Holiday-bound Easysland skips Aintree

Last Updated 24 Mar 2021 | By Enda McElhinney | Commercial content | 18+ | Play Responsibly | T&C Apply | Wagering

Connections of Easysland have confirmed that he won’t be taking up his option of running in next month’s Grand National at Aintree.

The David Cottin-trained Easysland has already been shipped to Ireland for his summer recess following a Cheltenham Festival second in the Cross Country Chase.

On holiday in Ireland

Easysland had been handed a mark of 167 by the British Horseracing Authority for the Grand National on April 10th, enough to see him joint top-rated alongside Santini and Bristol De Mai.

The trio were all left in the race at the most recent forfeit stage but, having surrendered his Cross Country Chase crown in the Cotswolds to a re-energised Tiger Roll, the JP McManus-owned Easysland is now in Martinstown, Co Limerick for a break.

“Easysland has gone off on his holidays to Ireland after his run at Cheltenham on Wednesday, he will not be running in the Grand National,” said trainer Cottin.

“I haven’t spoken to the owners about future plans yet but I am sure that he will have a good holiday and we will bring him back for next autumn.”

Top-weights all a doubt

Easysland might not be the only of the top-rated to swerve the world-famous steeplechase. Nicky Henderson had previously suggested the Gold Cup was the main aim for Santini, but the 2020 Blue Riband runner-up was pulled up early in that showpiece race by Aidan Coleman after a jumping error halted his momentum.

The Seven Barrows trainer has never won the Aintree spectacular and it’s unknown whether he’ll consider the race for Santini having watched things go awry at Cheltenham. Henderson has previously indicated he’d prefer to wait and see Santini contesting the Grand National in 2022.

Bristol De Mai skipped his usual Gold Cup run in the Cotswolds, although trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has yet to confirm plans to carry 11st 10lb in the National. The grey was last spotted finishing second to Native River in the re-routed Cotswold Chase at Sandown in February.

Quicker ground favoured the Tiger

Cottin was circumspect in his assessment of Easysland’s Cross Country effort. The race was almost a mirror image of 12 months previous.

Tiger Roll, the vanquished champion in 2020, took up the running late on and Easysland simply couldn’t bridge the gap to the dual winner and two-time Aintree hero as Keith Donoghue’s mount dominated in the home straight.

Easysland scored a 17-length success over Tiger Roll on ground officially described as soft last year, but the quicker surface this time led to an impressive 18-length success for the Gigginstown House-owned star. Cottin had no complaints about the result.

“There was a notable question mark this year with the ground, the better ground was certainly not to our advantage but it suited Tiger Roll, unlike last year.

“We all know how good Tiger Roll is, he’s a champion. Looking back on last year and the heavy ground, it probably knocked the speed out of Tiger Roll and it suited us,” he said.

“I think he (Easysland) ran an excellent race, there is nothing we would change, we were simply beaten by a champion who came to life on the good ground and now he will head off for a well-deserved holiday.”

Enda McElhinney

Enda McElhinney is a racing writer with a growing portfolio of work on both British and Irish racing, with a particular fondness for National Hunt racing. While he acknowledges there have been many great runners; there has only ever been one Denman.

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