He had the option of running in the Grade 1 novice chase but he comes here off a mark of 145 in this handicap instead. That is 3lb higher than when he was third over an extended 2m4f at the Festival last month, but I don’t think you can argue with that rise in the weights. He has good form over 3m over hurdles, so hopefully the step up in trip won’t be an issue, and the deep ground suits him well. He looks to hold a very solid chance.
The Worlds End
He had his finest moment to date when winning the 3m Grade 1 novice here last season on good ground. But he just hasn’t had his ideal conditions this time around, which is incredibly frustrating for all concerned. That said, he has run some good races in spite of the ground – and he was beaten just over 7 lengths in the Stayers’ Hurdle last time – and I am just hoping that it doesn’t ride too bad here. I can tell you that he has been in great form at home, schooling and working really well for me, and I think he has a big run in him despite the ground. He really has been in very good order at home.
It is obvious that his chance is compromised by the testing conditions here, but you have to give it a go with a horse of his Grand National credentials. He chased home Many Clouds in this race in 2015, and then finished third off this mark last season. And he has also finished third in a Becher over these fences, too. So his Aintree pedigree is not in doubt; he loves it here.
I know he comes here after pulled-up efforts on his two starts this season, most recently in the Cross Country, but this has been his target for a while and I just hope and pray that he can handle the conditions. If he does, then it is game on. But I do like the claims of those with recent Irish and Welsh National form in the shape of Baie Des Iles and Raz De Maree, and I thought Houblon Des Obeaux shaped better than the bare form of his third at Ascot last time.
Adrian Heskin’s Grand National 1-2-3-4
1.Baie Des Iles
2.Raz De Maree
3.Houblon Des Obeaux
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