Excellent entries are revealed today for the two races over the Grand National fences at Aintree on Saturday, December 8th.
The 2017 Grand National hero One For Arthur (Lucinda Russell) is one of 58 entries for the feature £150,000 Becher Handicap Chase over just shy of three and a quarter miles.
Now a nine-year-old, One For Arthur has not raced since that memorable success for Scotland in April 2017, having sustained a tendon injury when being prepared for the following season in October of that year.
Blaklion was one of the most impressive Becher Handicap Chase winners in recent memory when scoring by nine lengths last year. His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has won the Becher Handicap Chase six times since its inception in 1992, making him the most successful trainer in the race. The Gloucestershire handler also has entered Ballyoptic, Go Conquer and Calett Mad in the Becher Handicap Chase.
Dr Richard Newland sent out Pineau De Re to win the Grand National in 2014 and already has his eye on the 2019 renewal with Abolitionist. Formerly trained in Ireland by Ellmarie Holden, Abolitionist finished third in the 2017 Irish Grand National, not long after which he was purchased privately by Newland.
The 10-year-old made the perfect start for current connections when capturing the Pertemps Network (Supporting BTRC) Handicap Hurdle by 10 lengths at Aintree on November 10th.
Worcestershire-based Newland reported: “Abolitionist has come out of his run at Aintree in good form and we were delighted with his victory.
“We bought him 15 months ago and we were trying to target this year’s Grand National. He had finished third in an Irish National, but it all went a bit pear-shaped for him last season.
“He had a stress fracture on his pelvis and then when we tried to bring him back, he had another stress fracture on his pelvis. I thought we were nearly finished with him, but we got him sorted and gave him plenty of work and thankfully it has worked out.
“The Becher Handicap Chase is the plan for him now. From our point of view, his run at the weekend was a prep for the Becher. Obviously, we hoped he would win it off a low weight so it was a pleasing run.
“He is not that dissimilar to Pineau Du Re. Abolitionist probably has more untold stamina as he seemed to stay the three miles on Saturday at Aintree well, but I guess we don’t know far he will get in time.
“They both share a similar zest for racing and are quite keen going sorts. Abolitionist is a better jumper, but perhaps Pineau Du Re had slightly more class in his younger years, highlighted by what he did over shorter distances.
“It was a great start for us from Abolitionist and we are looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Irish handler Gordon Elliott, who captured his second Grand National in April with Tiger Roll, accounts for six of the 12 Irish-trained entries for the 2018 Becher Handicap Chase. Elliott’s sextet features Don Poli, 2018 Irish Grand National victor General Principle and French import Borice.
The remaining Irish-trained contenders include Crosshue Boy (Sean Doyle), successful in a valuable novices’ handicap chase at Ayr’s Scottish Grand National Festival in April, talented mare Baie Des Iles (Ross O’Sullivan), and the Joseph O’Brien-trained Vieux Morvan.
Ms Parfois is one of two entries for Dorset-based trainer Anthony Honeyball. She was just touched off when second in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and filled the same position behind Terrefort in the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree in April. Honeyball has also entered 2017 Ladbrokes Trophy third Regal Encore.
Step Back (Mark Bradstock) made great strides over fences last season and ended the campaign with a 13-length demolition of his rivals in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown Park in April.
Trainer Paul Nicholls has landed the Becher Handicap Chase three times, most recently with Mr Pointment in 2007. The Somerset handler’s four entries are led by dual Scottish Grand National victor Vicente and Present Man, successful for the second year in succession in the Listed Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase at Wincanton on November 10th.
Ultragold (Colin Tizzard) has bagged the last two renewals of the Topham Chase over the Grand National fences, including at odds of 50/1 in 2017. He has yet to race beyond an extended three miles.
Others to note include Captain Redbeard (Stuart Coltherd), a progressive chaser last term who shaped with promise when third on his return over hurdles at Carlisle on November 4thy, and Listed Future Stars Intermediate Chase second Thomas Patrick (Tom Lacey).
Weights for the Becher Handicap Chase will be revealed at noon on Wednesday, November 21st.
Frodon heads 42 entries for Grand Sefton Handicap Chase
The other race over the Grand National fences on is the £80,000 Grand Sefton Handicap Chase over the intermediate distance of two miles and five furlongs, which has seen a prize money increase of £10,000.
Frodon tops the 42 entries after making a successful reappearance at Aintree in the Monet’s Garden Old Roan Limited Handicap Chase over the Mildmay Course. His trainer Paul Nicholls has six entries in total, the most of any handler.
Born Survivor is one of two in-form entries for trainer Dan Skelton. He was a decisive winner of Listed handicap chase at Wetherby, while stablemate Cobra De Mai was a game neck winner at Stratford.
Shanahan’s Turn (Colin Tizzard) proved himself over course and distance when chasing home stablemate Ultragold in the Topham Chase in April.
Several horses have been entered in Grand Sefton Handicap Chase as well as the Becher Handicap Chase. They include Present Man, Captain Redbeard and Missed Approach (Warren Greatrex), winner of the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
The three Irish-trained entries are Poormans Hill (Gordon Elliott) and the Patrick Griffin-trained pair of Heist and Dare To Endeavour.
Weights for the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase will be revealed at noon on Wednesday, November 21st.