No Grand National entry for Vintage Clouds after Becher Chase blow, says Sue Smith

Danny Cook with Vintage Clouds who will not now line up in next year's Randox Health Grand National.
Danny Cook with Vintage Clouds who will not now line up in next year's Randox Health Grand National.
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SUE SMITH has confirmed that Vintage Clouds will not be handed an entry for next year’s Randox Health Grand National at Aintree.

A first-fence casualty in this year’s renewal, the High Eldwick trainer had hoped for a confidence-boosting run in last weekend’s Becher Chase at the iconic Merseyside track.

Vintage Clouds - pictured winning at Haydock last year - will now stick to regulation fences, says trainer Sue Smith.

Vintage Clouds - pictured winning at Haydock last year - will now stick to regulation fences, says trainer Sue Smith.

But Danny Cook’s mount failed to take to the unique fences and was already last place when ploughing through The Chair fence, the biggest obstacle on the course, after taking off prematurely.

The grey, owned by three-time National winner Trevor Hemmings, was pulled up shortly afterwards in a race ultimately won by Walk In The Mill for Yorkshire-born trainer Robert Walford and unsung jockey James Best.

“He won’t go in the National. Trevor has said ‘don’t put him in’,” said Smith who trained 2013 Grand National hero Auroras Encore. “It didn’t work out for him, he doesn’t have a cut at the fences and he doesn’t enjoy it. Some horses, it doesn’t suit. We’re going to stick with regular fences.”

Smith is unsure whether Vintage Clouds, runner-up at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, will line up in the Welsh National at Chepstow on December 27.

However, she is looking forward to stable stalwart Wakanda reappearing over hurdles at Bangor on Friday – or at Carlisle two days later.

Meanwhile, officials at Doncaster are hopeful that racing can finally resume on Town Moor later this week after the last four meetings at the track all fell victim to waterlogging following unprecedented rain that flooded over 1,000 homes in the town.

Friday’s fixture will be followed by a higher-profile meeting 24 hours later which is likely to see Yorkshire-trained novice chasers Sam Spinner and Windsor Avenue put their respective unbeaten records on the line.

Clerk of the course Roderick Duncan said the going on the chase course is currently good to soft, soft in places, and has improved markedly after a dry spell.

He says eight inches of rain has been recorded at the track in the past six weeks.

“We’ve had a week of really dry weather which has really helped us,” he added. “The current forecast is a certain amount of rainfall, but we don’t perceive it to be a threat.”

Malton trainer Brian Ellison, meanwhile, has confirmed that Windsor Avenue is an intended runner for his clash with Jedd O’Keeffe’s Sam Spinner.

“Brian Hughes came in and schooled Windsor Avenue this morning and he was electric, so we’re looking forward to running him,” enthused Ellison.