Elegant Escape Still On National Path Despite Chepstow Disappointment
— Melissa Jones (@fillyonform) 27 December 2019
Elegant Escape was unable to land the Coral Welsh Grand National for a second time during the festive period, however, Colin Tizzard’s runner remains on track to line up in the National at Aintree in April.
The eight-year-old prevailed in the feature contest at Chepstow in 2018. He was the well-backed 9-4 favourite to defend his crown last month and become the first back-to-back winner since Bonanza Boy in 1989. Unfortunately for those connected to the horse, he had to settle for sixth place.
Elegant Escape was unable to repeat what his stablemate Native River did in 2016 and win off top weight in the stayers’ contest. Only three horses in the last 30 years have managed that feat in the Welsh Grand National which shows how difficult the task he was faced with was.
It was Potters Corner who stayed on the strongest in the closing stages of the 3m5½f contest. He was able to score by just under two lengths to become the first Welsh-trained winner of the race in 54 years.
The bookmakers make Elegant Escape a 20/1* shot for the National this year. If he does take part in the 40-runner field, it will be his first attempt at the bigger fences at the Merseyside track.
Pleasing start to season
Elegant Escape started his season in the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. He came home in second place in that race, which was won by Ballyoptic in a pleasing opening run of the campaign.
Tizzard’s chaser then lined up in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury where once again he left connections delighted with his performance, finishing third in the 24-runner field. He was passing tired horses at the back end of that race and was only two lengths behind De Rasher Counter.
Elegant Escape is likely to appear next in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham at the end of this month. He finished second in that Grade Two contest in 2019 when Frodon just got the better of him in a close finish.
Gold Cup also likely to be on the schedule again
Tizzard has stated that he believes Elegant Escape is “just a gear short” of being a Cheltenham Gold Cup contender so clearly holds the horse in high regard. He finished sixth in the feature race of the Cheltenham Festival in 2019 and is as big as 50/1* to prevail in March.
The 10-year-old is now rated 2lb higher than when he featured in the Gold Cup last year. It was reported that he lost his left fore shoe in the race in 2019, therefore, he did extremely well to finish in front of some very good horses at Prestbury Park.
Dorset Trainer set to go to battle with strong entries
Somerset-trainer Tizzard could saddle a strong team of horses for the 2020 Grand National. Former Gold Cup winner Native River may get his opening shot at the famous steeplechase, young chaser Mister Malarkey looks to be a national horse, while West Approach can’t be discounted if he takes his chance.
Tizzard has never won the Grand National but he will surely have his best opportunity yet in April if all of his runners make it to Aintree fit and healthy.
*Odds subject to change.