Breuil contests Classic Chase ahead of Aintree tilt
Le Breuil is set to his crank preparations for the Randox Health Grand National up another notch after being confirmed as a runner in the McCoy Contractors Classic Chase at Warwick on Saturday.
After a stellar novice chasing season last term, the eight-year-old has had the Aintree spectacular earmarked as his main objective throughout the season by trainer Ben Pauling and has already raced twice this term.
He will face 14 other rivals and is set to be ridden for the first time by young 7lb claimer Luca Morgan in the three-mile five-furlong contest, for which he is a 7/1* shot.
Aintree on Pauling’s mind after stable star’s Cheltenham victory
It has not been a snap-decision to target the chestnut at the ‘people’s race’. If he makes it to Merseyside in April, it will have been a year of plans and preparation in the making dating back to the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.
On testing ground, Le Breuil showed his ability to stay extreme distances when gamely landing a thrilling climax to the Grade Two National Hunt Chase.
After making steady headway through the race, Jamie Codd angled his mount three from the finish before engaging in a gruelling duel up the hill alongside the Irish-trained Discorama, coming out on top by a half-length in the four-miler, where only three horses completed.
That booked him his ticket towards Aintree, with Pauling immediately nominating the 2020 Grand National after the race.
“I knew he’d stay, but I didn’t think he’d stay that well. When Discorama jumped upsides, I thought ‘what’s going to happen here’, but he was really gutsy.” The Gloucestershire-based handler said.
“We’ve got one thing in mind for this horse and that is next year’s National, so let’s hope he gets there in one piece.”
Poor start to season doesn’t deter National objective
In a bid to keep his chasing handicap mark down, Le Breuil made his seasonal return in the Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby, however nothing went to plan.
Quietly fancied for the three-mile contest, the son of Anzillero quickly lost his place during the race and ended up being pulled up four flights from home. While Pauling could offer no explanation for the poor effort, it was reported by his rider, Richard Johnson, that the gelding had stopped quickly.
It wasn’t the ideal season return, but there was well-known coverage that Pauling’s yard were out of form at the time and subsequently went into lockdown just weeks later.
“Jamie said he hasn’t ridden many that have jumped Aintree as well as him.”
After the Wetherby no-show, the eight-year-old got his first taste of the Grand National fences in the Becher Chase last month and despite being beaten, he was one of the eye-catchers of the race.
Jumping noticeably well throughout, Le Breuil – reunited with
– made significant headway after Valentine’s before weakening into a 20-length seventh.
It was effectively his first run of the season and Pauling was delighted with the performance.
“He was very good and jumped brilliantly. Jamie said he hasn’t ridden many that have jumped Aintree as well as him, those were his words,” he said.
“He travelled into the race well and got tired going across the Melling Road. It was basically like his first run of the season as he didn’t really have a race at Wetherby.
“He didn’t stop and kept galloping, so it’s all systems go for the national and he’ll be prepared accordingly.”
Warwick now, Aintree next?
Pauling’s preparation takes his stable star to Warwick this weekend in a race which has a good recent Grand National record, with One For Arthur completing the Classic Chase/Grand National double in 2017.
He faces a tough task in the race off top-weight, and with his trainer thinking he’s now on an ideal chasing mark, Le Breuil may head straight to the Grand National afterwards, for which he is a 40/1* shot.
*Odds subject to change.