good old fashioned staying chaser.
Bobby Grant was well beaten in fourth behind Mini Sensation at Uttoxeter last time but Beaumont is adamant the atrocious conditions were too much for his horse.
He insists that on the better Haydockground Bobby Grant won’t be far away and ready to put his Aintree credentials on the line.
Bindaree, last year’s Grand National hero, can be expected to revel in this three-and-a-half mile stamina test, while the Paul Nicholls-trained Shotgun Willy is being aimed specifically at the National.
His run under topweight here will be worth watching as Nicholls makes no secret of the fact that he fancies Shotgun Willy for Aintree almost as much as he does his ante post favourite, Ad Hoc.
Jonjo O’Neill’s Iris’s Gift, unbeaten over hurdles, is difficult to oppose in the Red Square Novices’ Hurdle, where Tees Components is an interesting rival.
Goguenard, third behind Gold Cup hopes Truckers Tavern and Hussard Collonges over the course in January, may be the answer to a tricky handicap for the Favourites Chase.
At Newbury the Nicky Henderson stable is worth following with the novice chaser Got One Too, the handicapper Lord of the River and hurdler Green Ideal.
Henderson’s Doncaster raider Regal Exit is a must in the Bawtry Novices’ Chase, while Europa, from the Tom Tate stable, should defy top weight in the Auckley Handicap Chase.