Wetherby success can lead to National glory

Nick Alexander gave up a successful career as a stockbroker ten years ago to become a racehorse trainer.

lake View Lad and Henry Brooke (left), pictured winning Newcastle's Rehearsal Chase.

Now he harbours hopes of saddling a first Grand National runner with the progressive Lake View Lad.

First comes today’s Rowland Meyrick Chase for the chaser who came to prominence when winning Newcastle’s Rehearsal Chase at the start of the month.

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Based between Edinburgh and Perth, the horsebox will leave Scotland at 5am for West Yorkshire and an eagerly-anticipated race.

Alexander hopes recent rain will play to the strengths of Lake View Lad, who was purchased in the summer by Trevor Hemmings, who is in the unique position of having won the National with three different horses.

“I’m looking forward to it,” the trainer told The Yorkshire Post. “The horse is ready to run again and it is an ideal race. We could have waited for the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in January, but we could be under snow by then.

“We were delighted with him at Newcastle – it was his first run for some time – and I think he could improve again. Soft ground, heavy in places, would be ideal. He is a very good jumper. We won’t know if he stays four-and-a-quarter miles for the National until he tries it, I don’t suppose.”

Alexander is the first to admit that training racehorses “is much more difficult” than working in finance.

But his passion has enabled him to be involved with the careers of his daughter Lucy, the first and only female jump jockey to become champion conditional, and son Kit, who is an accomplished amateur rider.

Nothing gives him greater pleasure than watching his children ride his string of racehorses, which now numbers 40. He was a picture of concentration as he observed his daughter’s race-riding at Haydock on Saturday through binoculars.

But injury meant connections opted to go with Henry Brooke at Newcastle and the Middleham horseman keeps the ride as he attempts to win the prestigious chase for a third successive year after wins on Definitly Red and Get On The Jager 12 months ago.

“Hopefully Henry can make it three in a row,” added Alexander, who notes that Dan Skelton’s Captain Chaos is now more favourably weighted after chasing home Lake View Lad at Newcastle.

He also respects Sue Smith’s Wakanda and she, in turn, is hopeful that her horse can put up another bold run under regular rider Danny Cook.

Runner-up in each of the last two years, Wakanda made a pleasing comeback over hurdles at Wetherby on December 8.

“Our old boy seems to be in good form,” she said. “We’re going there hopeful rather than confident. The Alexander horse is a nice up-and-coming runner – it should be a good race.”

She also confirmed that Vintage Clouds, who was originally entered in the Rowland Meyrick, will line up in tomorrow’s Welsh Grand National at Chepstow and believes the grey, again owned by Hemmings, can improve on last season’s fourth place finish in the marathon race.