New names to watch on the Grand National 2021 trail
Not since Rough Quest in 1995 and 1996 has a horse won the Festival Trophy currently known as the Ultima Handicap Chase and Grand National the following season but The Conditional, who is currently disputing favouritism with some firms, could very easily go close at Aintree next April. He defeated two other horses with National potential for 2021 in Kildisart and Discorama in the 3m1f Cheltenham handicap which completed a fine season where he had won an earlier Cheltenham handicap and finished second in the Ladbrokes Trophy.
A fine jumper with a high cruising speed, one could well imagine him travelling best as they turn in at Aintree. Stamina is a slight worry after fading in Warwick’s Classic Chase but he will be another year older and stronger next season and given he is only eight at present improvement can be expected.
The Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham ought to be a fine trial with horses encountering a multitude of different obstacles over 3m6f but in the early years, the calibre of horses in the Cross Country Chase simply wasn’t up to scratch compared with the National. That all changed when Tiger Roll entered the scene as he won back-to-back Cross Country Chases and followed each up with National glory.
As Tiger Roll bid for a hat-trick in the Cheltenham Festival race, however, he was firmly put in his place by French raider Easysland. Just a six-year-old, Easyland swept aside Tiger Roll as he scooted clear for a spectacular 17 length win over a horse rated more than a stone superior to him. Obviously the handicapper now has to decide where to rate Easysland but if his 2020-21 campaign were geared towards Aintree, he would surely have a massive chance with his combination of slick jumping, immense stamina and high cruising speed.
A late injury ruled this Gigginstown-owned chaser out of the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham for which he was second favourite. A former winner of the Martin Pipe at the Festival, Champagne Classic followed up in a Punchestown Grade 1 that same spring but has had more than his share of injuries since.
After missing nearly two years he chased home the classy Chris’s Dream as a novice (Chris’s Dream ran in the Gold Cup this season) but remained a novice going into the 19/20 season. Finally making up for lost time, he landed back-to-back wins before finishing second to stablemate Battleoverdoyen in a Grade 1. His trainer, who has won the National three times, quickly pointed him at the National Hunt Chase after that saying that stamina was very much his forte and that the 3m6f trip would suit very well. With that in mind, one could well see this very lightly raced nine-year-old aimed at the National. He is currently rated 151 in Ireland and it is hard to believe that is the ceiling of his ability.
— Racenews (@RacenewsService) March 17, 2017
Paul Nicholls is one of the greatest trainers in the history of the sport so it is perhaps somewhat surprising that he has only won one Grand National, especially considering he excels most with staying chasers. In Truckers Lodge, however, he looks to have an ideal candidate for the 2021 National.
A three-time winner over hurdles, Truckers Lodge really excelled when switched to fences in the 19/20 National Hunt Season. He got off the mark over 2m7½f at Chepstow in October before showing he relished a real stamina test with a fine second in the 3m6½f Welsh National. For a novice having just his fourth start, the effort was a hugely creditable one, especially on bottomless ground.
Truckers Lodge confirmed his love for a real stamina test next as he powered 18L clear to win the Midlands National at Uttoxeter over the marathon 4m2f trip again on heavy going. He wouldn’t have got in the National in 2019 and as a novice likely would have declined even had that been possible but with a hike up to a mark of 155 he should have no such problems in 2021 and it is hard to believe he will have any other race as his principle aim now.