Could be trouble at Mill for Tiger
Walk In The Mill goes back to back and wins the 2019 Becher Chase. pic.twitter.com/36LwLcLFRq
— Steve Mullington (@mulldog) December 7, 2019
Tiger Roll became the first back-to-back winner of the Grand National since Red Rum in 1974 last April and his bid to emulate the legendary chaser, who three years later became the only three-time National winner in history, is sure to attract all of the headlines this time around.
There is little doubt that Gordon Elliott’s star will be the one to beat again this time around but his current price of around 6/1 represents terrible value for a race of this nature, especially four months in advance and before his first race of the season.
He won the 2019 edition off a mark of 159 but with a 13lb hike for that he is likely to shoulder top weight this time around. Carrying 11st 12lb in a National is a tall order for any horse, let alone one of the notoriously diminutive stature of Tiger Roll.
The one to oppose him with looks to be Walk In The Mill at odds of 20/1* for Dorset trainer Robert Walford. Walk In The Mill absolutely relishes the big fences and he kept on as well as anything into fourth behind Tiger Roll 12 months ago.
At the time of writing, he is 10lb better off than last year and that despite adding a career-best effort over these fences last time out.
In winning the 3m2f Becher Handicap Chase for the second year running, he defeated amongst others the 2017 National winner One For Arthur and although the latter caught the eye late on with a view to going up in distance, the one to really take out of the race with a view to April was undoubtedly Walk In The Mill.
He overcame being badly hampered at the first and was ahead going to the last before powering clear in the manner of a horse ready for a return to the marathon National Distance.
The handicapper raised him 6lb for that success to a career-high mark of 147 but with good reason after what appeared a career best performance. What was notable in the Becher was the enthusiasm he raced with which is often a bonus of wearing the cheekpieces which he did for the first time.
His trainer Robert Walford was in no doubt that they’d helped a horse, who he admitted can be lazy, and it is to be hoped that the same headgear can help him sit closer to the pace than a year ago in the big one.
On last year’s running alone, Walk In The Mill looks a rock-solid each way bet at 20/1* but his two Becher wins add to confidence that he can go seriously close this year. As a ten-year-old, he will never have a better chance than in 2020.
His current mark should be plenty to get into the race off a relatively light weight and it is the intention now to keep him hurdling to protect that mark between now and April.
*Odds subject to change.