National contender Captain Redbeard out to beat weather

NINETY horses have been left in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on April 14 following the latest forfeit stage.

Blaklion won the Becher Chase under Gavin Sheehan.
Blaklion won the Becher Chase under Gavin Sheehan.

Becher Chase winner Blaklion and Willie Mullins’s Ladbrokes Trophy hero Total Recall currently head the betting.

Among those available at a bigger price is Captain Redbeard who represents trainer Stuart Coltherd and his son Sam who hail from the Scottish Borders.

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The horse won Haydock’s Tommy Whittle Chase earlier in the season before finishing second in the Grade Two Peter Marsh Chase in January.

The now retired Ryan Hatch celebrates his RSA Chase win on Blaklion.

With Kelso’s card this Saturday falling victim to the weather, Coltherd and his teenage son, a conditional rider with Yorkshire trainers Sue and Harvey Smith, are looking for an alternative prep race.

“Captain Redbeard is in excellent form at home and has come out of his latest race at Haydock in great shape,” said Coltherd senior.

“That was a really good performance over the longest trip he’s tried, so we were delighted with that run, particularly off a career-high mark.

“Everything’s good and his work has been good at home. The plan was to run at Kelso on Saturday, but the weather is playing havoc with the racing schedule.

The now retired Ryan Hatch celebrates his RSA Chase win on Blaklion.

“I’m keen to get another outing into him before the Grand National. There are plenty of options for him and everybody else is in the same boat – you can’t account for the weather.

“If the worst came to the worst, we could go for a couple of racecourse gallops just to keep him sharp, but we’ll see.”

Bristol De Mai, Vyta Du Roc, Noble Endeavor, Abolitionist, Silsol, Three Faces West and Missed Approach were among the 14 horses taken out.

The weights are headed by Definitly Red from the Malton yard of Brian Ellison. However his participation will not become clearer until after this month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Yet, while Blaklion was an impressive winner of the Becher Chase at Aintree last December, he laboured on desperately sticky ground in Haydock’s Grand National Trial last month and trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies will be working overtime to get the horse back to its best.

A former winner of Wetherby’s Towton Novices Chase, and then the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Blaklion was ridden to victory in these races by young jockey Ryan Hatch who announced his retirement this week. The rider suffered serious spinal injuries when Cogry fell at Cheltenham in December 2016.