Perfect Candidate Image by Eric Belshaw

Perfect Candidate
Image by Eric Belshaw

Fergal O’Brien is keen to give Perfect Candidate the chance to test his staying powers in next year’s Randox Health Grand National.

While Alvarado has been regular participant in the Aintree showpiece for the Naunton handler in recent seasons, he feels the time could be right to let the nine-year-old take his chance in the marathon contest.

After finishing tailed off on his seasonal return at Bangor, the five-times race winner was denied a third success at Cheltenham last Friday after being edged out on the line in a Grade Three.

O’Brien said: “He was very good and very brave at Cheltenham. He put 110 per cent in and gave it his all. We could have no complaints.

“We came away from Cheltenham disappointed not to win, but it was a fantastic run off a big weight. Conor (Shoemark) really enjoyed riding him.

“We will find another race for him, but I would like to run him in the Grand National. He is rated 150 so he should get in but it might mean missing the Cheltenham Festival.”

Stablemate Barney Dwan will revert to hurdles following his failure to finish his second start over fences.

The Naunton handler plans to put the chasing career of the Grade Three-winning hurdler on hold for the time being after he was brought down at Wincanton on Tuesday.

Previously, the Paul and Clare Rooney-owned six-year-old blundered away his chances of making a winning start over fences at Kempton when knuckling on landing after the final fence, with the race seemingly in safe keeping.

O’Brien said: “His two runs over fences so far he has ended up, to an extent, on the floor both times. I just think the best thing would be to go back and start afresh next season.

“I thought he jumped a bit cautiously early on at Wincanton, as it seemed he remembered Kempton but once he warmed, he was fine. It was just unfortunate what happened.

“I’ve spoken to Jason Maguire (racing manager to the owners) and I think his next run will be over hurdles.”