Aintree waiting game for Kitty’s Light

Last Updated 3 weeks ago | By Enda McElhinney | Commercial content | 18+ | Play Responsibly | T&C Apply | Wagering

Punchestown Racing – Winter Festival Day 1, Punchestown Racecourse, Naas, Kildare 14/11/2021 The Liam And Valerie Brennan Florida Pearl Novice Steeplechase Keith Donoghue on Vanillier jump the last fence to win

Trainer Christian Williams remains hopeful that Kitty’s Light will be amongst the final field for the Grand National at Aintree on April 13, suggesting it would be his first ‘proper chance’ of winning the great race.

Kitty’s Light won the four-mile Scottish Grand National at Ayr last season and followed up a week later in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown over an extended three-and-a-half-miles.

Aintree has been the plan all along this season and, following a satisfactory Cheltenham Festival appearance, the Neath-based handler is excited about his prospects in the world’s most iconic jumps race.

Patience the key for now

Connections of Kitty’s Light are nervously waiting to find out if enough rivals drop out of a slimmed-down Randox Grand National field to see them getting in.

Ahead of the latest acceptance stage, Kitty’s Light was at number 48 on the list for what will be the first 34-runner Grand National.

There was some good news on Tuesday morning as Hewick, Longhouse Poet, Asterion Forlonge, Threeunderthrufive, Letsbeclearaboutit and James Du Berlais were all removed from the equation.

They had all been guaranteed a run, while 17 horses in total were withdrawn from the National list, so Kitty’s Light is moving ever-closer to getting in.

Kitty’s Light is the shortest-priced British-trained contender for the 4m2½f marathon after defending champion and 5/1 favourite Corach Rambler.

“It’d be good for the horse and the owners if he were to get to a chance to run in the Grand National so we can see how good he is. I’d hope he’d be competitive, and if he finished in the first six it would be wonderful,” said Williams.

Cheltenham run a fair showing

Kitty’s Light completed his prep for Aintree with a staying-on seventh in the Ultima at Cheltenham recently and Williams was satisfied with that showing.

“He travelled well for a long way in the Ultima and it was only really a prep. We hadn’t had a good, clean run with him this winter until about three weeks before Cheltenham, so I’d have to say it was pleasing enough. I’d class it as a positive run even though he was beaten 30-lengths in a handicap,” he added.

Looking towards Aintree on April 13, the notoriously laid back Glamorgan trainer wasn’t getting worked up and says there are other targets if they don’t make the final cut.

“Aintree has been the target all year, but whether we get in, we’ll see. It is what it is, the owners are a bit panicky about it, but there’s nothing you can do. It would be great if he got there, but if he doesn’t then we’ll go back to Ayr and try to retain the Scottish National,” Williams added.

A ‘proper chance’ for Aintree glory

Potters Corner was pulled up in the 2021 National as Minella Times won under history-maker Rachael Blackmore, while Win My Wings was second to stablemate Kitty’s Light in last year’s Scottish version but is absent now with an injury.

Williams, who rode Royal Auclair to finish second behind Hedgehunter in the 2005 National, really believes Kitty’s Light can play a big part.

“Kitty’s would be our first proper chance in the race. Potters Corner wasn’t the same horse after he won the Welsh National so didn’t really go there with a realistic chance, while Win My Wings was a bit of a freak and would have had a chance but got injured at the start of the season and missed out,” he added.

“It’s great and I’m privileged to have a horse to take us there with, what we think, is a realistic chance.”

Enda McElhinney

Enda McElhinney is a racing writer with a growing portfolio of work on both British and Irish racing, with a particular fondness for National Hunt racing. While he acknowledges there have been many great runners; there has only ever been one Denman.

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