Walk In The Mill Targets Grand National After Becher Success
‘I can’t believe it, I just can’t believe it!’
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) December 7, 2019
Some horses never take to the Grand National fences, regardless of how good their form has been elsewhere. That cannot be said about Walk In The Mill, who seems to thrive over the bigger obstacles.
Robert Walford’s runner made history earlier this month by becoming the first horse ever to defend its crown in the Becher Chase.
He also became only the third horse ever to prevail more than once around the Grand National course in the 3m2f contest, with Into The Red (1994 and 1996) and Hello Bud (2010 and 2012) also managing that feat.
Walford’s chaser overcame early scare in Becher
There was a real scare at the first fence of the Becher as he was badly hampered. Regular pilot James Best did a good job of keeping his horse standing.
The nine-year-old then made smooth headway through the field as the race progressed, stretching three lengths clear of the field approaching the last, before staying on strongly at the Elbow to record a two-and-a-half-length success ahead of Kimberlite Candy.
His performance at Aintree was a big step up from his seasonal reappearance at Wetherby where he was pulled up in the Badger Bees Silver Trophy Handicap Chase, which is a Listed race over 3m1f.
His race came to a close just before the second fence from home. Although he was not quite as sharp on that occasion, he was clearly trained to come on from it.
Second shot at Grand National is on the cards
The target now will be the Grand National in April as he looks to continue his excellent record at Aintree. Walford’s chaser made his debut in the race earlier this year, finishing a respectable fourth place of the 40 runners in the contest won again by Tiger Roll.
Walk In The Mill was staying on gamely in the closing stages of the race back in April, therefore, connections are likely to be confident that their horse has the stamina to be just as effective over this marathon trip.
Walk In The Mill second favourite for Grand National glory
The bookmakers now make the Becher winner a 14/1* shot for the National as his odds were cut from 33/1* on the back of his win earlier this month. He behind the hat-trick chaser Tiger Roll who is the only horse with single digit odds at this stage at 7/1*.
Connections of Walk In The Mill will have to wait until February to learn what weight their horse has been allocated by the handicapper but it looks certain that he will need to carry more than the 10st 4lb he had on his back in last year’s race.
Reappearance likely to come early into the new year
Walford has hinted that his next run before the National could be over hurdles to ensure his handicap mark does not go any higher. If he needs to go up the weights to guarantee getting into the 40-runner field though, then another outing may come over fences at some point over the next couple of months.
Walford only has 25 horses in his Dorset-based yard and it would be a great story if the trainer was able to add his name onto the Grand National honours’ board which includes some of the greatest trainers in National Hunt history.
Walk In The Mill will surely go into the 2020 renewal of the world’s most famous steeplechase as one of the favourites and should have plenty of supporters as he looks to continue his impressive record over these fences.
*All odds subject to change.