Beware The Bear Features At Cheltenham Ahead of National Bid
Beware The Bear is expected to have his first shot at the Randox Health Grand National in April. Nicky Henderson’s runner had his latest outing over hurdles at Cheltenham to keep him ticking over this season.
The 10-year-old finished eighth of 12 runners in the Paddy Power 69 Sleeps To Cheltenham Handicap Hurdle which was won by the 3/1 favourite Skandiburg. He was at the rear of the field for the majority of the contest and was never really able to get into it.
Henderson will not be too concerned about the result and instead will be pleased that his horse was able to feature for the second time this season. He will be hoping the chaser will be able to peak in April when he lines up at the Merseyside track.
Beware The Bear did hit the frame on his opening run of the campaign in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury as he finished fourth of 24 in the Grade Three race back in November. He stayed on well in the closing stages of that race to come home 2¼L away from the winner De Rasher Counter.
Odds Suggest Henderson’s charge is not without a chance
On the back of his latest run at Cheltenham, Beware The Bear is as short as 33/1* with some bookmakers for the world’s most famous steeplechase.
Henderson revealed before the race on New Year’s Day that this will be his horse’s last outing ahead of the 4m2f contest in April. He will, therefore, wait patiently now to see where the handicapper has positioned him in the official weights which are released in February.
Cheltenham Festival Success Back In 2019
The highlight of Beware The Bear’s career so far came at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival when he landed the Ultima Handicap Chase on day one of the meeting. He drifted left up the hill at Prestbury Park but was still able to hold on by just over a length in front of Vintage Clouds.
Horses which feature in the Ultima Handicap Chase often line up in the Grand National later that season or in the future. Royal Tan, Team Spirit, West Tip, Seagram and Rough Quest have all completed the double, with the latter doing so at Aintree in 1996, a year after his Cheltenham victory.
Henderson bids for opening Grand National win
Nicky Henderson has won just about every major race on the National Hunt calendar in the UK bar the Grand National. The five-time Champion Trainer has not had too many runners in the marathon contest in recent years though.
Henderson has saddled the second in the race on two occasions. He did so in 1979 when Zongalero took the runner-up spot behind Rubstic, while in 1987, he went close with The Tsarevich who finished 5L behind the winner Maori Venture.
The Seven Barrows handler has now saddled 43 runners in the feature race at Aintree. Valtor took part in 2019 but had to settle for 18th place in the contest which was won once again by Tiger Roll.
With Beware The Bear ticking a lot of the right boxes when it comes to a Grand National horse, Henderson will be hoping he is able to land that elusive first win in April, ending his 41-year wait.
*Odds subject to change.