Midlands Grand National Preview – Saturday 17th March
Last updated: March 14, 2018 by Leon Marshal
The feature race at Uttoxeter on Saturday is the £125,000 Midlands Grand National over four and a quarter miles.
The race is one of the longest steeplechases of the season and is usually run in very testing ground. David Pipe dominated the race between 2011 and 2014 when saddling four consecutive winners. No horse has won the Midlands National twice and only Synchronised (2010) and Firebird Flyer (2016) have carried more than 11 stone to victory in the past sixteen runnings. Synchronised would go on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2012 while The Thinker, successful here in 1986, would also go on to win Chasing’s Blue Riband event. Other notable winners include Rag Trade (1975), Bonanza Boy (1991), Young Kenny (1999) and Goonyella (2015).
Back To The Thatch can atone for Newcastle fall
Back To The Thatch went into several notebooks when crashing out of the Eider Chase at the sixteenth fence. The gelding had made smooth progress under Richard Johnson to that point. He had won his previous race by 11 lengths in heavy ground and this race looks tailor-made for Henry Daly’s six-year-old.
Daly also runs The Artful Cobbler who is seeking a four-timer. He jumped boldly when beating Petite Power at Lingfield last time out and has gone up 8lbs in the handicap. That leaves him nicely at the foot of the weights with just 10st 3lbs. With the going expected to be heavy at Uttoxeter, horses carrying a light weight have a big advantage. Dan Skelton relies on Get On The Yager, all out to beat Wakanda in the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day. The runner-up and fifth-placed Baywing both won valuable handicaps next time out so that form has held up well.
Get On The Yager was put up 7lbs for his next race at Southwell and was beaten by Two Swallows. He appeared to find the two and a half miles too sharp on that track and could improve for the step up in trip. He won his only previous start beyond three miles at Fontwell Park last season.
Welsh National runner-up returns to action
Veteran Alfie Spinner finished second to Raz De Maree in the Welsh National in December. He has not raced since but Kerry Lee may have had this race in mind for him for some time. He is unlikely to find much improvement at the age of thirteen but stamina is his forte.
Dr Richard Newland saddles West Of The Edge, a ten-year-old gelding by Westerner. He ran a solid trial for this race when second to Baywing in the Eider Chase at Newcastle last month. The handicapper has put him up 3lbs for that effort but he jumps and stays well.
Milansbar won the Grade 3 Warwick Classic Chase under a brilliant ride from Bryony Frost in January. He was not able to reproduce that effort off a 9lbs higher mark next time in the Eider Chase, eventually finishing fifth. The handicapper may have taken his measure for the time being. Sue Smith’s Hainan was also well beaten in the Eider Chase after being headed at the fourth last. The grey could be ridden with more restraint this weekend.
Midlands Grand National Betting Tips
Back To The Thatch @10-1 Boylesports
The Artful Cobbler @10-1
Each-way ¼ odds, 1,2,3,4
The Midlands Grand National is due off at 3.35 on Saturday 17th March and will be televised live on ITV4.