Yala Enki may lead Nicholls challenge
Brilliantly to see Yala Enki win in great fashion here at Taunton under a really positive ride from Bryony. Huge well done to the team and Mr and Mrs Hitchens. pic.twitter.com/t3FEYiOg1j
— Charlie Davies (@charliedavies31) January 18, 2020
Britain’s champion trainer Paul Nicholls still holds entries in the Randox Health Grand National with six horses and it appears as though Yala Enki may lead the charge for Ditcheat supremo.
Nicholls famously landed the great race in 2012 with Neptune Collonges in a thrilling finish, which remains his sole success in the contest to date.
Yala Enki finding his feet
After arriving in Britain from France, Yala Enki spent three seasons in the care of trainer Venetia Williams. He won seven races during his stint with Williams, four of them over fences.
The standout effort came in February 2018 when he scored in the Haydock’s Grand National Trial over three miles, four and a half furlongs.
Later in the same year he would finish third behind Elegant Escape in the Welsh National at Chepstow though last season didn’t go entirely to plan.
The defence of his National Trial on Merseyside was disappointing and likely rubber-stamped the notion that Yala Enki will require ‘soft’ in the going description if he’s to shine going forward.
His time with Williams was brought to an end with a creditable seventh of 16 in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last spring.
Off to join Team Ditcheat
A wind operation was completed over the summer recess as Yala Enki made the move to Nicholls’ base in Somerset.
He made a low-key return to action in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury before again making the frame (third) in the Welsh National over Christmas, this time less than three lengths down on Potters Corner.
Last month, he was a decisive winner of the Portman Cup at Taunton on heavy ground, once more underpinning his desire for a real stamina test with some give under foot.
He is now trading at around the 33/1* mark with many firms for the Randox Health Grand National on April 4th.
Kelso warm-up planned
Nicholls is planning to head for Scotland to complete Yala Enki’s prep for a maiden tilt at the National. He has previously won over fences at Kelso and the champion trainer is pin-pointing a return.
“He won’t go to the Eider Chase and if I decide to run him before the Grand National it will be something like the race at Kelso at the end of the month,” he said.
“He was brilliant at Taunton. It was quick enough after the hard race in the Welsh National. I want to go to Aintree with him if the owner is happy and we have to plan back from that.
“I think he could be a great horse to go to Aintree with.”
National Trial for Truckers Lodge
Nicholls has also entered Warriors Tale, Romain de Senam, Saint Xavier and Give Me A Copper in the field for the Grand National, with the weights announcement looming in Liverpool on Tuesday afternoon.
Eight-year-old Truckers Lodge, one place better than Yala Enki in the Welsh National in December, hasn’t got an entry for Aintree this time around.
Haydock’s Grand National Trial is on the agenda, however, for a horse with plenty of time on his side.
“He will probably go to the Grand National Trial at Haydock as he will love the ground up there,” added Nicholls.
“It was a tough race at Chepstow, but he has had a nice little break and will be fine. He has got over that well and has been working great and looks in good shape.”
*Odds subject to change.