Grand National Contenders Have Grimthorpe Entries
The 888Sport Grimthorpe Handicap Chase at Doncaster on Saturday is the chance for some of the leading Grand National contenders to get a final preparation run before Aintree.
Run over 3m2f, the Grand National Trial has been won by the likes of Wayward Price, The Last Samuri and Definitly Red in recent years.
No horse has been successful in this race at Doncaster and then gone on to score in the Grand National in the same year.
2017 winner Definitly Red tops the betting
Definitly Red produced one of the best performances of his career in the Grimthorpe in 2017 and he scored in emphatic fashion by 12 lengths.
This is his first run back at Doncaster since that victory and the bookmakers make him the 5/1* favourite to become only the second horse to win this contest more than once.
Although he has not tasted success so far this season, it has been a consistent campaign from Brian Ellison’s runner. He finished fourth in the Becher over the Grand National fences back in December, while last time out he was second in the Grade Two Peter Marsh Chase.
Definitly Red has appeared just once in the Grand National so far in his career. He was pulled up in 2017 in the race which was won by One for Arthur. The 11-year-old is 25/1* to come out on top in April.
Beware The Bear set for third run of the season
Beware The Bear is looking for his first victory since scoring in the 2019 Ultima Handicap Chase. Nicky Henderson’s chaser will need to carry the top weight of 11st-12lb in the Grimthorpe as he is the highest rated horse in the field at 159.
The Grand National is one of the few major races which Henderson has yet to win. He will feel he will have a strong chance this year, with Beware The Bear part of his strong list of entries.
Beware The Bear’s season began at Newbury back in November in the Ladbrokes Trophy. He came home fourth of the 24 runners, just two-and-a-quarter lengths behind the winner De Rasher Counter.
The 10-year-old’s last run came over hurdles at Cheltenham. He finished a long way down the field in that contest.
A return to fences at Doncaster has been favoured instead of the Cheltenham Festival this year for the horse. He is set for his debut in the Grand National later this season where he is a 33/1* shot.
Saint Xavier has options this weekend
Due to withdrawals ahead of him in the weights, Saint Xavier is now guaranteed a space in the Grand National field if his connections opt to have a shot at the world’s most famous steeplechase.
Before then though, the eight-year-old has entries in two races this weekend. He is entered for the Grimthorpe and a Listed contest at Kelso. Which of those two races he appears in may depend on the ground this Saturday.
Saint Xavier has had just three runs since joining Paul Nicholls’ yard from France. He was successful at Kempton on his second run over an extended 3m trip.
The French-bred horse was second at Musselburgh last time out over hurdles where he was beaten as the 6/4 favourite.
Although he has only featured three times in the UK, he has plenty of experience over fences in France. He could be a lively outsider at 50/1* as he bids to give Paul Nicholls his second win in the Grand National.
*Odds subject to change.