Grand National Trial Preview – Saturday 20th February
Last updated: February 19, 2021 by Leon Marshal
The feature race at Haydock Park on Saturday is the £75,000 Grand National Trial Handicap Chase over three and a half miles. As the title suggests, the race is intended as a trial for Aintree, and it was won by the great Red Rum in 1975. Other notable winners include Party Politics (1993), Cool Ground (1992) and Master Oats (1994). The race has provided few Aintree clues in recent years, although Grand National winning trainers Lucinda Russell and Venetia Williams have both enjoyed plenty of success.
No Grand National Entry For Notachance
Trainer Alan King wasted no time in ruling out a Grand National entry for Notachance after his game success at Warwick last month. The seven-year-old had been laid out for the Classic Chase since winning at Bangor in November and stayed on to beat Achille by half a length. King is not a fan of the Aintree Grand National, and the Scottish National at Ayr is likely to be his end-of-season target. He was defying a 7lbs rise at Warwick and is up a further 6lbs this weekend.
Achille is set to re-oppose on 3lbs better terms for Venetia Williams, successful here with Rigadin De Beauchene (2014) and Yala Enki (2018). The grey was having his first race for 427 days at Warwick, so it was a fine effort to go so close. He is eleven years of age but has obviously had issues as he has only raced 24 times under rules. Providing he has taken that race well, he looks to have a solid each-way chance.
The Two Amigos finished a gallant second to the well-handicapped Secret Reprieve in the Welsh National in January. That race had been his target since fifth the previous season. He was 12 lengths behind Secret Reprieve in the Welsh National Trial but closed the gap to three in the big race when conceding 8lbs. He ran here 12 months ago when finishing a remote fourth to Smooth Stepper, although he would have been closer but for a stumble at the second last.
Sojourn was second to Sam’s Adventure in the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase here in December. He had gone up 11lbs for a 15 lengths victory at Carlisle on his previous start. The handicapper has pushed him up another couple of pounds for his latest effort.
Enqarde Sneaks In With Low Weight At Haydock
Dr Richard Newland trained Pineau De Re to win the Grand National in 2014. He is represented on Saturday by Enqarde, who will not be going to Aintree this year but won well at Ascot last time. He parted company with his rider at the thirteenth fence in the Tommy Whittle but made amends with a three and a half lengths win over Cobolabo. The seven-year-old showed a tendency to jump to his left at Ascot, but that shouldn’t inconvenience him at Haydock. He has an 8lbs rise, but his rider takes off a useful 3lbs with his claim.
Perfect Candidate was also a winner last time out, finishing well clear in a race where only three of the eleven managed to complete. That tells us all we need to know about conditions that day, but Perfect Candidate is now 14 years of age. The oldest winner of this race was Giles Farnaby as a twelve-year-old back in 1958.
Potters Legend came up against a handicap good-thing here last time when beaten 16 lengths by Royal Pagaille. That horse looks set to line up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup if he gets his favoured soft ground. There was no disgrace in that effort but Potters Legend had been well beaten in a Veterans’ Chase on his previous outing.
Grand National Trial Betting Tips
Notachance @9-2 888 Sport
Each-way ¼ odds, 1,2,3
The Haydock Grand National Trial is due off at 2.40 on Saturday 20th February and will be shown live on ITV.