There is plenty of collateral form to pick through for Saturday’s Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock but actually finding the winner may be a different matter.
The stand-out form appears to be Le Beau Bai‘s defeat of Giles Cross in the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow in December. Richard Lee‘s nine-year-old (13/2 on betfair) stayed on dourly under Charlie Poste at the Welsh track having beaten Sona Sasta (16/1 with BetVictor) there earlier. Third in this race last year, there are clearly no questions to answer regarding track and trip for Le Beau Bai but Giles Cross is now 7lb better off for seven lengths at Chepstow and must have every chance of turning the tables. Victor Dartnall‘s consistent stayer had earlier beaten subsequent Newbury winner Rey Nacarado (a general 10/1) in the Southern National at Fontwell and the latter will have his work cut out at Haydock reversing that form on 4lb worse terms.
The class act is undoubtedly Neptune Collonges but he has the weight to match. Now an 11-year-old, it would take a sterling effort to win this under 11st12lb though three have managed the feat in the last 10 years, including Silver By Nature 12 months ago, and Paul Nicholls won this in 2003 with Shotgun Willy. Neptune Collonges is 10/1 with Boylesports. Always Right (13/2 with Blue Square and 888sport) was third in last year’s Scottish National but appeared to be in the handicapper’s grip when pulled up at Wetherby over Christmas and Mohayer (12/1 with Betfred and totesport) needs to improve again if he’s to add to this season’s wins at Market Rasen and Ffos Las.
Willie Mullins, who has a host of entries in the Grand National itself, tests the water with Some Target (11/1 at BetVictor) but, along with 2009 Grand National winner Mon Mome (a general 16/1), he hasn’t been easy to predict since scoring at Punchestown more than a year ago. King Fontaine (25/1 with Boylesports and Paddy Power) and Miko De Beauchene (33/1 with BetVictor and Boylesports) have become disappointing and Ballyfitz (a general 33/1) isn’t the force of old so we’re going to use the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick last month as our template for this. Fredo (10/1 with Boylesports and Skybet) finished second with Major Malarkey fourth and Sona Sasta sixth. There wasn’t much between the first four at the line, however, and Major Malarkey may come out on top this time as the long straight at Haydock should be to his advantage. The 20/1 put against the latter by Boylesports is certainly too big.