NIGEL Twiston-Davies hopes patience will be rewarded for Blaklion when he runs in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree today.
The nine-year-old looked the winner 12 months ago when Noel Fehily’s partner gained the lead at the 26th fence, but his challenge petered out late on and he ended up finishing fourth.
He will this year be ridden by the trainer’s son, Sam, and connections are keen for the jockey to delay his challenge a little longer than in 2017.
Twiston-Davies snr, who has won the race twice, said: “He’ll be ridden with a little bit more restraint. He was only beaten by eight lengths last year.
“I know he has gone up 8lb, but with a bit more restraint hopefully he’ll be there.”
Blaklion hardened as ante-post favourite for the Grand National after he won the Becher Chase at Aintree in December.
And though he was comprehensively defeated in a Grand National trial at Haydock in February, he has since undergone wind surgery.
A strong Irish challenge is spearheaded by Total Recall, trained by Willie Mullins and winner of Newbury’s Ladbrokes Trophy, and Tony Martin’s Anibale Fly who was third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Meanwhile, Berwickshire trainer Sandy Thomson believes Seeyouatmidnight, the mount of North Yorkshire jockey Brian Hughes, can provide Scotland with a second successive win after One For Arthur’s triumph 12 months ago.
Though the horse has had several training setbacks, and has been acquired by new owners this week, Thomson said: “I’m feeling remarkably laid-back at the moment. Conditions shouldn’t affect him – they’ll certainly affect other horses more – but it’s the Grand National and anything can happen.”