Grand National Contenders Fail To Shine In Haydock Trial
The Grand National Trial at Haydock was a great chance for many Aintree contenders to enhance their claims for the Merseyside contest in April, although very few were able to do that.
Smooth Stepper came out on top at 33/1 at the Lancashire course. The 11-year-old, who was off bottom weight of 10st-0lb, does not have an entry in the Grand National so the long wait for the double in the same year continues.
After getting the green light earlier in the morning, Haydock was able to host their Grand National Trial meeting. Ten runners lined up for the 3m4½f contest, with six of those horses finishing the course in testing conditions.
Lord Du Mesnil continues to improve
Lord Du Mesnil looked the most likely winner with two fences to jump at Haydock. The improving seven-year-old held the lead up until the final 110 yards where he was then passed by Smooth Stepper.
Richard Hobson’s runner went into the race having won on his last three appearances over fences, including a C&D success back in December.
Given his age, the Grand National this season is not a given for the horse. He has entries in the National Hunt Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase and the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, therefore, that meeting is likely to be his immediate target now.
The bookmakers make Lord Du Mesnil a 40/1* shot for the race in Merseyside in April. He is not currently part of the 40 runners which are guaranteed to get into the contest so he will need others to drop out ahead of him in the weights to make the field.
Yala Enki failed to justify favouritism
Yala Enki started as the 11/4 favourite at Haydock following strong support in the betting behind the 10-year-old.
Paul Nicholls’ runner went into the race on the back of a victory at Taunton over the same distance. He was prominent at the front end of the Grand National Trial field but weakened four out so had to settle for third place.
Yala Enki is now 28/1* for the Grand National where he will need to carry 10st-11lb at Aintree for his first shot at the famous steeplechase.
The 2018 Grand National Trial winner has a wealth of experience over fences now, however, it will be the first time he has encountered the bigger obstacles in Liverpool.
Elegant Escape disappoints on reappearance
Elegant Escape is considered to be one of Colin Tizzard’s leading chances for the Grand National this year, although he will need to improve on this latest performance at Haydock.
The 2018 Welsh Grand National winner was never fluent over his fences and that seemed to take its toll on the horse. He was well out of contention when jockey Robbie Power opted to pull his mount up four out.
That was the first time the gelding had pulled up in his career so far. Tizzard was unable to answer why the horse was so disappointing in his post-race comments.
Despite that run, Elegant Escape is 33/1* for the Grand National at the back end of the season. He has an entry in the Cheltenham Gold Cup so he may have one more run before his bid to win the marathon contest in April.
*Odds subject to change.