Walk In The Mill runs well in hurdles appearance at Chepstow
Walk In The Mill back on the course at Chepstow over Hurdles today for the next step of his National preparations. 🤞🏻@jamesbe19813630 gets back in time to ride him in the National. James Bowen fills in today & I’m sure will do an excellent job. Love this boy! pic.twitter.com/tvxBt5hPTI
— Luca Viscogliosi (@TalksLuca) January 31, 2020
Randox Grand National contender Walk In The Mill made his latest appearance on the track on Friday in the Chepstow Trade Centre Novices’ Hurdle, finishing second of seven runners.
That contest in Wales was an opportunity for connections to get an outing into their horse without affecting his chase mark.
The 10-year-old hit the top of the third hurdle but otherwise his jumping was sound enough. He stayed on well in the closing stages but was just no match for Blackjack Kentucky from Paul Nicholls’ yard. The winner made all and looks a smart prospect over hurdles.
Connections now patiently wait for Grand National weights
Walk In The Mill was confirmed as one of the 108 entries who has been entered at the first declaration stage for the Grand National in April.
The official handicapper will announce the weights for the race on Tuesday, 11th February at St George’s Hall, Liverpool. Martin Greenwood from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will reveal each runner’s assigned weight, including Tiger Roll who is bidding for his third straight success in the steeplechase.
Robert Walford opted to run Walk In The Mill in a hurdles contest at Exeter last March in his final outing before the Grand National, but he has not revealed if we will see him again this season before April. He doesn’t have any entries in the races at the Cheltenham Festival so he should appear at Aintree relatively fresh.
Walk In The Mill 14/1* for Grand National win
Walk In The Mill is as short as 14/1* with some bookmakers for the 173rd running of the Grand National. There are just two horses ahead of him in that ante-post market – Tiger Roll who is the 7/1* favourite and Burrows Saint who can be backed at 12/1*.
This will be Walk In The Mill’s second shot at the 4m2½f contest. He went off at 25/1 in 2019 where he finished fourth in the 40-runner field, 16L away from the defending champion. He was rated at 144 going into that race but is now off a mark of 150, a sign of his progress since then.
Becher wins prove his liking for the bigger obstacles
Walford’s chaser was successful in the Becher Handicap Chase around the Grand National Course for the second straight year back in December.
He became only the third horse ever to prevail more than once in the race along with Into The Red (1994 and 1996) and Hello Bud (2010 and 2012). He is the only runner in history though, to do it in back-to-back years.
Despite a big scare at the first obstacle of the Becher, he finished his race strongly, with Walford commenting afterwards that his horse may even be better over a longer distance.
Walk In The Mill’s season began in the Badger Bees Silver Trophy Handicap Chase, back in November, where he was pulled up in the Listed race run over 3m1f. He looked much fitter on his return to Aintree but there is no doubt the racecourse in Merseyside brings out the best in him.
First 10-year-old winner since Ballabriggs?
If successful in April, Walk In The Mill will be the first 10-year-old to win the Grand National since Ballabriggs in 2011.
Pineau De Re was the last horse older than nine to prevail as he was 11 when he won it in 2014.
Walford’s stable star now has 24 appearances over fences, with nine wins from those races. Given what he has already achieved over these fences, if he can add the Grand National to his list of success stories, he will go down as one of the greatest to appear around this course.
*Odds subject to change.