Potters Corner still on Aintree course
Christian Williams may have been forced to abandon his Cheltenham Festival plans with Potters Corner, but the Ogmore Farm handler still sees his charge making the Grand National at Aintree next month.
Potters Corner was down to tackle the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham this week, but a minor setback at home has scuppered his hopes of taking on the likes of Easysland and dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll in the Cotswolds.
Cross Country target missed
Potters Corner shaped with plenty of promise in a course and distance handicap around the Cheltenham Cross Country Course in November, finishing third behind Kingswell Theatre in a race where both Easysland and Tiger Roll disappointed.
That was his first visit to Cheltenham in his career. Having had a couple of spins over hurdles to keep him fresh since the turn of the year, Potters Corner was amongst the leading contenders for the Cross Country test at The Festival but his participation was put to one side on Tuesday morning.
“Regrettably Potters Corner is slightly lame this morning following his last routine canter yesterday and therefore he WILL NOT run in tomorrow’s Glenfarclas Cross Country [at Cheltenham],” said Williams on his Twitter feed. “It’s incredibly disappointing news for the yard, staff and his owners.”
Aintree prep-run scuppered
The Cross Country race, a unique three-mile-six-furlong journey around the Gloucestershire course encompassing banks, hedge-rows, whiskey barrels and more as jumping tests, had been the planned Grand National prep for 11-year-old Potters Corner.
The Cross Country race has proved a successful stopping point for Tiger Roll en route to his famous Aintree double in the Grand National in 2018 and 2019.
Williams was quick to play down the seriousness of the setback for Potters Corner, but he simply wasn’t willing to take an undue risk in going to Cheltenham.
“He had a little over-reach a day or two ago. We were hoping it would be nothing but there was a slight inflammation yesterday and there’s a little bit more – we’re going to have to give him a routine course of antibiotics,” he added.
National plans unaffected
With Aintree just a little over three weeks away, the trainer was also keen to observe that missing Cheltenham shouldn’t have an impact on Potters Corner being spot on for the Merseyside marathon come April 10th.
“We couldn’t get away with it [Cheltenham], everything needs to be right and the horse has to come first. We’re all disappointed but I’d be surprised if it isn’t still all systems go for the Grand National,” he added.
The 2019 Welsh National scorer may not be able to follow ‘the Tiger Roll route’ to Aintree glory, but Potters Corner has already been emulating another former Grand National great.
Three-time Grand National winner was famously taken to the beach at Southport by his trainer Ginger McCain as part of the prep-work for his Merseyside successes in 1973, 1974 and 1977.
Ogmore-by-Sea, close to Williams’ home in Bridgend, Wales, has been used as an away-day venue for Potters Corner. The trainer opts to use ‘the largest sand dunes in Europe here to train on’ as well as allowing his string to get their feet wet in the sea.
Potters Corner has been allocated a mark of 149 for the Grand National at Aintree, and is set to carry a likeable 10st 6lb in the great race. His current rating leaves him just 4lb above the mark from which Jack Tudor partnered him to their Welsh National success at Chepstow in December 2019.
His November Cross Country run is one of just three runs since that success, his plans for Aintree last spring having been thwarted by Covid-19 and the abandonment of the Grand National.
Check the latest Potters Corner odds for the Grand National here.